The King Edward VII Nautical School was founded in 1902 by the British Sailors' Society. The Directors of the Society acted as the first governing body of the School, which was based over a seamen's hostel at 680 Commercial Road, Stepney, London. In 1926 the school became a recognised school of technical instruction aided by the London County Council (LCC).
In 1949 the LCC implemented a further education development plan for nautical education. Under this scheme, senior courses would be established at Sir John Cass College, while junior courses would be run at the King Edward VII School (and later at a new college at Greenhithe). Further rationalisation occurred in the 1960s when the Department of Navigation of Sir John Cass College merged with the King Edward VII Nautical College in 1969 and moved to a new building at Tower Hill, London.