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Victorian Merchant Maritime Sailors

#1
Hi everyone,
I do hope that you can help. I am writing a simple book for my children about their great, great, grandfather. His name was Edward Coleman. He was in the merchant navy (very approx between 1870-1913). Apparently he always sailed out of London. I believe one of these ship's was called the Airlie. But I am unsure of his maritime status on board any of these ships. Although I have a great deal of information on their ancestor I can not find out where he would have signed on in London's East End to be a member of a crew. Or how did he even know that a ship required a new member of the crew. I believe that he would have signed a crew agreement with the Captain of the ship. If so where would this take place? In an shipping office! At the ship! In a pub! No one seems to know the answer! The ships came into London and off loaded their cargo at the London docks. But there was a huge wall surrounding the docks. Preventing merchant sailors access to the ships or their Captains.

If anyone knows the answer I would be very grateful. Yours Neil
 

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