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A bit about the British and Foreign Sailors’ Society

Occasionally, When I have a bit of time to myself, I enjoy taking long walks. I ensure I have no agenda, just pick a loose route and follow it with my pad, pencils and paint.

On one afternoon I found myself on a loose end in East London, So, looking at the map I decided that I would take a walk up The Limehouse Cut. This being a broad canal which ‘cuts’ north east through East London from Limehouse on the Thames to the river Lea. It was opened in 1770 and is London’s oldest canal.

I don’t know why I The Limehouse Cut; I think I just liked the name; it has a sense of adventure about it.

I left the Limehouse Basin to begin my walk. It can often take a few miles before I discover something of interest however on this occasion it was only a few minutes before
I discovered this fine London brick building between Newell Street and the canal.

It was constructed in 1920 by British and Foreign Sailors’ Society. Established a sea training school for boys. Interestingly it had a swimming pool in the basement. It may still.

The training programme was six months with plenty of strict rules for admission including being at least 5ft 1inches tall, aged between 14 1/2 and 16 years old, and able to swim 100 yards. If that wasn’t enough, you also needed a medical certificate, with a few decent character references. When I was that age, I’m not sure I’d have made all the criteria.

Once I’d finished the painting, I continued my walk and made one- or two-colour notes though my first painting took up most of my time so, I didn’t manage to get to the end of The Limehouse Cut. I shall return.

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