Detail of the Baltic Exchange Honour Roll


£1,000 via an unexpected historical connection

The Baltic Exchange Charitable Foundation, which is the charitable arm of the Baltic Exchange, has awarded the Edward Hain Centre a £1,000 grant ‘in recognition of Edward Hain being one of the Baltic fallen.’ How did this special grant from an historical connection come about?

Baltic Exchange Charitable Foundation logo

The Edward Hain referred above to is Captain Edward ‘Teddy’ Hain, the namesake of our Centre. It would be easy to think, as I did growing up, that it referred to his father, who owned the highly successful Hain Steamship Company. The Baltic Exchange is an organisation for the maritime industry that provides a framework for its members to commit to high standard of business practice. Not surprisingly, Edward Hain Snr., who was ‘big in shipping’ even before he received a knighthood in 1910 for services to the shipping industry, was a member.

In 1912, Teddy also became a member. Previously apprenticed in South Shields as a shipbuilder and engineer, at the time he joined the Exchange he was a new electee on the board of his father’s company. The expectation was that he would eventually take the company over.

A change of family fortunes

WWI, however, prevented that version of history from happening. In 1915, Teddy and his regiment set sail for Gallipoli. A few months later, just hours before he was due to ship home, a shell hit him in his dugout. Sir Edward died 2 years later. With no heir to take the company over, the Hain board soon sold it. The Hain’s small seafaring dynasty came to an end. Teddy’s name, however, carried on in the Edward Hain Memorial Hospital, founded by his parents as a tribute to their only son. It opened in 1920.

The story of the hospital’s sad demise exactly 100 years later, and its re-casting as a new health and wellbeing centre, is local legend: The NHS closing its wards in 2016; the four years of various protests by St. Ives townsfolk; its complete closure in 2020. Then the turnaround, when in 2021, the Friends of the former hospital decided to buy the building to create a new health and wellbeing hub, whose opening we celebrated in September 2023 with our open weekend launch of the new Edward Hain Centre.

The historical context established, the initial question remains: how did such a grant to the new centre come about?

A historical discovery

Like any charity, particularly a new one, it has to earn its keep. Our building is structurally sound, but needs a lot of renovation. The Edward Hain Centre charity is also carrying a £400,000 mortgage, necessary to cover the shortfall between funds raised for the building’s purchase, and the £1 million price.  The Centre will become financially sustainable once all of its rooms are rented out to the many interested health and wellbeing providers who want them; but until then, donations and grants are essential.

So when Gerry O’Riordan, a great-nephew of Captain Edward’s, contacted his cousin on the EHC board of trustees—me—and suggested I contact the Baltic Exchange to see if they would donate, I thought, why not? But who to contact? Gerry forwarded me a PDF article, ‘The Baltic Exchange Roll of Honour,’ written with evident care and sincerity by one Ian Lauder.

The Roll lists the names of Baltic Exchange members who lost their lives in WWI and WW2. Tenth down in column two of the 1914-1918 list, is Edward Hain. I had no idea that he was memorialised elsewhere; nor that the place where he died is also memorialised: on an exquisite stained glass window commemorating all of the Exchange’s WWI fallen. Made by John Dudley Forsyth, and standing an amazing nine-plus feet high, it was installed in 1922.

In 1992, a bomb attack on the Exchange badly damaged the window. It took years to repair, after which it was moved to its current home at the Maritime Museum at Greenwich. Two of its panels show a list of locations where so many soldiers lost their lives. Gallipoli, where Edward fell, is one of them.

Out of the blue

The extent to which Ian Lauder wrote about my great-uncle’s story touched me deeply. He even knew about the hospital founded in Edward’s memory, and also about its closure by the NHS in 2020. Perhaps he could help in my quest. Digging further online, I soon discovered that he had recently retired as Director of the Exchange. I found his email address online and wrote to him.

I explained who I was, and that I’d read his PDF. Was he aware that the Edward Hain Memorial Hospital’s 2020 closure wasn’t the end of its story? I asked, then wrote about the new Centre. Now, I said, after spending £1million to purchase the building, we didn’t have enough left for extensive renovations. We were looking for financial help. Could he let me know who at the Exchange I might apply to, or put me in touch with anyone there who could possibly help?

At 2AM I pressed ‘send.’ I never know what to expect when sending out-of-the blue appeals. Will anyone even reply? I didn’t have to wonder for long. Hours later I awoke to an email from Mr. Lauder. He wrote that he was fascinated to hear from a relative of Edward Hain, and glad that the hospital building was being revived.

Coming full circle

Regarding my questions, Mr. Lauder – Ian – said he’d make enquiries with his contacts at the Exchange. He emphasised, however, that the Baltic Exchange’s Charitable Foundation (BECF) usually directs its funding to maritime concerns like the provision of lifeboats, and education grants for Exchange members and their families. He was unsure about our chances.

I wrote thanking him, expecting at best to hear back within a few days. But again, the very next day, I received another email – this time, from the Chair of the Baltic Exchange’s Charitable Foundation, Mike Robson. It was cc’d to Ian and the BECF’s secretary, Anthony Carroll. Mike reiterated Ian’s comment about charitable funds usually going to maritime organisations, but said he would put it to the board at their April meeting. Despite their uncertainty about the outcome, their kind willingness to put our case to the BECF’s board was heartening.

Three months later, towards the end of April, I heard back from Mike. The trustees of the BECF had voted to grant us £1,000.

As for connection, I now feel connected to these three kind gents from a 300-year-old shipping institution whose history ties so poignantly to my own, as well as to St. Ives’s. One of them, it turns out, lives in Cornwall, and intends to visit the Centre someday. When stories weave together in this way it never ceases to fill me with a sense of wonder. This grant, both for us and for the BECF, feels special indeed: like a thread of the Edward Hains’ stories coming full circle, and coming home.

Photos of the Baltic Exchange’s Honour Roll and memorial glass used by their kind permission.

Photos of opening day: Lindsay Day, Colin Higgs


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