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Identity Statement

Reference code(s): N/M/042-10
Held at: London Metropolitan Archives
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Date(s): 1906-1958
Level of description: Collection
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Extent: 0.15 linear metres
Name of creator(s): Methodist Church of Great Britain x United Methodist Church x Wesleyan Methodist Church x Primitive Methodist Church


Administrative/Biographical history:

The Queen Victoria Seamen's Rest (QVSR) started life as the Wesleyan Seamen's Mission of the Methodist Church in 1843. The aim was to minister to the spiritual needs and promote the social and morale welfare of seafarers and their families in the vicinity of the Port of London.

Over time a need arose for a meeting place of some kind in the new sailor town that had sprung up at Poplar. Right opposite the 'seamen's entrance' of the local Board of Trade Office on the East India Dock Road in Jeremiah Street stood a small public house called The Magnet. In 1887, the license of The Magnet was withdrawn, providing the Mission an opportunity to rent the public house and it was transformed into a Seamen's Rest.

Gradually the sphere of the Mission 's operation extended from London Bridge to Tilbury and embraced the river, docks and wharfs, as well as the on-shore haunts of sailors and hospitals, so that by the end of the century it was evident that the old 'Magnet' premises were inadequate. The freehold of No 1 Jeremiah Street and its adjoining properties was purchased in 1899; the whole site was cleared and a new Seamen's Home and Institute built. The foundation stone was laid on the 17th December 1901 by the Lord Mayor of London, and King Edward VII gave his royal consent for the new Seamen's Rest to bear his mother's name, "Queen Victoria ".

The Seamen's Hospital Society 'Dreadnought' rented a portion of the building to use as a sailor's dispensary clinic providing free medical treatment on the premises. In addition free banking was available and a lawyer held an advice surgery once a week. The Association with Seamen's Homes Beyond the Seas had been inaugurated and men from the Mission were introduced to similar institutions in foreign ports. As the work of the mission prospered a resolution was made to extend the building by another storey to increase the number of beds from 25 to 60.

In order to function effectively, QVSR needed a separate hall for public worship and meetings. The Emery Hall was opened on December 5th 1907 by the Patron, HRH Princess Louise. In the First World War, 20,000 unarmed Merchant Seamen lost their lives and the Mission began an appeal to raise funds for a War Memorial Wing with room for another 100 beds. On 20th October 1932 , Prince George (later Duke of Kent) performed the opening ceremony. The extension comprised three stories of private cubicles, 66 in all, a lounge and the New Agar Hall. Each cubicle was plainly furnished with an iron bedstead, dressing table, wooden chair, rug and electric light.

On June 21st 1944 a V1 Flying-bomb fell in Jeremiah Street and the whole of the staff quarters were destroyed. Mercifully, there was no loss of life. Disaster struck again on August 3rd when another bomb displaced the temporary repairs and added further damage, but restoration was done by the seamen lodgers and it was a source of pride that the Rest never closed.

With the war over, plans for the centenary extension of another 60 bedrooms and other sundry communal rooms resumed. The new development was in two parts, one each end of the building. The North Block included an officers' lounge and billiard room together with a chapel, library and 35 bedrooms for officers. The South Block provided not only a common room and rest rooms, two cafes and new bedrooms for ratings, but also a spacious entrance hall with an imposing entrance onto the main road. This necessitated a change of postal address from Jeremiah Street to 121-131 East India Dock Road.

Over the next thirty years, the "Queen Vic" had to adjust itself in line with the re-development of the East End Dockland area and the modernisation of the shipping industry. In order to maintain financial efficiency, space was made to allow a number of retired seamen a more permanent home at QVSR whilst also providing a home for men who had nowhere else to turn. In recent times there has been an increased use of the London River, from Barking Creek to Silvertown, which has re-kindled the need to provide a service that supports the welfare of active seafarers using the Port of London .



Scope and content/abstract:

Minute book of the local preachers' meetings of the Seamen's Mission Circuit, 1908-1933; Circuit schedules of the Seamen's Mission Circuit, 1906- 1956; Circuit schedule books for the Seamen's Mission Circuit, including visitation of classes, 1936-1958.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

System of arrangement:

N/M/042/1: First West London and Second London Circuits; N/M/042/2: Islington Circuit; N/M/042/3: Camden Town; N/M/042/4-11: Spitalfields Chapel; N/M/042/12-14: Caledonian Road Chapel; N/M/042/15-22: Saint George's East Chapel, Cable Street, Poplar; N/M/042/23-25: Deptford Circuit; N/M/042/26: Walworth; N/M/042/27: Forest Hill Chapel; N/M/042/28-29: Grove Wesleyan Mission; N/M/042/30-68: Brunswick Methodist Church, Limehouse; N/M/042/69-74: Seamen's Mission Circuit; N/M/042/75-140: Barking Road Methodist Society.

Conditions governing access:

Available for general access

Conditions governing reproduction:

Copyright: Depositor

Finding aids:

Please see online catalogues at:

Archival Information

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

Deposited in 1977 (AC/77/067).

Allied Materials

Related material:

See also LMA/4249.

Publication note:

Description Notes

Archivist's note:

Rules or conventions:
Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions:
January to March 2009

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