1923 - Empire Memorial Hostel - Commercial Road, Limehouse, London, UK
Posted by: Groundspeak Regular Member Master Mariner
N 51° 30.754 W 000° 01.938
30U E 705918 N 5711002
This building that stands at the junction of Commercial Road and Salmon Lane, in London's East End, was built in 1823 as the Empire Memorial Hostel.
Waymark Code: WMEQ3A
Location: London, United Kingdom
Date Posted: 06/25/2012
Published By:Groundspeak Premium Member saopaulo1
Views: 3


The cornerstone is on the left-hand side of the building when facing the front doors. This was the original wing with a further wing being built, later, in Salmon Lane.

This building was 'home' to me for about six months in 1970 whilst I attended college at the Merchant Navy College in Tower Hill doing my mid-apprenticeship course. My room was on the first floor and overlooked Commercial Road. It wasn't luxurious but it was clean.

The East London Postcard website (visit link) featured the building in November 2005. Its entry reads:
"Empire Memorial Hostel, Limehouse

The Hostel, on the corner of Commercial Road and Salmon Lane, was opened in 1924 by the British Sailor Society.  It was built from a Fund set up in 1917 by the Ladies Guild of the British Sailor Society, whose President, Beatrice, Dower Lady Dumsdale, laid the foundation stone on 13th March 1923. 

The Fund’s aim was to provide a fitting Memorial to all the seamen who had lost their lives in the First World War.  It had a novel fund raising idea: individuals and groups could have their name associated with parts of the building or its equipment.  The money was raised from the Dominions and Colonies as well as from every part of the British Isles. 

It was the proud boast of the Hostel that its accommodation was of the highest standard and they had a very high occupancy rate to prove it.  In fact, seamen would have to book in advance and they were not always successful, dispute there being 250 cabins.  A seaman had a cabin of his own and the use of a large lounge, a dining hall and a billiard room, with four tables.  In the 1930s a room would cost 1/6 a night or 8/- a week.  Inside the Hostel, in the large lounge, was a marble memorial to all those seamen who had lost their lives in the Great War.  The memorial tablet had the words “For King and Country” and hung on either side was a Red and White Ensign.  While in the library was a large portrait of Seaman Drury, RNR, the first seaman to win the Victoria Cross. 

The success of the Hostel led to a new wing being constructed in Salmon Lane with 100 cabins and a large hall for functions.  The foundation stone was laid on 27th April 1932 and opened a few years later.  Money for the extension was raised as before.  

With the closure of the Docks in the 1960s and 1970s, the Hostel lost its seamen and closed in 1979.  The Hostel was sold, renamed “Prince’s Lodge”, and became a “home” for the homeless.  Controversy dogged “Prince’s Lodge” and it closed in 1985.  In 1994, the Hostel was sold again this time to a property developer who converted it into 50 private flats and gave it a new name “The Mission”."

Year of construction: 1923

Full inscription:
This foundation stone was laid by Beatrice Dowager Lady Dimsdale O.B.E. With whom the project of building this memorial hostel originated and to whose devotion and energy its success is so largely due. 13th of March 1923.

Cross-listed waymark: Not listed

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