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We've been going for 200 years

This year we’ve been supporting seafarers and their families for 200 years, now that’s something to celebrate. Explore our 200 year voyage below.

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200 years later we’re a fully global operation.

We now work in 29 countries and 91 ports.

Explore some of our projects and success stories after we dock.


The charity was founded; its first President was Admiral Lord Gambier, who signed the historical Treaty of Ghent in 1814, establishing peace between the great American States and Great Britain.

In May 1818, the organisation moored former sloop of war Speedy on the Thames. It was the first floating chapel for seafarers.

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The Society’s first missionary to sailors was ordained. Reverend W. H. Angas visited many home ports, crossed the continent, and hoisted the charity’s not well-known flag in Belgian, German and Baltic ports.

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Queen Victoria sent the Society £50 towards a relief fund for families of men lost at sea, the charity’s Chart and Compass magazine records, “the Queen’s sympathy is with the shipwrecked.”

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The charity was given copper and wood from Nelson’s flagship HMS Victory to fundraise with. At the centenary event the charity held to commemorate Nelson’s death, busts, plaques and coins made from the Victory materials were presented to notable people from the era.

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The Prince of Wales - later King Edward VIII – paid a surprise visit to the Society’s Prince of Wales Sea Training Hostel. He was presented with a Nelson bust, which he “carried away with him to his car.”

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The BBC allots its week’s good cause slot to the British Sailors’ Society and Commander Antony Kimmins appeals for funds in the 8.40pm broadcast.

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The Beatles were far from home in Hamburg when they came across the Society at the seafarers' centre and recognised it as the same charity that helped seafarers in their native Liverpool. According to legend, the band even composed some songs on the centre's piano.

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On 6 March 1987 the Herald of Free Enterprise capsized, 193 people were lost in the tragedy. Sailors’ Society chaplains supported families affected by the disaster and the charity holds service of remembrance in Dover annually.

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Typhoon Haiyan destroyed vast areas of the Philippines. Sailors’ Society has helped rebuild lives in the country ever since. The charity has also developed Wellness at Sea, crisis response networks, and innovative apps to improve seafarer wellness globally.

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Now we’re 200 years old! Let’s dock this ship and see how far we’ve come.

End journey

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