Our 200 Year Anniversary in 2021 – providing support to former seafarers’ families in need since 1821

Sailor’s Children’s Society celebrated 200 years on Monday 19th April 2021 and we commemorated this fantastic occasion by a
couple of events on the day.   The programme of events that were planned for 2021 and for 2022 are as follows:

  • The morning of 19th April 2021 – a meeting of four people including our Chairman and the Lord Mayor was held on the banks of the River Humber to mark our 200 Year Anniversary.  A huge thank you goes to SMS Towage and the crews of the vessels Superman and Pullman who kindly arranged to use their tug boat’s water cannons to launch the celebrations was spectacular.  Radio Humberside and Look North were present during this fantastic occasion.
  • Our 200 Year Celebrations Video is available to view on YouTube by clicking here
  • Monday 19th April 2021 – Deanne Thomas our Chief Executive Officer, Lord Halifax, our President and Christopher Towne, our Chairman presented on Zoom in the presence of over 100 people at 5pm to commemorate and announce the start of the celebrations with our supporters, staff and Trustees and to launch our Together for 200 Campaign via Enthuse.
  • 24th July 2021 – Our Chief Executive Officer, Deanne Thomas and our Family Support Officer, Louise Hopwood in the South East abseiled down the Spinnaker Tower in Portsmouth raising awareness and funds and a huge thank you to all that supported them.  Thank you to all the supported families who took part in the 200 Readathon through our facebook page.
  • 5th August 2021 – our Annual General Meeting took place at the Hallmark Hotel in North Ferriby at 12 noon.  Martin Needler chaired the meeting in the absence of Lord Halifax who was unable to attend.  It was attended by 33 people.
  • Spring 2023 – a Bicentenary Dinner will take place at the Hull Minster.  Due to Covid restrictions, unfortunately we have had to delay the timing of this event.  We will be inviting all of our 200 Business Club members and this will be a limited ticket based event.  The availability for these tickets and how to apply will be announced nearer the date.
  • Autumn/Winter 2023 – we will have an Exhibition at the Hull History Centre where we have a full display of our photographs showing the history of the Society and some artefacts.  It is hoped a video will be made about our 200 year history through the Yorkshire Film Archive and will be made available to view by the end of this year.


1821  On the 19th April 1821, a meeting convened by public advertisement in the Boys’ Schoolroom to organise a Society, the designation of which was to be “The Port of Hull Society for the Religious Instruction to Seamen”.  The floating chapel “Valiant” opened for worship in the Humber Dock.

1823  Ship’s library facility formed in the floating chapel which continued though to the 1970’s in conjunction with the British Sailors’ Society.

1824  Marine School opened for the purpose of improving sea apprentices in writing, reading, arithmetic and navigation.

1837  Sailors Orphan Institute established in Waterhouse Lane for clothing and educating of deceased seamen and rivermen.

1862  First orphan house opened in Castle Row.

1867  Society purchased Thanet House, Park Street for £4,500 to accommodate one hundred orphans.

1868  First Royal Patronage – HRH Rear Admiral, the Duke of Edinburgh.

1892  Six acres purchased at Newland on which to erect a model village.

1897  School opened for primary school teaching of the Society’s children.

1914  First children of Royal Navy casualties received into the Society’s care.

1919  Society incorporated under the Companies Act.

1936  The inaugural meeting of the Old Scholars Association.

1939  Opening of the first residential Seamen’s Institute.

1941  Children evacuated to Brighouse and Pateley Bridge.

1946  Re-occupation of Newland by the children.

1950  Society name change to “Sailors’ Childrens’ Society”.

1953  Beginning of subsidisation of children in their own homes.

1961  Six thousand children supported since our work began.

1963  Opened first house for elderly seafarers.

1965  Homes for elderly seafarers in Lowestoft, Goole and Grimsby.

1983  Introduction of “halfway houses” for adolescents.

1991  Society name change to “Sailors’ Families’ Society”.

1996  Advance child care programme at Newland, strengthen support for seafaring families throughout the country and continue with the care of our resident retired seafarers.

2003  Following the death of Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, patron since 1937, HRH The Princess Royal agrees to become the patron of the Society.

2004  The last child leaves Newland and the Family Support Scheme looking after children in their own homes becomes the Society’s primary focus.

2009  Newland estate is sold to student accommodation provider.

2011  Society celebrates its 190th Anniversary of care and currently supports nearly 400 disadvantaged children of seafarers.  Help provided includes child welfare grants, clothing grants and caravan holidays.

Re-enactment of the very first public meeting organised on 19th April 2011 as a mark of respect to all those people who have helped the Society over the years.

2016 to the Present Day  The Society currently supports over 450 children and young people throughout the United Kingdom on our Child Support Scheme.  During the pandemic in 2020/21, these numbers rose to 750 children.  Family Support Officers provide a little steps programme to help families move forwards and have service links to other specialised organisations. Our aim during this time is to allow children to be children as they adjust to the new circumstances and encourage the family to become more independent again.