PortCities London

Lifesaving on the Thames


The Pool of London, by W.L. Wyllie.
View full size imageThe busy Thames, 1890. © NMM

Like all major waterways that flow through cities, the tidal Thames has played a major part in the life of London. It has been the vehicle for and focal point of ceremony and celebration and sadly, it has also been the cause of death and injury.

Over the last 300 years, the Thames has played a significant part in the story of lifesaving at sea. Thousands of lifeboats were built by the many boatyards along its banks. Many inventors have also used the river as a test bed as well a 'shop window to the world' in bringing their ideas to fruition.

But it is only since 2002 that a dedicated rescue service, operated by the Royal National Lifeboat Institution, has been established on the river.

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