1944 brought a fresh menace to the Mission. On June 21st a V1 Flying-bomb fell in Jeremiah Street and the whole of the staff quarters were destroyed. Mercifully, there was no loss of life. Disaster struck again on August 3rd when another bomb displaced the temporary repairs and added further damage, but restoration was done by the seamen lodgers and it was a source of pride that the Rest never closed.
With the war over, plans for the centenary extension of another 60 bedrooms and other sundry communal rooms resumed but it was not until 1950 that the Mission was able to return to the enterprise in earnest with funding coming from the Centenary Appeal, King George’s Fund for Sailors, the Joseph Rank Benevolent Trust and the War Damages Commission.
The new development was in two parts, one each end of the building. The North Block included an officers’ lounge and billiard room together with a chapel, library and 35 bedrooms for officers. The South Block provided not only a common room and rest rooms, two cafes and new bedrooms for ratings, but also a spacious entrance hall with an imposing entrance onto the main road. This necessitated a change of postal address from Jeremiah Street to 121-131 East India Dock Road. At the same time the rest of the buildings were given a facelift as they were due for decoration and modernisation. HRH the Duchess of Kent paid her first official visit to re-open the extended and restored buildings on the 6th October 1953.
The 1960’s was a time of great change; the Mission continued with a programme of modernisation and rationalisation which took several years to complete. A standard had been set back in 1901 that each room in QVSR should be more comfortable than the accommodation men were given on board ship and this was again the aim. By the close of 1974, 183 rooms, 7 residential flats, and all the public rooms had been transformed.
Over the next thirty years, the “Queen Vic” had to adjust itself in line with the re-development of the East End Dockland area and the modernisation of the shipping industry. In order to maintain financial efficiency, space was made to allow a number of retired seamen a more permanent home at QVSR whilst also providing a home for non-seafarers who had nowhere else to turn.
An increased use of the London River, from Barking Creek to Silvertown, re-kindled the need to provide a service that supports the welfare of active seafarers using the Port of London. In 2005, the Burnham Activity Centre was opened to provide a “Café Maritime” service in conjunction with the German Seamen’s Mission and the Apostleship of the Sea and in addition to our chapel, a “quiet room” was created for multi faith worship.
In 2009, in an echo of the refurbishment of the past, the Queen Vic Re-fit project was launched; a seven year phased re-development plan to create larger rooms with an en suite “wet room” facility including a fitted shower, sink & WC. In 2010 the front lobby area was refurbished to provide a more open, modern and welcoming reception. The old administration offices were also converted into an open plan layout enhancing communication between departments and enabling our Welfare department to be more accessible right at the entrance to QVSR.
QVSR will continue to strive to fulfil the aims of the original Seamen’s Mission with an ongoing programme of development and renovation to meet the needs and expectations of all its service users; seafarers and non-seafarers alike.
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