Lifesaver retires to Sheffield - its namesake city

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A lifeboat that saved hundreds of lives while carrying Sheffield’s name across the seas has retired to the city that made the vessel possible.

The City of Sheffield lifeboat is set to be the newest exhibit at the National Emergency Services Museum on West Bar, under a partnership with the RNLI.

Visitors will be able to step aboard the craft, which is still in complete working order and will be unveiled by dignitaries - including the Lord Mayor - at the museum next month.

Guided tours are being organised from July 23, and throughout the school summer holidays.

The lifeboat was originally paid for by the people of Sheffield through a major fundraising appeal in the late 1980s. A bequest from a Mrs Mary Mable Walker provided a significant boost.

Matt Wakefield, the museum’s CEO, said the place had a ‘proud history of caring for historic emergency vehicles’.

“We are delighted to be receiving a modern RNLI lifeboat to display – especially one with such a connection to the city. We’re looking forward to inviting the public to the exhibition and running sessions on the lifeboat’s remarkable stories and the inspiring people who served on her.”

Jonathan Clark, an RNLI volunteer in Poole, Dorset, where the boat was most recently based, said: “The City of Sheffield was a faithful servant during her 15 years on service here at Poole lifeboat station.

“We are one of the busiest coastal stations so she was kept active.

“I was very proud to be the coxswain at her wheel.

“Since September 2001 when she arrived on service, she launched 557 times, and the number of people rescued, including lives saved, was 650.

“It was a very sad day when she left us and she will always be a part of our heritage,” he said. “However, I am very pleased that she will be returning home to South Yorkshire and look forward to visiting her there’.”

In 2004 Jonathan escorted the Queen, the RNLI’s patron, on the boat during a Royal visit.

Lifeboat’s Story

Weighing in at 26 tons, the City of Sheffield lifeboat rescued 650 people in a 15-year career that started in 1989.

Sheffield residents raised £435,000 towards the vessel’s £560,000 costs in the late 1980s.

At 47 feet long, the boat was designed to sail straight through towering waves and could reach a maximum speed of 17.6 knots.

The Duchess of Kent named the lifeboat on July 28, 1989, in a ceremony at Whitby Lifeboat Station.

The craft also served at Rams-gate, Hartlepool and Sennen Cove, West Cornwall, before finding a permanent home with the RNLI at Poole in 2001.

The Tyne Class Lifeboat remained at Poole Lifeboat Station until 2016.

It was then withdrawn from day-to-day service and replaced by a new D class lifeboat.