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RNLI Historic Lifeboat Collection

Chatham museum-The Lifeboat Gallery

The RNLI Historic Lifeboat Collection at the Historic Dockyard in Chatham, Kent, boasts the UK’s largest collection of historic lifeboats, which together have saved hundreds of lives off the coasts of the UK and RoI. Discover their stories, and those of their fearless crews.

From an 1897 pulling and sailing lifeboat, to the familiar Arun class and Blue Peter inflatable inshore lifeboats, visitors can explore how lifeboats have evolved over the past century. Interactive displays, archive film and audio clips bring to life the moment of a launch, coping with violent seas and how technology has helped create ever safer and faster craft.

How to find us

The RNLI Historic Lifeboat Collection
The Historic Dockyard
Chatham
Kent
ME4 4TZ

Telephone: 01634 823800

Opening times

Mid–February–31 ​October:

Open every day
10am–6pm
(or dusk if earlier)

November:​

Weekends only
10am–4pm

​December and January:

​Closed

  

Admission

Charges apply (concession, child and family tickets available).

Children under 16 must be accompanied by an adult.​

*Visitors can board these craft

  • St Cybl lifeboat St Cybl: a 52ft (15.8m) Barnett class, famed for her 1966 double gold medal service. 

                      A 52ft (15.8m) Barnett class, famed for her 1966 double gold medal service.
  • Will and Fanny Kirby lifeboat Will and Fanny Kirby: sectioned Oakley, showing the complex self-righting system and engine                        Sectioned Oakley, showing the complex self-righting system and engine.
  • Lizzie Porter lifeboat Lizzie Porter: a classic pulling and sailing lifeboat from 1909, twice awarded the RNLI Silver Medal and saviour of 77 lives. 

             A classic pulling and sailing lifeboat from 1909, twice awarded the RNLI Silver Medal and saviour of 77 lives
  • James Leath lifeboat* James Leath a pulling and sailing lifeboat. 

      A pulling and sailing lifeboat
  • Susan Ashley lifeboat Susan Ashley: a Watson motor cabin boat, built in 1948 for slipway and open beach launching. 

A Watson motor cabin boat, built in 1948 for slipway and open beach launching.
  • Helen Blake lifeboat Helen Blake lifeboat, a unique lifeboat design from 1938, designed to be used in confined waters                         A unique lifeboat design from 1938, designed to be used in confined waters.