On Tuesday, Princess Alexandra paid a visit to the famous Queen Victoria Seamen’s Rest. Affectionately known as ‘Queen Vic’, she opened the building’s newest expansion – the Simco Wing, added in time for the Queen Vic’s 175th anniversary.
The Simco Wing cost £1.2 million to construct, and is named after the former general secretary and current chairman Terry Simco to honour his 50 years of service. Mr Simco was among those who met the Princess during her visit, along with Methodist Conference president Steven Wild and local VIPS.
So far, 92 new en-suite rooms have been completed, with the current phase expected to be finished later this year. An official at the Seamen’s Rest spoke about the new wing, saying: “We’ll have 102 en-suite rooms when this phase is completed. Our aim is to make sure our accommodation is all modernised by 2018 for our 175th anniversary.”
Queen Victoria Seamen’s Rest started off in 1843 as the Wesleyan’s Seamen’s Mission. In 1887, the Mission used a renovated tavern with a Bible Room and prayer hall as the first Seamen’s Rest. It was meant for the mariners in London, but as the Mission’s sphere expanded, the old premises proved too small. The Seamen’s Rest was built at its present location in 1899, and in 1901, King Edward VII gave his consent for it to bear the name of his mother, Queen Victoria.
In 1905, the Connaught Floor was added and the Nelson Memorial Fund was started to mark the centenary of the Battle of Trafalgar. Opened in 1931, the Memorial Wing honours the 20,000 merchant seamen who lose their lives during the First World War. Princess Alexandra’s mother, Princess Marina, Duchess of Kent, was Patron of the Seamen’s Rest, and paid her first official visit to the Queen Vic in 1953.
Today, the Queen Vic is the largest shelter for seamen and ex-members of the Armed Forces in Britain.
Photo credit: Antony Howard via Flickr