This section highlights the ways that religion, race and class moderated the experiences of sailors afloat and on shore through agents such as missions to seamen, sailors’ homes and maritime enterprises.
James Holland, The Mission Cutter Eirene, Bristol Channel, 1843.
How did mariners engage with port life in the long nineteenth century? Their employment and social life was often mediated and controlled by a range of organisations and institutions. This section has links to more information on the maritime missions that engaged and interacted with mariners, as well as the sailors' homes that offered accommodation or support to itinerant mariners from around the world who came to British ports. It includes short stories on the shipping companies that shaped their lives as well.
Sumita Mukherjee, 'What' Mariners: Race, Religion and Empire in British Ports 1801-1914, https://mar.ine.rs/what/
Retrieved 22 February 2024
Although charities and almshouses for distressed sailors have existed since the middle ages in British ports, marine missions expanded rapidly in the 19th century in line with the growth of Britain's marine workforce. Dissenters led the way but all churches developed missions that provided moral and temporal support for sailors ashore and afloat.
Sailors' homes were one solution to the problem of destitution and exploitative or non-existent accommodation in ports. Besides bed and board, they provided facilites such as postage, banking, libraries, employment and religious services, as well as emergency shelter for shipwrecked mariners.
Shipping companies were crucial to the lives of mariners. They controlled wages and condition, contributed to the scanty services available through marine charities, and shaped the character of port cities.