Wartime of course brought its own pressures. At least eight Greenock Wireless Officers lost their lives in the Merchant Navy. We can’t say that they definitely trained at the Watt College but the chances are high that they did indeed do so - William Brown Cameron; Robert Johnson Gerrard; John McNicol Goldie; George McIntyre Jeffrey; Ian McDougall McEwing; Malcolm McMillan; Alexander Stewart and Henry Wallace. Add to these the local Navy and Merchant Navy Officers who lost their lives and we can see that the Watt College played a crucial part in the war effort, supplying the training for a large proportion of the maritime services. There are stories of men from all over Britain who joined ships at Greenock who were also studying for their masters tickets.
The main impetus to the growth of the school was the concept of day release for apprentices. In 1944 the Royal Navy Dockyards decided to give their apprentices one half-day release from work, to help in their studies at the local colleges. This soon became a full day off and since the apprentices at the Royal Naval Torpedo Factory in Greenock enjoyed the same contract as the Dockyard apprentices, they too enjoyed this tremendous help in the continuation of their studies. Over the next fifteen years the idea grew and the local shipyards, engineering establishments and commercial firms all began to give their apprentices a day release to study the academic side of their trade or profession. By 1956 only 135 Day Release students per week were in attendance, while by 1965/66 there were 800 Day Release students and 100 full-time Pre-Vocational students. These figures revealed the rate of growth of the College in post war Greenock. Pressure was also brought by the Industrial Training Boards to provide integrated courses, which again provided an impetus to growth in the James Watt College.
In addition to providing full-time courses for boys who made their career at sea - radio, radar, navigation among the courses offered - and for pre-vocational students in Engineering and Commerce, the College now offered no less than 15 different City and Guilds of London Institute courses for day-release students. Those included Welding, Steel Fabrication, Fitting, Machinery, Carpentry and Joinery, Electrical Installation, Automobile Engineering, and Retail Distribution. The prospectus also showed courses leading to the Ordinary National Certificate in Mechanical or Electrical Engineering, and to the Higher National in Naval Architecture. Candidates were presented by the College for Scottish Certificate of Education examinations in the ‘O’ Grade.
In 1961 City and Guilds of London Institute day release classes commenced with Shipbuilding and Electrical Installation Etc., and additional space was required for these classes. Various annexes were added and supplementary accommodation was brought into use in various stages - very poor rutted accommodation on the site of the former Cartsburn School; an annexe of good temporary accommodation was built on the Boom Defence Site in 1964; five rooms of tenement offices were also occupied in Hamilton Street; another annexe was provided in the Holmscroft School but this was destroyed by fire in March 1966.
This annexe was replaced by building additional hutted accommodation on the Boom Defence Site, but the rooms in Hamilton Street proved a serious fire risk and were closed down in 1970. In 1968 several classrooms were acquired in Glenpark School and Commercial classes were continued at that annex.