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Great Yarmouth Sailors' Home

Introduction

The Sailors Home was founded in 1861 and in its one hundred year history cared for more than 11000 shipwrecked sailors. They were given accommodation, food and basic medical care, sometimes having been through terrible ordeals.

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Great Yarmouth Sailors' Home

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The facilities at the Sailors' Home

The full title of the Sailors' Home was the Great Yarmouth Beachmen and Fishermens' Institute, British and Foreign Sailors' Home and Refuge for the Shipwrecked of All Nations.

The Home was eventually located on the old Coastguard Station site on the front, which was a central and convenient location.

The Home provided sailors with somewhere to call home if they were between berths, or if they had no land-based home to go to. It was intended as an alternative to ordinary lodging houses where there was a concern that they might be exposed to fraud.

The Home was open from 6am to 10pm, although the Night Refuge room was open at all hours every day. Basic facilities offered included bed, meals, washing facilities and clothes washing facilities. These could be paid for at a daily or weekly rate. Free facilities to sailors included the Reading Room where newspapers, the Shipping Gazette, stationery and timetables were provided. Coffee and tobacco were available and there were also games. There was also the library which housed sea charts and herring statistics. the only religious item in the library was the Bible. The museum displayed model boats, ethnographic items and stuffed birds and animals. Examinations for masters and mates had been introduced in 1850 and mariners could study for their certificates in the nautical classroom. The Home possessed such useful items as an 8 day clock, telescope, barometer, compass and sextant.

Sailors were often paid off at the end of their voyage. A number of initiatives were set up to protect them from the temptation to squander their money. A branch of the Seamen's Savings Bank operated from the Home, arrangements were made to pay the families of those at sea by a system of Allotment Notes, and money orders were made without fee. Advice was also readily available as to the best places to shop.

Sailors' other needs were also met. Dry clothes were available and the Home provided storage space for mariners' belongings in the attic whilst they were at sea. The Home also acted as a Poste Restante and offered assistance to those who needed help in writing letters. In addition the Home acted as an unofficial employment agency away from the public house: 'To offer to masters and owners in the shipping or fishing interest the means of meeting the men and transacting their business with them quietly and respectably away from evils'.

There was to be no discussion of religion or politics and no advantages offered to a member of any religion. The Home really did recognise that it was offering faclities to those from all nations.

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