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Sailors' Homes Return 1860

A guide to all the sailors' homes in England, Ireland, Wales and Scotland based on a parliamentary return in 1860.

On 17 August 1860, the House of Commons ordered to be printed a Return of all the Sailors Homes in the course of erection in the United Kingdom (HC 1860).  About a year later, there was another return, this time to ascertain what the impact of the £1,600 allocated to the support of sailors’ homes had been (HC 1861).

 

A sepia photograph of a middle aged man with high forehead and impressive beard.

Photograph of Sir Henry Stracey, 1868. Parliamentary Archives, PHO/8/1/41/4.

Both returns were the result of requests by Sir Henry Josias Stracey (1802-1885), the Conservative MP for Great Yarmouth from 1859-1865. As the representative of a large maritime community, Stracey brought forward a Resolution in favour of Sailors' Homes, which was debated on Tuesday 9 April 1861 (Hansard 1861: 325). Stracey summarized the benefits of sailors’ homes to the House, observing that 'the founders of these sailors’ homes had every reason to be proud of the success which had attended their experiment'. They varied in their management, though they all served as ‘asylums for seamen', with services which might include refuges for shipwrecked mariners, infirmaries, schools for navigation, shipping offices, and savings banks.

There were a total of 31 homes for which a return had been received, and five or six had been allocated some of the grant of £1,600 annually made by the House. In the debate which followed, Stracey pressed for further support based on the traditional depiction of the sailor as a victim of the crimp and the prostitute: 'Although the sailor was gallant and enduring at sea he was soft and yielding on land, and the great object of homes was to save him from temptation ashore.' (Hansard 1861: 326)

Return of Sailors Homes (BPP 1861)

While Admiral Walcott supported the move to continue support for homes, noting that the Admiralty supported those at Portsmouth and Devonport, but all others were maintained by voluntary contributions. Opposing the motion, Milner Gibson stated that 'sailors are as capable of taking care of their own interest as any other class of labourers', indeed more so since they were well paid. It was not appropriate therefore to turn them into objects of charity.

The motion failed, but support for sailors' homes continued. Stracey's initiative in securing the return on these institutions provides us with a snapshot of the distribution of sailors' homes across the ports of the United Kingdom at the height of the Victorian age.

So where were the 31 sailors' homes in the UK in the 1860? Many and possibly all of the homes on the Return of 1860 have been demolished or put to new uses. I have tried to identify their locations at the time of the Return. The map above shows approximate locations where it was not possible to find an exact location.

 

Return of all Sailors' Homes Erected, or in course of Erection, in the United Kingdom (so far as the Board of Trade have been able to find information)

PORT

TITLE OF HOME or Institute

CLASS OF HOME

HOW SUPPORTED

Sailors' Home

Sailors' Institute

Shipping Office

Sailors' Home for all Nations, and Refuge for Shipwrecked Mariners

Royal or Parliamentary Grant

Private exertions

1. Belfast

Belfast Sailors' Home

1

-

-

1

-

1

2. Bristol

Sailors' Home

No information

3. Cardiff

Cardiff Sailors' Home

1

-

-

1

-

1

4. Cork

Royal Cork Sailors' Home

1

-

-

1

1

1

5. Devonport

Devonport Royal Sailors' Home

1

1

-

1

1

1

6. Dover

Dover Sailors' Home

1

1

-

1

-

1

7. Dublin

Dublin Sailors' Home

1

1

-

1

-

1

8. Falmouth

The Royal Cornwall Sailors' Home, and

Infirmary for Seamen of all Nations.

1

1

-

1

-

1

9. Glasgow

Sailors' Home

1

-

-

-

-

1

10. Gloucester

Gloucester Sailors' Home

1

-

-

-

-

1

11. Great Yarmouth

Benchmen's and Fishermen's Institute,

and British and Foreign Sailors' Home

1

1

(Coastwise)

1

-

1

12. Greenock

Greenock Sailors' Home

1

1

-

1

-

1

13. Hull

Hall Sailors' Home

1

-

-

-

-

1

14. Hull

Sailors' Institute

1

-

-

-

-

1

15. Leith

Leith Sailors' Home

1

-

-

-

-

1

16. Limerick

Limerick Sailors' Home

1

1

-

-

-

1

17. Liverpool

Liverpool Sailors' Home

1

-

-

(Except Lascars and the like)

-

1

18. London

Sailors' Home, Well-street, London Docks

1

1

1

-

-

1

19. London

Destitute Sailors' Asylum,  Well-street,

London Docks.

-

-

-

1

-

1

20. London

Sailors' Home, Poplar

1

-

-

-

-

1

21. London

Strangers' Home for Asiatics, Africans,

and South Sea Islanders, West India

Dock Road, Limehouse.

(For Asiatics, and South Sea Islanders)

-

-

-

Small sums have been received in 1857, 1858, and 1859 from the Board of Trade, as Fees for shipping Lascars

1

22. London

British and Foreign Sailors' Society and

Institute, Mercer's-street, Shadwell

-

1

-

-

Toward the Navigation School attached to the Institute

1

23. Milford

Sailors' Home

1

-

-

-

-

1

24. North Shields

Tyne Sailors' Home

1

-

-

1

-

1

25. Plymouth

Sailors' Home

No information

26. Portsmouth

Portsmouth Royal Sailors' Home

1

1

-

1

1

1

27. Queenstown

Royal Queenstown Sailors' Home

1

-

-

1

1

1

28. Ramsgate

Ramsgate Seamens' Infirmary

-

-

-

-

-

1

29. Southampton

Efforts are being made to provide a Sailors' Home at this port

 

 

 

 

 

 

30. Stornoway

Stornoway Sailors' Home

1

-

-

-

-

1

31. Sunderland

Sunderland Sailors' Home

1

-

-

-

-

1

 

References

Hansard 1861. HC Deb 09 April 1861 vol 162 cc325-38. Link

HC 1860. HC Return of Sailors’ Homes in United Kingdom. BPP 1860 (252) XXXVIII.485. Permalink

HC 1861. HC Return of Expenditure of Parliamentary Grant for Encouragement of Sailors’ Homes and Charitable Institutes in Neighbourhood of Dockyards. BPP 1861 (562). Permalink

Citation for this article

Hilary Carey, 'Sailors' Homes Return 1860' Mariners: Race, Religion and Empire in British Ports 1801-1914, https://mar.ine.rs/stories/sailors-homes-return-1860/
Retrieved 22 February 2024