Stories behind the lifeboats

Discover lifeboat stories from the Calm Before the Storm exhibition

Find out more about some of the lifeboats featured in the Calm Before the Storm exhibition, and what they went on to do after they were built on the Isle of Wight.  Each photograph marks the beginning of a story and these lifeboats went on to service lifeboat stations all around the UK and Ireland. 

The lifeboats featured here have fascinating and important histories: from participation in the evacuation of Dunkirk to rescues that earned their crews RNLI gallantry medals, and from a lifeboat sadly lost to some that have been preserved.  

Read how lifeboat design has changed over the decades and discover remarkable records of lifesaving across the generations.

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Black and white image of Helen Blake lifeboat on service
Helen Blake, Poolbeg
Helen Blake was built by Groves and Guttridge in 1938, provided from a legacy of Mrs Helen Blake of Sussex. She is a unique example of a Harbour class lifeboat, designed to work within confined waters – however, further production of the Harbour class was halted at the start of the Second World War. 
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Black and white image of H.F bailey lifeboat on service
H.F Bailey, Cromer
H.F Bailey – a 13m Watson class motor lifeboat – was built by JS White and Co in 1924.  She was provided from a legacy of Henry Francis Bailey of Brockenhurst, Hampshire. H.F Bailey was the second lifeboat with this name at Cromer and, like her predecessor, her coxswain was Henry Blogg – the most decorated lifeboatman in RNLI history.
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Black and white image of the Duchess of Kent  lifeboat on service
The Duchess of Kent, Fraserburgh
The Duchess of Kent was a Watson class lifeboat built by Groves and Guttridge in 1954, and stationed at Fraserburgh. 
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Greater London boat
Greater London (Civil Service No. 3), Southend-on-Sea
Greater London (Civil Service No. 3) was built in 1928 by JS White and Co. She was a Ramsgate class lifeboat – a special design by the RNLI for the three stations providing cover along the Thames Estuary.
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Langham boat
Langham, Bembridge
Langham arrived at Bembridge in 1922, with her naming ceremony taking place that October. A self-righting Watson class lifeboat, she was built by JS White and Co and funded by the legacy of TG Langham of London.
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