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German Protestant Church and Seamen's Mission, Mill Dam, South Shields

2nd Durham Voluntary Aid Detachment Hospital

Type: Hospital

Originally, the German Seamen’s mission committee was set up in South Shields in 1880 to look after German immigrants in South Shields and sailors visiting the Tyne. The Seamen’s Home was built in 1906 for £5,000 and inaugurated in 1909.

During the First World War the mission was closed and the building used as the 2nd Durham Voluntary Aid Detachment hospital. Work of the mission began again in the 1920s. During World War II, staff of the seamen’s mission were either interned or deported to Germany. The mission was recommenced in 1952.


A report of the arrest of 20 residents, including the pastor, survive in the German State Archives in Freiburg. (RM 3/5371)

This was recorded as an institution to be put under surveillance when at war, which may have been due to Gustave Mell lodging there.

The records of the Church and Mission can be found at the Tyne and Wear Archives.

The following information comes from records held at the archives at the Museum of the Order of St John, and is used with their kind permission. Reference OSJ/1/1/12/4:

VAD Hospital, Mill Dam, South Shields
September 15th 1917

Commandant: Dr Harland

Hospital: This is a Seamans’ Home which has been taken by the St John’s Brigade for the purpose of a hospital.

Beds: 70 beds in
2 wards

Trained staff: 1 Matron
3 Sisters

Massage: 1 visiting Masseuse (Paid)

VADs: 5 work in shifts. All live out and are unable to give full time.

Paid help: 1 Cook

Remarks: This hospital is in good order, the patients are drawn from No. 1 Northern General and from the Barracks.

Signed: SA Swift

For further information:
Museum of the Order of St John
VAD Hospitals in Northumberland and Durham 1914-1918
Scarlet Finders
Historic England
Siteline website entry for Seamen’s Mission, Mill Dam

Civil Parish: South Shields

Contributed by Durham County Record Office