Museum to give Grace Darling story Virtual Reality treatment

Lifeboats News Release

Saturday (7 September) marks the anniversary of Grace Darling’s historic rescue of nine stranded survivors on board the shipwrecked steamship, Forfarshire, which crashed into Big Harcar Rock off the coast of Northumberland in 1838.

RNLI/Jim Rice

Artist Sophie Dixon on her visit to the Grace Darling Museum

Now, the Grace Darling Museum in Bamburgh is working with artist Sophie Dixon on a new virtual reality experience that will open in time for next year's anniversary in September 2020.

The RNLI Grace Darling Museum commemorates the life of Victorian Britain’s greatest heroine, who risked her life to rescue nine survivors from the wrecked SS Forfarshire on 7 September 1838. Her extraordinary act of bravery became internationally known, making front page news and even reaching Queen Victoria. She received several awards, including a Gold Medal of Bravery from the Royal Humane Society and a Silver Medal for Gallantry from the RNLI.

Sophie’s artwork will explore Grace Darling's life and shine a new perspective on her story. It forms part of Meeting Point, a year-long project led by contemporary arts agency Arts & Heritage ( that partners leading UK and international artists with six museums in Yorkshire, the North West and the North East to produce new artworks inspired by the museums and their collections.

Speaking on a research trip to Northumberland, Sophie said: 'A lot of my work is about historical subject matter, and I'm very interested in historical stories and particularly the individual stories within those grand narratives. The Grace Darling story is so fascinating and inspirational. I'm very excited and privileged to be working on this project.'

Marleen Vincentin, RNLI Heritage Development Manager, said: 'We're hoping that the project will appeal to a new, younger audience and also shine a new light on the story for existing audiences. Because it will use Virtual Reality, we hope to take the project outside of the museum to community groups, care homes, schools and festivals, and bring the story of Grace Darling and the RNLI to a really wide audience which otherwise might not be aware of it.'


The famous depiction of Grace Darling's rescue by Thomas Brooks

Key facts about the RNLI

The RNLI charity saves lives at sea. Its volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service around the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland coasts. The RNLI operates 238 lifeboat stations in the UK and Ireland and more than 240 lifeguard units on beaches around the UK and Channel Islands. The RNLI is independent of Coastguard and government and depends on voluntary donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824, its lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved over 142,700 lives.

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