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Saving Lives on the Thames!!


The Royal National Lifeboat Institution celebrates it's 200th anniversary this year! Sir William Hillary’s vision for a service dedicated to saving lives at sea became a reality in the London Tavern on Bishopsgate on 4 March 1824. Later that year Charles Fremantle was awarded the first RNLI Gold Medal for bravery and Grace Darling became a national heroine after risking her life to save the survivors of the wrecked steamship Forfarshire in 1838.

The decision for a permanent lifeboat service on the Thames followed the tragedy of the Marchioness disaster in August 1989 when the party boat Marchioness and the dredger Bowbelle collided, resulting in the loss of 51 lives. RNLI lifeboats have been operating on the River Thames since 2 January 2002 from the lifeboat stations at Chiswick, Gravesend, Teddington and Tower (next to Somerset House). Tower, Chiswick and Gravesend crews are always on duty, 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year. If there’s an emergency on the river, they have to launch within 90 seconds of the Coastguard’s request. The Tower lifeboat crew are the busiest in the UK and Ireland with the highest number of launches each year, closely followed by Chiswick..

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