All around the British coastline in harbours and on beaches can be seen the distinctive orange and dark blue boats of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI). The volunteers who man this Institution put their lives on the line to save others and this museum celebrates their bravery.
The old lifeboat station was built in 1882 and served the community until 1974, and it is the ideal place to house the museum.
The centrepiece of the displays is the Thomas Kirk Wright which was Poole’s first motorised lifeboat acquired in 1938. She is the only remaining surf class lifeboat in the world, which means she was ideal for the shallow waters of Poole Harbour.
In 1940 the Thomas Kirk Wright joined the armada of Little Ships shuttling back and forth across the English Channel ferrying stranded troops back from the beaches of Dunkirk. She was one of 19 lifeboats used in the evacuation.
Poole Lifeboat crews have received many awards and citations for bravery and these are on display in the museum as well as other memorabilia. Often several members of one family will be volunteers and current RNLI crews remember their parents launching from this old building.
Jonathan Clark, Coxswain, states: “…crews launched without the modern electronics, navigation aids, self-righting capabilities and equipment that we have today. It was a good deal harder to man the lifeboat in those days and the crews of the past should never be forgotten.”