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One of the oldest hotels in Portsmouth, the Club was first established here at Queen Street in 1851. Back then it was known as the Sailors' Home and was set up to look after sailors. Back then seamen of the Royal Navy were treated terribly when they returned, and after two or three years at sea, this was an unkindness our founders could not bear. Thus the Sailor's Home was opened to provide respectable home comforts for our seamen, as well as being a safe place to leave their money.
The Club gained the prefix 'Royal' in 1855, after Prince Albert visited the hotel and Queen Victoria then became our patron. There have been royal visits throughout the 20th century too, including Queen Elizabeth II in 1986 (patron till 2007) and Prince Charles (patron since 2007) a year later.
Like so many others, our Club did not make it through World War II unscathed. On 10th January 1941, half the building was bombed, only for the remainder to be destroyed two months later on 10th March. However, the hotel was not abandoned. The Royal Navy built it again from the ground up, reopening on 4th March 1952. It has been a home from home for many ever since.
The club gained charitable status in 1883. Membership is open to all serving and retired members of the Armed Forces and their families as well as those of the Royal Navy, Royal Marines and Merchant Navy, for whom it was founded.
The Club – known familiarly for over 160 years as the “Home” Club – is an active charitable Trust that owns its land and buildings. It also owns a trading company which runs the building to generate surpluses for charitable activities, rather like a giant Oxfam shop or the Union Jack Club in London.
The Club has over 8,000 members of whom 7,500 are serving or retired Sailors (from both the Royal Navy and the Merchant Fleet), Royal Marines, Soldiers or Airmen. Police Officers, Fire and Ambulance Service members, volunteers from the RNLI and members of our local community make up the rest. Our Patron is HRH the Prince of Wales. You can access our annual accounts on the Charity Commissioners website.
Our charitable objectives, in a nutshell, are “the provision of accommodation, recreation and leisure time occupation” for our beneficiaries and “the relief of hardship and distress” amongst seafarers and their families. This enables the Club to offer free or reduced cost respite holidays and to make its facilities available to other naval and military charities.
The Club is home to Veterans Outreach Support, a charity which provided ex-servicemen and women with regular access to specialist help and counselling. The Club hosts special events throughout the year for children, families and military reunions.
The Royal Maritime Club (RMC) is not just a 3 star hotel, event and conference centre in an unrivalled position at the Historic Dockyard gate. It is also a registered Charity which has been providing welfare and leisure facilities to seamen and their families since the early 19th Century. Our current charitable priorities include providing the extra support needed after service life, a home base for our partner charities and a major regional leisure facility for all serving and veteran servicemen and women to enjoy.
During 2014/2015 a grant from Help for Heroes (H4H) enabled the Club to improve its facilities for the disabled, including a new lift to the Ballroom balcony and Clubroom. The RNRM Charity and Seafarers UK also shared the cost of our downstairs loo refurbishments – check out the new red, white and blue theme!
In January 2016 the Club received a generous bequest from the estate of former member Mr Donals Wickens. The trustees are very grateful for all the individual donations and bequests that help us keep the Club smart and shipshape.
During 2016/2017, the Club plans to improve access to and the utilization of its large lower ground floor, to enable it to be used as a Recovery and Rehabilitation Centre as well as a first class social space. There will be:
These exciting projects will provide much needed extra capacity by creating accessible lower ground facilities for multipurpose use. The Club’s vision for the future includes expanding and improving its facilities for veterans, members and guests, offering Aqua therapy, yoga, CST, meditation, treatment rooms for specialist physiotherapy and massage, plus additional consultation space.
Most of this work will be paid for by the Government Covenant Fund, which in May 2016 awarded a grant of over £300,000 to the Club. The Covenant is a promise from the Nation that those who serve, or have served and their families are treated fairly. The Royal Maritime Club wants to go further and ensure that our beneficiaries, members and guests enjoy the very best facilities in the heart of Portsmouth.