British seamen's missions and sailors' homes 1815 to 1970 : voluntary welfare provision for serving seafarers
From the 1820s an ever present feature of most British ports has been the voluntary societies, little- studied before, offering spiritual and social welfare support to serving seafarers. The perspective taken in this study is that although there were numerous individual societies voluntary effort for seafarers constitutes a single movement. The continued existence of many societies well into the twentieth century suggests that the movement should be examined longitudinally in order to assess its contribution in relation to the changing context in which such welfare operated. To establish the internal operations of seamen's missions and. sailors' homes. the records of a selprtirnn nflarge and small societies quantifiable data as well as Particular attention has been target population - seafarers using contemporary sources; using public records, and to changing religious context has that of of social policy, a welfare state. have been examined for other forms of evidence. paid to the nature of the - and the situation in port, to involvement of the State the industrial context. The been examined closely, as has s it progressed towards the The study reveals the considerable voluntary effort which contributed to the movement, confirming the wide coverage of British ports which was achieved and the extent to which it was able to match the growing numbers of seafarers. The product of evangelical interest in the well-being of others, there was particular concern for rescuing the seafarer from the evils of port districts, especially crimping. Though to many seafarers. marginal in religious terms, seafarers' charities were more significant in social terms as the sole providers of social support throughout much of the period of this study. Although some local societies survived to the 1970s, by the 1890s the movement had changed from a mass of local societies to domination by the branch networks of a few national societies. Apart from control of seafaring employment, State intervention was not significant in seafaring welfare except in the 1940s, while the role of the shipping industry was small. The decline of the movement in Britain was linked with the effects of inflation, changing patterns of seafaring and the decline of the British shipping industry. In the broader religious and social welfare contexts, seamen's missions and homes were typical products of the nineteenth century and in their evolution to 1970 paralleled closely developments in religion and social welfare in Britain.