THE RNLI will celebrate 200 years of lifesaving in 2024.

The RNLI (Royal National Lifeboat Institution) was set up in 1824, which means that in the new year (2024) the charity will celebrate and commemorate two centuries of saving lives at sea.

Since the charity launched its first lifeboat in 1824, the RNLI has saved more than 144,000 lives at sea and celebrated various milestones. Thirty years after the charity’s inspection – in 1854 – RNLI inspector Captain Ward launched his ground-breaking design of a cork lifejacket.

The first steam-driven boat was introduced to RNLI in 1890 – the three hydraulic steam-driven lifeboats used by RNLI saved 570 lives over more than 40 years. The first motor lifeboat was introduced in 1905, with the first fast motor lifeboat arriving at Dover Lifeboat Station in 1930.

Inflatable lifeboats were introduced in 1963 and remain a big help in reaching areas close to shore, cliffs, and caves. The B class Atlantic 21 – the RNLI’s first rigid inflatable lifeboat – was produced nine years later in 1972.

More locally, Penarth Lifeboat Station was established in 1861, which is 37 years after the inception of the RNLI nationally.

Penarth Times: RNLI Penarth crew return from a Sully Island rescue

For 20 years this operated from a building located where Penarth Yacht Club is now. When Lord Windsor built the Esplanade, the lifeboat was “temporarily” moved to the beach at the entrance to Penarth Dock.  This operated as a Penarth and Cardiff branch until November 18, 1905, when it was closed to be amalgamated with Barry Dock.

In 1980 the lifeboat was re-established at Penarth and by 1995 a new boathouse with an adjacent slipway has been constructed. This is the Penarth Lifeboat Station that remains today (2023) and operates two inshore lifeboats: a B class Atlantic 85 and a D class.

Now, in 2024 Penarth RNLI – along with more than 230 branches across the UK and Ireland – will commemorate two centuries since the RNLI was formed in 1824.

Penarth Times: RNLI Penarth volunteers rescue on the River Taff

Penarth RNLI is on the hunt for stories, photos, or images connected to the institution in Cardiff and Penarth between 1861 and 1905. Perhaps a relative was part of the crew or volunteered to help?

People can send their information or photos to RNLI Penarth by e-mailing