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RNLI Exhibition at Chatham Historic Dockyard

March 23 @ 10:00 am - September 1 @ 5:00 pm

Experience the exhilarating story of the RNLI as the lifesaving charity celebrates its 200th anniversary in our brand-new exhibition for 2024.

In partnership with the Royal National Lifeboat Institution, this must-visit exhibition allows you to discover the heroic tales of the men and women who have risked their lives to save others, in times of calm and amidst the most treacherous storms.

Only available for a limited time from 23 March to 1 September 2024, this extraordinary showcase is included in your entry ticket to The Historic Dockyard Chatham, making it a truly unmissable experience for visitors of all ages.

A world-leading search and rescue organisation, the RNLI’s lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved over 144,000 lives since its founding in 1824. From triumphs to tragedies; from oar-powered vessels to the boats packed with cutting-edge technology used today; from introducing the first lifeboats on the River Thames to rolling-out a UK beach lifeguard service; from running the UK and Ireland’s biggest ever drowning prevention campaigns to working with others to save lives overseas – the RNLI has a remarkable 200-year story to tell.

The exhibition will feature a limited-edition print of Tracey Emin’s painting of a lifeboat preparing to launch, inspired by her childhood memories of Margate, painted in 2014 to support cross channel swimmer James Stephenson who was raising money for the RNLI.

You will be able to see some familiar names amongst the supporters of the RNLI over the years, including several Blue Peter presenters, and Spike Milligan, who in characteristically humorous style donated funds, specifying that it was to pay for a pair of boots.

Tragically over the two centuries, more than 600 crew members have lost their lives trying to save others at sea.  The exhibition will honour those whose lives have been lost and will show a digital version of The Lifeboat Service Memorial book, listing the names of all those who have given their life in the service of the RNLI.

The exhibition aims to show how the RNLI has changed over the years and will shine a light on the extraordinary engineering and innovation in lifesaving technology over the past two centuries, from the oar-powered boats and cork lifejackets of the past, to the modern boats and protective kit the crews use today.

Already home to the RNLI’s Historic Lifeboat Collection, we are the perfect venue to showcase the thrilling story of the RNLI during its bi-centenary year.

The Dockyard’s opening hours are as follows:

10th February to 31 March 10 am to 4 pm (closed Monday and Tuesday from 19th February to 19th March 2024)

1st April to 27th October 10 am to 5 pm

28th October to 17th November  10 am to 4 pm (Closed Mondays and Tuesdays in November 2024)


March 23 @ 10:00 am
September 1 @ 5:00 pm


The Historic Dockyard Chatham


The Historic Dockyard
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