The Missions to Seamen
While the Free Churches were setting up their own organizations to minister to seamen, the Church of England used the churches and other facilities provided by the Destitute Sailors' Asylum and the Sailors' Home.
|The Missions to Seamen house flag. © NMM|
Its first totally separate institution was the Missions to Seamen organization, founded in 1856. Its task was to coordinate the work of various Anglican ministries on behalf of seamen.
The organization's most obvious presence in London was its Institute on the East India Dock Road, opened in 1893. It contained a church, gymnasium, coffee bar and classrooms. Although the Institute was closed in 1932, when Missions to Seamen moved to new headquarters in the Royal Docks, the building has survived.
|The Missions to Seamen Institute, 154 East India Dock Road. © NMM|
The organization was renamed the Mission to Seafarers and remains active in 100 ports worldwide, including Tilbury. To find out more, go to the Mission's website:
The Shipwrecked Fishermen and Mariners' Royal Benevolent Society
Unlike the organizations mentioned so far, the SFMS did not specifically help seamen visiting the port. However, it has been one of the most important charitable bodies dealing with seamen. The Society was founded in 1839 following the tragic death of dozens of fishermen off the north Devon coast the previous year.
|The house flag of the Shipwrecked Fishermen and Mariners' Royal Benevolent Society. © NMM|
The Society added the 'Royal' to its title when Queen Victoria agreed to become its patron. Unlike church-sponsored organizations, it has always relied on private subscriptions and donations.
|A membership token of The Shipwrecked Fishermen and Mariners' Royal Benevolent Society. © NMM|
The Society flourishes to this day, and occasionally assists shipwreck victims, but its main work now is the granting of awards to retired seafarers and seamen's widows in cases of need.
|A collection tin for the Shipwrecked Fishermen and Mariners' Royal Benevolent Society. © NMM|
To find out more, go to the Society's website: