24th August 2020
Our thanks go to Ann Godden for sharing this story on the Sailors' Home as part of our appeal for stories, photos and memories.
The house on Salthouse Lane was built in 1780 as a private residence. But for many years it was the Sailors’ Home, serving the many seamen who came through the port of Hull.
Early residents included Arthur Maister and his family and several Aldermen. One resident who had a close connection with the port was American-born Richard Acklom Harrison who became Hull’s Collector of Customs in 1784. This became a major job with the opening of the new dock. He bought the house in 1801 and resigned as Collector in 1805, having made a great deal of money.
In 1828, the house was sold to the Bank of England but it was empty again in 1859 and was bought by a committee of local worthies who saw the need for a hostel for the increasing number of seamen who passed through the port. It was quite usual for a man to be paid off at the end of his voyage and rapidly lose all his money in the local pubs and other places of entertainment. £3,500 was raised and the house opened in 1860. It was equipped with kitchens and dormitories, funded by donors, and soon had about 70 guests at a time. To encourage seamen to use it the pilots who went out to guide ships into port were supplied with cards to distribute to the crews.
This prompted the local lodging-house keepers to take the charity to court for unfair advertising, but they lost their case.
"Sailors are provided with board and lodging at 2s. 6d. a day, or 14s. a week. Single meals are charged as follows:- Breakfast, 9d.; Dinner, 1s.; Tea, 9d.; a night's lodging, 6d. Breakfast is ready at 8 o'clock, but can be had, if necessary, between 7 and 9. Dinner is on the table at 12 o'clock, where it remains one hour; but if the men are unavoidably absent, they can have dinner until 2.
Tea is served at 6 o'clock. On Sundays, the dinner hour is half-past 12 o'clock. The house doors are closed at 12, after which no inmate will be admitted without a pass. Any Sailor desirous of having his money, clothes, or other property in the Home, when he goes to see his friends, the said property will be taken care of (an inventory being made and signed), and returned to him without any charge."
The rules of the house were published in the annual report (this one is from 1874) along with the charges. It was forbidden to bring in women, unless they were the men’s close relatives. By 1891 Brown’s Guide could report that “---there is accommodation for 85 persons. There are two large dining-halls, a comfortable reading-room and an excellent library. Draughts and other amusing games are at the service of the sailors.”
There was often a shortage of money and the charity had to plead for donations. There was also a recurring problem with wardens, who lived in with their families and were sometimes found to be dishonest or drunk. But the Sailors’ Home continued to provide a much-needed service through the First World War.
The 52nd AGM of the Sailors’ Home in 1917 was held at the newly-built Guildhall. The newspaper reported that “during the past year many sailors have been brought in rescued from ships which have been torpedoed. ” There had been a nightly average of 17 men in the Home. The Mayor called it “a remarkable institution” which “lent encouragement and a good incentive to those who come ashore.”
In November 1943 the Sailors’ Home was donated to the London-based Missions to Seamen, which modernised it to the design of architects Messrs. Horth and Andrew.
It was reopened as the Flying Angel Club on September 18th 1946. In November 1943 the Sailors’ Home was donated to the London-based Missions to Seamen, which modernised it to the design of architects Messrs, Horth and Andrew.
On the ground floor there was now a lounge, dining room and large kitchen, an entrance hall and office, a toilet, a boiler room and storerooms. On the first and second floors there were “22 cabins affording bunks for 30 seamen” according to a survey carried out in 1955, although the original intention had apparently been to provide a number of double rooms to be made available to seamen and their wives. Hot and cold running water was provided in every room, and there were showers and baths on each landing. There was also a flat for the caretaker. At either side of the main house were various outbuildings, including a toilet block.
The Flying Angel Club kept its Salthouse Lane premises for more than 20 years, before new, purpose-built premises were opened on Hedon Road in 1969. The house, now a listed building, was compulsorily purchased by the City Council in 1966 and was, for a short period, the Royal Navy and Royal Marine Club; but it was soon empty and during the 1970s and 1980s it saw neglect and decay, and its history was forgotten.
In 1986 the William Sutton Trust, a Housing Association, bought the house and converted it into 12 flats for single people.