The first ever modern RNLI lifeboat to be displayed in a museum

On Saturday morning (17 June), our retired City of Sheffield lifeboat arrived at the National Emergency Services Museum in Sheffield where she will be displayed for the next five years.

Although she is no longer at sea, the lifeboat will continue to serve the RNLI by sharing its history, as an exhibition will be built around the lifeboat to share stories of the boat’s remarkable service history. The City of Sheffield will be open for guided onboard tours from 23 July, and throughout the school summer holidays.

The museum will also be working with some of our Sheffield volunteers and the South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue team to encourage people to consider the dangers at the coast and teach visitors vital water safety advice.

Heritage Manager, David Welton, has spoken about this opportunity to have the City of Sheffield at an inland location:

‘This is an exciting move for the RNLI as the loan will not only teach people about the City of Sheffield’s wonderful past, but also how to stay safe by the water – all the more important in our inland cities, where communities are not always as familiar with the dangers they may find at the coast.

‘Lifeboats make the work of the RNLI possible, so we also hope that the chance to explore one will inspire some future lifeboat crew, who will continue the organisation’s legacy of saving lives at sea.'

Speaking about the lifeboat arriving in Sheffield, the CEO of the National Emergency Services Museum, Matt Wakefield, said:

‘The Emergency Services Museum has a proud history of caring for historic emergency vehicles and we are delighted to be receiving a modern RNLI lifeboat to display – especially one with such a connection to the city. We’re looking forward to inviting the public to the exhibition and running sessions on the lifeboat’s remarkable stories and the inspiring people who served on her.’

The history of the City of Sheffield

Funds for the lifeboat were raised during the 1987-1988 Sheffield Lifeboat Appeal – which raised £420,000 in 18 months – as well as from a significant bequest from Mrs Mary Mable Walker. So it seems fitting that the lifeboat will now return to the city which funded it.

Since Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Kent named the lifeboat City of Sheffield on 28 July 1989 at Whitby Lifeboat Station, the lifeboat has also served at Ramsgate, Hartlepool and Sennen Cove before finding her permanent home in Poole in 2001.

The Tyne class lifeboat remained at Poole Lifeboat Station until 2016, when she was withdrawn from service and replaced by a new D class lifeboat. Since arriving at the station in 2001, the City of Sheffield launched 557 times and has been used to rescue 650 people.

Volunteer Coxswain at Poole Lifeboat Station, Jonathon Clark, said:

‘The City of Sheffield was a faithful servant during her 15 years on service here at Poole lifeboat station; we are one of the busiest coastal stations so she was kept active. I was very proud to be the Coxswain at her wheel.

‘We have a good few memories, memorable ‘shouts’ and the camaraderie part that the boat played within the crews and community life that revolves around a lifeboat station. It was a very sad day when she left us and she will always be a part of our heritage. However, I am very pleased that she will be returning home to South Yorkshire and look forward to visiting her there.’