Loneliness, danger, separation from loved ones. These are just some of the problems seafarers face. The Mission to Seafarers, a charity and part of the Anglican Church, is there worldwide offering them help and support. Use this site to find out more.
  
UK registered charity no: 212432
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 TIMELINE

MISSION TO SEAFARERS' HISTORY ALONGSIDE WORLD EVENTS
 
Early Days
1768
 
 
 
Cook begins exploring the Pacific.
1833
 
 
 
Slavery abolished throughout the British Empire
1835
 
 
 
John Ashley, a young Anglican clergyman, who was to become the Mission's founder, is holidaying at Clevedon near Bristol. The story goes that as he walks along the cliffs with his daughter, the little girl asks how the islanders of Steep Holm and Flat Holm are able to go to church.
John Ashley

The Revd John Ashley
1837
 
 
 

Ashley founds the Bristol Channel Mission. In the following 15 years he visits over 14,000 ships at sea and sells more than 5,000 Bibles and prayer books to British seamen.


A Mission chaplain holds a service on the deck of a sailing ship
1838
 
 
 
Regular Atlantic Steamship Service begins
1843
 
 
 
First propeller driven ship launched (Isambard Kingdom Brunel's SS Great Britain).
1851
 
 
 
The Great Exhibition promotes the best of British Technology.
1855
 
 
 
Bristol Channel Missions to Seaman formed.
1856
 
 
 
The Missions to Seamen founded.
Foundation meeting
   
 
Worldwide Growth
1857
 
 
 

Work started on the Mersey, Humber and Tyne rivers, with the appointment of chaplains.

The Mission's flag flies for the first time.
Flag design

1858
 
 
 
By 1858 the society was represented by 14 stations manned by seven chaplains, seven honorary chaplains and six scripture readers. The 14 stations were: Southampton, Liverpool, South Shields, Swansea, Tyne and Wear, Avonmouth, Bristol, Great Yarmouth, Hartlepool, The Tees, Ryde, IOW, Milford, Cork, Ireland and London.

Readers were also sent to Nova Scotia and then to Madras and Singapore, the first links in Asia.

1859
 
 
 
Work commences on the Suez Canal.
   
 
Pioneering Days
1863
 
 
 
A seafarer on board a ship at Antwerp spoke gratefully of a visit to the Seamen's Institute at Sydney, and said what a good time he and his shipmates had had there.

"I have been in a good many Missions all over the world", he said, "but never in any of them have I had so hearty a welcome as from The Mission to Seamen. Whenever I see the Flying Angel I know that I am at home."


Facilities

Christmas at the Sydney Institute
1869
 
 
 
Suez Canal opens to shipping.
1874
 
 
 
1874-1891 – The Revd Robert Boyer contributes strongly to the eradication of the practice known as crimping.
Crimping

The Revd Robert Boyer
1891
 
 
 
Invention of the periscope, making submarine navigation possible.
1899
 
 
 
1899 – 1902 – The Boer War.
1900
 
 
 
1900 –1910 – The change from sail to steam did not herald improvement in conditions in which seamen lived. It is believed that one seafarer in every 250 died simply because he was a seaman, eating inadequate food and living in appalling accommodation.
1903
 
 
 
Early 1900s – The shift from sail to steam dramatically changed the way that The Missions to Seamen operated; chaplains no longer need to visit ships at anchor by launch as ships came alongside as soon as they arrived in port.
Sail and steam ships in the port of Shanghai
1911
 
 
 
1911–1914 – National Sailors’ and Firemen’s Union of Great Britain and Ireland helped increase pay from a mere £3.50 a month to an average of £5.50 a month.
1912
 
 
 
Titanic sinks with the loss of over 1,500 lives.
   
 
Changing Times
1914
 
 
 
1914 –1918 – WWI
With the outbreak of the First World War some smaller stations were closed down and 15 chaplains were called for naval service. However, with encouragement from the Royal Naval Authorities, 27 new stations opened in Britain, and 24 new stations overseas, helped meet war-time emergencies.
First World War

Caring Across the Seas
1917
 
 
 
The Russian Revolution begins.
1918
 
 
 
Following the First World War, The Missions to Seaman came under immense pressure and helped out many unemployed seamen who had lost their jobs in the economic depression.
economic depression
1924
 
 
 
RNLI’s 100th anniversary: 59,975 lives saved, fleet of 221 lifeboats around UK and Ireland.
1939
 
 
 
1939 – 1945 – WWII
Mission’s involvement begins on the first day of the Second World War.
Second World War

1940
 
 
 
Winston Churchill becomes Prime Minister.
1945
 
 
 
Following the Second World War the society, in response to the end of the war and to changes in shipping, began the reorganisation of its network of centres, closing some stations and re-establishing others.
The opening and blessing of the Dampier Seafarers’ Centre in Western Australia
1950
 
 
 
Sea-Land corporation set up by Malcolm Mc Lean – containerisation of shipping, meaning larger ships with smaller crews.
1956
 
 
 
Centenary of The Missions to Seamen – the Mission now has centres in 81 ports.
1956
 
 
 
The Suez Crisis
1960
 
 
 
1960s to 1970s – Shipping trends change which means that The Mission must change in order to meet the new needs of seafarers.
new needs of seafarers

At the shop in Halifax, Canada, Seafarers can quickly stock up on essentials
1969
 
 
 
The umbrella organisation, the International Christian Maritime Association, is established to stimulate co-operation between different denominations working to provide welfare facilities for seafarers.
International Christian Maritime Association
1969
 
 
 
Neil Armstrong is the first man to walk on the moon.
1980
 
 
 
1980 – 1988 Iran – Iraq war
Mission chaplains in ports in the Persian Gulf help seafarers caught up in the Iran - Iraq hostilities.
Iran - Iraq war

A tanker burning after being targeted by Iraqi bombers
1982
 
 
 
The Falklands conflict.
1985
 
 
 
Mission appointed its first chaplain to develop the society’s work in the area of justice.
justice

A protest in Dunkerque about months of unpaid wages
1991
 
 
 
The Gulf War.
1998
 
 
 
Consultative Forum formed to enable meetings of representatives from different parts of the word to discuss seafarers’ changing needs and the future development of the worldwide society.
2000
 
 
 
The Mission to Seamen becomes The Mission To Seafarers
The Mission To Seafarers

The Princess Royal, the Mission’s president, looks at the new flag at the rededication service
   
 
Present and Future Challenges
2000
 
 
 
The Mission has full-time chaplains and/or centres in more than 100 ports around the world, and is represented in some 200 others by honorary chaplains.
Challenges