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Pictured: Historic London lifeboat station leaves its home for the last time

Lifeboats News Release

The RNLI’s Tower Lifeboat Station – the busiest lifeboat station in the country – has been floated away from its home on Victoria Embankment.

Floating lifeboat station passing under Tower Bridge

RNLI/Hallmark Broadcast

Tower RNLI passes under Tower Bridge

On Tuesday (January 24) the station was towed across London, passing under the iconic Tower Bridge watched by onlookers.

The crew are continuing their vital lifesaving service by operating out of nearby HMS PRESIDENT - the Royal Naval Reserve’s training facility in London - before a new station is floated into place in April.

The age and design of the station meant it had become unfit for purpose and will now be used by Thames Marine Services as one of six electrical charging facilities.

The floating station had been operational for 16 years – with parts of the pontoon dating back to the Victorian era when it was used by the Metropolitan Police.

Since 2002 the Tower lifeboat crew have launched 9,545 times, saving 355 people across 16 miles of the Thames - just last year (2022) the station had 750 call outs.

Tower Lifeboat Station Manager Kevin Maynard said: ‘We are looking forward to our new facilities to help us provide the service the people of London deserve to keep them as safe as possible.

‘In the meantime, I’d like to reassure people that we are continuing to run our lifesaving service as normal along the Thames – and remember if they get into trouble to ring 999 and ask for the Coastguard.”

The impressive history of the station began following the tragedy of the pleasure boat Marchioness in 1989 in which 51 people lost their lives after a collision with a dredger. An inquiry following the tragedy recommended the need for a dedicated rescue service on the Thames.

Thanks to generous donations – including £3.5million from the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve Officer’s Association following the sale of the Naval Club in Mayfair – Tower RNLI's new station is nearing completion, ready to meet the challenges of keeping London safe for generations to come.

Over the last 20 years Tower RNLI has carried out some incredible rescues including:

Lifeboat station floats down the Thames

RNLI/Hallmark Broadcast

Tower lifeboat station floats down the Thames
Tower lifeboat station towed pass landmarks

RNLI/Hallmark Broadcast

Tower lifeboat station towed pass landmarks
Tower lifeboat station begins its journey

RNLI/Hallmark Broadcast

Tower lifeboat station begins its journey

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.

Learn more about the RNLI

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.