World's oldest surviving lifeboat leaves Redcar for conservation work

Lifeboats News Release

The Zetland, the world’s oldest surviving lifeboat, has left its home town of Redcar, North Yorkshire, for only the third time since she arrived in 1802.

The Zetland, housed in the Zetland museum

RNLI/Dave Cocks

The Zetland, housed in the Zetland museum

The craft, built by Henry Greathead, considered as the father of the lifeboat, is to undergo sensitive conservation work by local boat builder Tony Young in a storage shed donated by a local transportation company.

The Zetland served Redcar for many years even before the foundations of the RNLI were laid in 1824, and remained in service until 1864. It was credited with saving over 500 lives during that time.

At the end of its operational life, the Zetland was given to the people of Redcar, who banded together to raise £100 to have the lifeboat repaired in South Shields.

In 1907, the Zetland was moved to what was by then a disused lifeboat station overlooking the sea a few hundred metres from the town's current RNLI base. This became the Zetland Lifeboat Museum and was for many years supported by the RNLI before its running was handed back to the people of Redcar in 2015.

In 1963 the Zetland was taken from the museum and transported to Edinburgh where it was the centrepiece of the International Lifeboat Conference.

Dave Cocks, Lifeboat Operations Manager at Redcar RNLI, said: ‘Although we don’t have a formal link with the Zetland any more, we are all part of the same lifeboat family that goes back to 1802, and I’m pleased that the lifeboat is still being looked after.

‘Our present-day crew is based on a long heritage of lifesaving. Indeed current crew members have family connections that go back to the earliest crew who manned the Zetland.

‘We’re all looking forward to seeing Zetland back where it belongs, looking out to sea, with the spirits of the old crew members looking out for our newest.’


Notes to editors:

Redcar lifeboat station has been operating since 1802

Redcar currently operates a B-class lifeboat named Leicester Challenge III, paid for by the people of Leicester, and an IB1-class lifeboat named Eileen May Loach-Thomas, paid from the legacy of the late Mr Nick Thomas of Shropshire

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The Zetland, about to leave Redcar for conservation work

RNLI/Dave Cocks

The Zetland, about to leave Redcar for conservation work
The Zetland, now in a local warehouse for conservation work

RNLI/Nathan Hobday

The Zetland, now in a local warehouse for conservation work

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