Fishermen's Mission

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Fishermen's Mission
Founded 1881
Founder Ebenezer Joseph Mather[1]
Type Charitable organisation
Registration no. England and Wales: 232822 Scotland: SC039088
  • Mather House, 4400 Parkway, Solent Business Park, Whiteley, Hampshire, PO15 7FJ
Area served
United Kingdom

Fishermen's Mission - the full name of which is The Royal National Mission to Deep Sea Fishermen - is a British charitable organisation founded and run on Christian principles. The mission also welcomes the participation and support of persons of other faiths or none.


Fishermen's Mission was founded as "the National Mission to Deep Sea Fishermen" by Ebenezer Joseph Mather in 1881. Mather was disturbed by the poor conditions in which fishermen worked and lived and knew something needed to be done to help alleviate their troubles. In the 19th century fishing was notoriously dangerous with high fatality rates and the occupation remains today as one of the most dangerous.[2] In 1896 the mission was given the royal approval by Queen Victoria[3] adding "Royal" to the missions name. The mission helped many during World War I and World War II as scores of fisherman's trawlers were used to help merchant convoys and defence against attacks from the air and for mine sweeping.

Sir Wilfred Grenfell served in this mission until he founded the Grenfell Mission.


The Fishermen's Mission aims to provide financial, emotional and pastoral support to fishermen and their families in over 70 ports and harbours throughout the United Kingdom and the Isle of Man. The Mission Centres provide showers, washing machines, accommodation, food, companionship and recreational activities (such as snooker tables and internet access).

Mission ships[edit]

The purpose of a ‘mission ship’ was to provide pastoral and spiritual support for fishermen at sea. The first Mission Ship to be commissioned was the Alpha in 1900, followed by the SS Joseph & Sarah Miles, and the Queen Alexandra in 1902. As well as being hospital ships, they were all equipped with fishing-gear and sent their fish to market with the rest of the fleet.[4]

The great difference between a Mission ship and an ordinary trawler, in connection with fishing, was that Mission ships did not fish on Sundays, whereas very many of the ordinary steam-trawlers did.[4] As a hospital ship these vessels carried a surgeon and surgeon's mate, along with a crew capable of turning their hands to nursing. A complete surgical outfit of instruments was available, including the ability to take X-rays. The hospital contained two swing cots and four berths for patients.[4]

Wood (1911) argued that "A Mission ship is one of the most interesting vessels afloat. She is a cruising hospital, a place of worship, a tobacco shop, a clothing establishment, a free library, a club-room, an hotel, and a recreation ground. If a smacksman is sick or injured, he will be fetched on board and receive skilled attention until he is better; if he wants to attend service and hoists a signal to indicate his wish, the Mission boat will call for him".[5]

See also[edit]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ "History of the Mission". 
  2. ^ "Deadliest Jobs". 
  3. ^ "History of the Mission". 
  4. ^ a b c RNMDSF (1905) Among the Deep Sea Fishers. Royal National Mission to Deep Sea Fishermen, Toronto, January 1905. 26pp. Accessed 02/07/2018
  5. ^ Wood, W. (1911) North Sea Fishers and Fighters. Kegan, Paul, Trench, Trubner and Co. London. 366 pp. - Accessed 02/07/2018