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Making Waves: National exhibition celebrates 200 years of the RNLI

22 Jun 2024 4 minute read
Making Waves – Celebrating 200 years of the RNLI

Two exciting new exhibitions will open this month to mark an incredible milestone in the history of the RNLI.

Making Waves will open at National Waterfront Museum on 22 June and Courage and Community will open at Oriel y Parc, National Park Discovery Centre in St Davids on 29 June.

To celebrate the Royal National Lifeboat Institution’s 200 years of saving lives at sea, the exhibitions focus on the lifesaving work of the charity’s volunteers around the Welsh coastline.

From shipping disasters to stranded holidaymakers, the types of rescues have significantly changed since 1824, and with that so has the equipment needed to carry them out.

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The exhibition at National Waterfront Museum will feature a Rigid-hulled inflatable Lifeboat (RIB) built from the prototype mould of the original RIB developed at Atlantic College, alongside a D class lifeboat , while an Arancia will be on display at Oriel y Parc.

In both exhibitions, visitors will be able to get on board, try on some RNLI equipment and have a taste of what it feels like to be on a lifeboat.

Dr Kath Davies, Director of Collections & Research at Amgueddfa Cymru – Museum Wales said: “We’re excited for this new exhibition to open at National Waterfront Museum.

“Collaborating with our partners at the RNLI and Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority has enabled us to share objects and stories from communities across Wales and celebrate this historic milestone.

“These exhibitions will offer visitors the opportunity to get hands on with objects from the national collection and discover more about the incredible contribution of volunteers and innovators to the lifesaving work of the RNLI.”

Crew onboard the Llandudno Shannon class lifeboat William F Yates 13-18 during a man overboard (MOB) training exercise at sea. Crew member Phil Howell reaching down towards the camera, shot from waterline.

The RNLI’s volunteer lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved an incredible 13,195 lives during two centuries of lifesaving in Wales, more than one life saved every week in its 200-year history.


Josh Stewart, Coxswain at The Mumbles RNLI said: “We have been busy celebrating 200 years of the RNLI, and National Waterfront Museum has given us a great opportunity for the crew to share their experiences and preserve some of their stories for future generations.

“We are looking forward to visiting the exhibition, and hope it inspires the next generation of lifesavers in Wales.”

Amgueddfa Cymru is proud to continue its partnership with Oriel y Parc, who will host the Courage and Community exhibition. Inspired by local stories of ordinary people doing extraordinary things, it features tales of valour from all six lifeboat stations around the Pembrokeshire Coast and opens on 29 June.

Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority Chief Executive, Tegryn Jones, said: “We are thrilled to be hosting the Courage and Community exhibition at Oriel y Parc in such an historic anniversary year for the RNLI.

“This unique collaboration between the Authority, Amgueddfa Cymru and the RNLI highlights the strong tradition of lifesaving in Pembrokeshire and celebrates the volunteers and communities along our iconic coastline, who come together to save lives at sea.

“We are hopeful that the exhibition at Oriel y Parc, along with the Making Waves exhibition at the National Waterfront Museum in Swansea, will give an insight into the invaluable work and efforts made by RNLI volunteers across the country to keep everyone safe at sea, as well as highlighting the importance of wider water safety.”

“Fascinating display”

Denys Bassett-Jones, volunteer crew member at Little and Broad Haven RNLI said: “It was a great pleasure to work with the team at Oriel y Parc organising artefacts, pictures and stories for the upcoming RNLI200 exhibition.

“This promises to be a fascinating display to celebrate the bicentenary of the RNLI, and the crew of Little and Broad Haven Lifeboat are proud to be part of it.

“We hope the interactive exhibition gets people interested in the work the RNLI does and inspires a new generation of supporters and volunteers.”

Amgueddfa Cymru’s work on the Making Waves exhibition has been made possible thanks to players of People’s Postcode Lottery.

Both exhibitions are free of charge and will run until 16 March, 2025 at the Waterfront Museum and 1 June, 2025 at Oriel y Parc.

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