London's port was a place where many nationalities and races met. Thousands of seamen from every continent made regular journeys to London with their ships. They often acquired an intimate knowledge of the docks, wharves and nearby streets without ever settling in London.
|St Olav's, the Norwegian Seamen's Church. © NMM|
Some nationalities formed large transient communities, with churches and institutions catering for those who were passing through.
|The former Scandinavian Seamen's Hostel near the West India Docks. © NMM|
The best known of these were the Scandinavians - seamen from Norway, Finland, Denmark and Sweden. Many ships from these countries came to London, particularly to the Surrey Commercial Docks, where names such as Norway Dock and Finland Yard reflect the trade carried on there. Rotherhithe had several Lutheran churches at which no services were conducted in English.
Although the inner London docks are gone and Scandinavian seamen no longer walk the streets of Rotherhithe, the churches survive and still cater for their respective communities.
|The Norwegian Constitution Day Parade in Southwark Park. © NMM|