2004: RNLI College opens

RNLI College is the home of RNLI training and was opened by Her Majesty The Queen on 28 July 2004, when it was known as the Lifeboat College.
RNLI College on the day of it's official opening by Her Majesty the Queen

Photo: RNLI / Jon Jones

RNLI College on the day of its official opening by Her Majesty The Queen

RNLI College is the home of RNLI training and was opened by Her Majesty The Queen on 28 July 2004, when it was known as the Lifeboat College.

This distinctive building, with its wave-like roof and porthole windows, was first conceived as a training centre for lifeboat crews. Its aim - to become a centre of training excellence for our volunteers, an increasing number of whom were joining the RNLI without a maritime background.

Thousands of volunteer crew have since passed through its doors and into its classrooms, lifeboats, live engine workshops, bridge simulator and sea survival pool. And the building has evolved and grown into a central home for the RNLI community.

All under one roof

Capsize and self-right demonstration in the sea survival pool

Photo: RNLI / Nathan Williams

Capsize and self-right demonstration in the sea survival pool

Today, RNLI College is internationally recognised as a beacon of lifesaving training, not only for our but our lifeguards too.

It offers commercial maritime training, unique team building experiences and filming opportunities, all centred around the Sea Survival Centre.

Its stunning location overlooking Poole Harbour has seen the college become a popular venue for events, including weddings and conferences.

It’s a great place to stay. Guests get to rub shoulders with real-life RNLI lifeboat crew and lifeguards as they learn the ropes. And every room boasts harbour views.

College Discovery Tours are conducted by dedicated volunteer guides, allowing supporters to go behind the scenes of this state-of-the-art training facility.

And it’s the perfect place to relax and unwind with a drink or a bite to eat, even offering its very own Lifeboat Ale!

Every £1 spent at RNLI College helps save lives at sea. And in its first 10 years, training in-house, together with careful use of the college’s spare capacity, saved over £10M.

‘There’s an active, tangible quality to the RNLI’s work when you visit the college,’ says RNLI Business Manager Graham Ireland. ‘Not many hotel guests can buy a pint and donate to a charity at the same time …  or watch a crew member firefighting from the restaurant window.’