Whitby RNLI's 103 year old lifeboat to be pulled through the streets by crew

Lifeboats News Release

The operation to move 'Robert & Ellen Robson' takes place on Saturday September 25, and is the first stage in a major museum redevelopment.

RNLI/Ceri Oakes

Whitby lifeboat museum curator Neil Williamson with shop manager Barrie Lazenby outside the museum where 'Robert & Ellen Robson' is currently housed.
The historic rowing lifeboat, currently on display in the museum, is housed in the RNLI's only remaining pulling carriage and will be hand-pulled through Whitby by the current lifesaving volunteers to a temporary home at Coates Marine.

The lifeboat will be pulled by approximately 24 volunteers along Pier Road and then along New Quay Road and Langbourne Road. The public are welcome to come and view the lifeboat on display on the corner of Baxtergate/New Quay road between 11.00am and 3.30pm.

The Rubie class RNLI lifeboat 'Robert & Ellen Robson', built in 1918, served in Whitby from 1947-1955, her last service being a historic event for the RNLI as it was the last time a rowing lifeboat was ever used in operational service.

During her time on service at Whitby the historic lifeboat was mainly launched to escort fishing vessels into the harbour in bad weather, however one of the more unusual services she was involved in was on 5 October 1949 when she was used to rescue 17 geology students from Aberdeen University who were cut off on the infamous Black Nab.

Whitby's lifeboat museum, in the town's former lifeboat station building, is a flagship for the RNLI and visited by thousands every year. The museum will close (although the shop will remain open) from 20 September 2021 to allow work to commence to create an exciting new visitor experience within the museum, aiming to re-open early summer 2022.

Deputy Launch Authority for Whitby RNLI, and museum curator Neil Williamson said: 'This is an exciting project for the museum and its volunteers. The RNLI has a rich history of lifeboating in Whitby and the pulling of the old lifeboat will be quite a sight as the boat has not moved from its current home since 2002, pulling it by hand as it would have been in the past feels like a nod to those who volunteered before us.'

The stories of Whitby lifeboat and the gallantry of the crew will still be centre stage in the new museum design, while giving greater opportunity to showcase the unique models, artefacts and the amazing historic pulling lifeboat.

The redevelopment aims to bring the story of Whitby lifeboat and the wider lifesaving work of the RNLI to new audiences, making greater use of interactive, visual and emotive storytelling. This story will highlight how volunteers in all roles play a key part in the work of the RNLI.

Michael Charlton who is leading the project said: 'The redevelopment gives new opportunities to inform visitors about how to stay safe by promoting local key water safety messages in a fun and informative way.

As a charity, it is important that the museum highlights how the RNLI is funded and how the public can be more involved and support, be that either via a simple donation or by leaving a legacy. In deed the redevelopment is only possible as it is being funded by a generous gift left in a will specifically for the museum as per the wishes of the donor.'

Between 11.00am and 3.30pm, the lifeboat will be on show to the public on the junction of Baxtergate and New Quay Road, giving visitors the chance of a closer look at this unique item of RNLI history. Members of the current lifeboat crew will also be on hand to talk about the charity’s work and accept donations. As the project develops the museum is planning further opportunities to contribute locally towards creating this special piece of history for Whitby.

For more information contact Lifeboat Press Officer Ceri Oakes on 07813359428 or at [email protected]m

RNLI/Ceri Oakes

Map showing the route the historic lifeboat will be pulled along to reach its new temporary home at Coates Marine in Whitby.

RNLI/Ceri Oakes

Historic image of the 'Robert & Ellen Robson' lifeboat being pulled out in 1953

RNLI/Ceri Oakes

Whitby Lifeboat Museum curator Neil Williamson sat in the historic lifeboat which is currently housed in the museum but will b emoved to a temporary home for the museum's redevelopment.

RNLI/Ceri Oakes

Whitby Lifeboat museum curator in a modern day RNLI kit outside Whitby Museum and a photograph of Henry Freeman, the only survivor of the Whitby Lifeboat disaster of 9 February 1861 as he was wearing an early cork lifejacket.

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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For more information please visit the RNLI website or Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. News releases, videos and photos are available on the News Centre.

Contacting the RNLI - public enquiries

Members of the public may contact the RNLI on 0300 300 9990 (UK) or 1800 991802 (Ireland) or by email.