RNLI historic dates

From our historian


1824 Founded as the “National Society for the Preservation of Life from Shipwreck” by Lt Col Sir William Hillary as a completely voluntary organisation supported by voluntary donations.
1854 Captain Ward invents the first life jacket, and then the society changes its name to its present title of “The Royal National Lifeboat Institution
1884 The lifeboat flag designed, based on the flag of St George
1886 St Anne’s and Southport lifeboats lost, with a loss of 27 lifeboat men
1890 The first of six steam lifeboats goes on service, the first three were jet propelled, and the second three were propeller driven.
1891 The first street collection and Flag Day was held at Stockport, Manchester by Charles Macara
1899 Lynmouth lifeboat was hauled 10 miles overland by lifeboat men to answer a call
1909 The first petrol engine powered lifeboat
1917 The bronze medal added to the silver and gold awards
1921 The first Ladies lifeboat guild is formed
1924 One hundred years of lifeboats, with 59,979 lives saved. The cost of runningthe lifeboat service for the previous year, 1923, was £110,000 equal to one farthing per head of population. Radio is introduced to lifeboats
1948 Henry Blogg, the greatest of all lifeboat men, retires after 53 years service on lifeboats, 38 of those years were as Coxwain. He was awarded 3 gold and 4 silver medals from the RNLI and the George Medal and an MBE from King George VI. He died on 13 June 1954
1957 Helicopters start co-operating with lifeboats
1963 Inshore inflatable lifeboats were introduced; they were called “Zodiacs”
1965 The first of 3 Clyde class lifeboats was built – 70 ft long! The biggest RNLI lifeboats ever built
1969 Elizabeth Hosvedt became the first woman lifeboat crew member at Atlantic College
1979 Senior Coxwain Brian Bevan of Humber lifeboat was awarded Gold, Silver & Bronze medals in the same year
1980 The Penlee lifeboat disaster! 8 crew members lost their lives bringing the total to 435 lifeboat men since the founding
1982 A baby girl was born on board the Oban lifeboat “Ann Richie”. The little girl was named Ann after the lifeboat
1994 BBC Childrens programme Blue Peter raised sufficient money to replace the six Blue Peter inshore lifeboats plus enough to pay for a Trent class all weather lifeboat named Blue Peter VII
1999 All round celebrations for the 175 years of the RNLI saving lives at sea