Sailors' Home and Seamen's Institute

Submitted by stephenD on Thu, 09/19/2013 - 14:38

I am writing the 150th anniversary history of the Sailor's Home and Mission to Seafarers in HK, at the behest of the Mission here, and would very much welcome permission to use (and a high res image please) any images of the early mission buidlings. I am particularly interested in finding an image of the premises of the mission from 1910-1933, which were situated at 21 Praya East (post 1922 reclamation 18 Johnson Road). Post 1933 until around the mid-1950s these old Mission premises became a government building partly occupied by the PWD.

I should also most welcome any information anyone has that might be relevant to the story of the Mission to Seamen here in HK (especially 1885-1920), to the history of St Peter's Church, to the Sailors' Home, to the Kowloon Institute (1896-1923) and any other aspects that anyone thinks might be helpful. 

The idea is to have a manuscript completed by the end of the year for publication by Eastertide 2014, as richly illustrated as possible.

Stephen Davies

Stephen Davies

Please can I double-check the location for this building? An 1897 map (UKNA ref: MPHH 1/412) shows 21 Praya East quite a bit further east than today's 18 Johnston Road. #21 was between Tai Wong Street East and Tai Wong Street West, one of the block of shophouses where The Pawn is today.

Regards, David

I found the answer in Carl Smith's "Wanchai: In Search of an identity", written in 1987, which says it was at the 18 Johnston Road address, on the corner with Gresson Street:

Institutions for the Military: at the western end of Wanchai there were and are institutions to serve the military forces and merchant seamen. The Royal Naval Canteen moved from a premise at the former naval Dockyard to the Blue Buildings on the Praya East about 1899. With the completion of the Praya East Reclamation it moved to Arsenal Street and Gloucester Road, changing its name to the China Fleet Club. Beside it on Gloucester Road was the Sailors Home and Mission to Seamen built in 1932. It was an amalgamation of the Sailors Home, West Point, founded for merchant seaman in 1864 and the Mission to Seamen which opened a residential Seamens Institute on Johnston Road (then Praya East) and Gresson Street about 1910. In 1967 the Sailors Home and Mission to Seamen moved to middle road, Tsim Sha Tsui and changed its name to the Mariners Club.

The English Methodists opened the Soldiers and Sailors Home on Arsenal Street at the Praya about 1900. When these buildings were demolished they built their present premises at Johnston Road and Anton Street in 1927. The Servicemen's guides were organised in the 1950s by a committee of Americans to provide facilities for American military and naval personnel on leave in Hong Kong. A Roman Catholic and Protestant Chaplain operated from Fenwick Pier.

Thanks much David. The address material comes from the Mission's headed writing paper from the period. Rev John Hoole France moved the mission out of the Sailors' Home in 1905, initially to rented premises in Wanchai that were further east than where the new building - with the 21 Praya East address, that was erected in 1909-1910, opening in the latter year. I think (not sure) the Gresson Street was the inland end of what became Fenwick St once the Praya East reclamation went ahead. I can't explain the muddle over the number 21 unless, for some mad reason, the mission stuck with a very out of date address (maybe to save money printing new stock) until the Praya East reclamation forced them to move. Smehow I don't think so because when the address did change, they had a stamp made to cancel the Praya East address with the new one, which they would surely have done in the period between 1910 and 1925-6?