In 1958 there were branches /sections of the Watch Ashore in 20 ports, but obviously we now don’t have so many. There are several branches of The Watch Ashore that have since closed. We have had the Chains of Office of these branches framed and displayed in the Hull Maritime Museum.
- Bristol and Avonmouth
- North East Coast
- Fleetwood & Fylde
- Burton and Derby
The Watch Ashore Chairman Badges Handover Ceremony
The Handover ceremony of The Watch Ashore Chairman Badges took place on the 19th November 2009 at Hull Maritime Museum.
Mrs Margaret Gray, the then National Chairman, attended along with members of the Humber branch. Mrs Gray spoke a little about of the history of The Watch Ashore and of the now defunct badges, and that the Association was delighted that the badges were going to an ideal museum for safe keeping and display when appropriate. Mr Robin Diaper, the museum curator, spoke of his delight and the museum’s appreciation in receiving the badges.
The President’s Badge, which was last worn by Edith The Lady Headley, has been framed separately. Lady Headley, who was President from 1944-1976, was the wife of a Master Mariner and lived in Ayrshire, Scotland. Even when no longer President she rarely missed an Annual Meeting, and was a great asset to The Watch Ashore, stirring interest in its aims.
The oldest Chairman’s Badge on display is the Badge from Merseyside. Their first meeting in1934 was in a cafe in Birkenhead but developed into a thriving branch doing a lot of great work.
The Manchester and District Branch founded in1959. Again starting with a small number but swelled to fifty in 1963. Their badge of office was purchased in 1965 in the same year as Dame Anna Neagle joined members for luncheon in the Grand Hotel. In 1980, the branch Chairman Mrs Williamson lost her eldest son aged 21 when the MV Derbyshire disappeared.
Fleetwood and Fylde started in 1965 initially as Fleetwood but then broadened to take in the Fylde area in the hope of attracting more members. During a postal strike the Chairman seemingly collected mail weekly and gave it to her boss to post on the continent. It was so important the men receive mail from home.
Burton and Derby was formed in 1978 but because of it not being a sea port, never had a particularly big membership, but they made up for it with their enthusiasm! Mrs. Liz. Swan, a dearly loved member of The Watch Ashore, was working in a local radio station in Derby and because she had two sons and two nephews at sea was asked to interview Jo Ingram and Jean Simmons, both wives of Merchant Navy Officers, who wanted to start a local branch of The Watch Ashore. There was a good response but without being near the sea they didn't attract a large membership. Mrs Liz. Swan eventually became a National Chairman.
To view the Watch Ashore Chairman's dadges online visit http://www.hullcc.gov.uk/museumcollections. Any Watch Ashore member, or anyone else, wishing to view the badges can do so by contacting the Maritime Museum to make an appointment - Website: www.hullcc.gov.uk Tel: 01482 300 300 Text Phone: 01482 300 349