From 1945 to the present day
With the Second World 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 6 October 1953.
In 1963 the Committee decided to install a three panel stained glass window in the Chapel to commemorate 42 years service by Treasurer, Mr A M Holman whose family had been associated with the Seamen’s Mission for over 100 years. HRH Princess Marina, Duchess of Kent, visited on June 23rd 1965 to officially unveil the windows. On 06 March 1968 the West Block was re-opened after extensive renovations; the Mission then 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. With the closure of many of the docks along the upper Thames in the early seventies and the on-shore leave for sailors extending so it was that the Rest came to provide a home for men who frequently had nowhere to turn for longer periods of time. This brought a fresh opportunity to the Mission for increasing the social and pastoral work. In 1982, HRH Princess Alexandra, who had taken over as Patron from her mother in 1968, visited QVSR on 2nd November to unveil a plaque in her memory and to meet some of the Merchant Seamen who had received the Falklands Medal for the part they had played in supporting the task force. QVSR’s centenary had passed by uncelebrated because of the War so it was fitting to mark its 150th Anniversary in 1993. Since then the “Queen Vic” has had to continue to adjust to the re-development of the East End Dockland area and the modernisation of the shipping industry. 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. In addition to our chapel, a “quiet room” was created for multi faith worship. In 2009, in an echo of the refurbishment of a century past, the “Queen Vic Re-fit” project was launched; a phased redevelopment plan to transform the standard cabin like rooms with shared bathroom facilities into more modern and spacious rooms with an en-suite “wet room” facility including fitted shower, sink and toilet. In 2010 the front lobby area was refurbished to provide a more open, modern and welcoming reception and the old administration offices were converted to an open plan layout enabling our Welfare department to be more accessible at the entrance to QVSR. In 2015 the Emery Hall was completely refurbished to provide two meeting rooms on the upper mezzanine level. Named as the “Thomas Room” in recognition of Jean Thomas, retired Poplar schoolteacher and QVSR Trustee, and the “Stannard Room” after retired seafarer David Stannard who left a large legacy to the Queen Vic, his home for 31years, the rooms also have direct access to the main building via a link bridge. On the lower level a new kitchen, toilets, storerooms and an audio visual system complete the renovation. As QVSR’s 175th anniversary approached in 2018, the aim was to complete the refurbishment of all the bedrooms as well continuing to modernise other QVSR facilities. The reception and restaurant both got a new look in 2018. In 2019, the gym, originally created in 2014 in the activity centre, was relocated to the garden to make way for the “Roe Wing” of new rooms on the ground floor. The activity centre was also refurbished at the same time, an American pool table replacing the snooker tables, and a second outdoor room was added to the rear garden to provide a quiet space in which residents could relax, read or play music. Although all bedrooms had been modernised by 2018, it had not been possible to make all of them en-suite. With the addition of the rooms on the ground floor in 2019 work continued to convert the remaining rooms on the first and second floors at the back of the building and by the end of 2020, Phase 8 was completed. This resulted in 163 en-suite rooms in the main QSVSR building and a 6 further bedrooms in the former Manse building. In January 2021 work commenced on the Manse to transform the house into 10 en-suite bedrooms enabling us to offer 173 homeless men the dignity and comfort of a bedroom with private bathroom.
By giving a donation to QVSR you will be helping us to provide much needed welfare support to our residents, and to the active seafarers who transport essential goods to our shores.