Sailors' Society

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Sailors’ Society is an inter-denominational Christian organisation providing pastoral care to seafarers.

Christmas festivities at Waterford's Sailors' Rest, 1931. Waterford, Ireland

The Society was formed on 18 March 1818, as the Port of London Society. Following mergers with two other societies, the name was changed to The British & Foreign Sailors’ Society. In 1925 it was changed to The British Sailors’ Society. In 1995 the name was changed to The British & International Sailors’ Society. The most recent name change took place on 1 December 2007 when the present name was adopted.

The Society is an interdenominational charity and has close links with many of the mainstream Protestant Churches in the United Kingdom, such as the Baptist Union, Church of Scotland, United Reformed Church, and the Methodist Church. The headquarters are at 350 Shirley Road, Southampton, England.

The Society is international and in addition to its presence in the UK it operates in Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Curaçao, Ghana, Réunion, Russia, India, Indonesia, Madagascar, the Philippines and the Ukraine.


The Mission in Limehouse, where Situationist International held its conference in 1960

The Society has port chaplains and seafarers' welfare centres at various ports around the world. It also has one retirement home - in Greenock, Scotland. Within the UK the Society has a presence at Aberdeen, Arbroath, Dundee, Felixstowe, Grangemouth, Leith (port of Edinburgh), Manchester Ship Canal, Milford Haven, Montrose, Portland, Dorset, Port Talbot and South Wales Ports, Portbury (near Bristol), Seaham (County Durham), Southampton and the Wirral (Mersey).

In New Zealand, an independent Society, the International Sailors Society New Zealand Incorporated, co-ordinates the activities of six independent seafarers' welfare organisations (all registered charities) in the ports of Auckland, Bluff, Dunedin (Otago), New Plymouth (Taranaki), Bay of Plenty (Mt Maunganui) and (since 2011) Wellington. Another in Lyttelton recently (2009) went into recess. The Sailors Society in New Zealand is linked to the Sailors Society (UK) but is self-governing and self-supporting.

Independent bodies, similarly linked to the UK, also exist in South Africa and Canada.

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