Poole has a long and colourful maritime history, which is in evidence as you walk along the Quay. There has been a lifeboat based at Poole for over 150 years, with the current and former lifeboat stations located at either ends of the Quay. On the eastern end sits Poole Old Lifeboat Museum. The building, which was the Lifeboat Station between 1882 and 1974, is now a museum charting the history of Poole’s lifeboats and their crews.
The museum is open daily between 10.30 am and 4 pm and is free to enter, although obviously donations are welcome. Or why not purchase something from the well stocked nautical themed gift shop?
A walk round the former Lifeboat Station will tell you all about the history of the RNLI (Royal National Lifeboat Institution – a charity which keeps British waterways safe) in general and in Poole specifically. You can learn about the lifeboats stationed there over the years and the bravery of their crews. You can even try on old and current lifeboat crew kits. I can’t resist a bit of hands-on learning!
Thomas Kirk Wright
Most of the museum is taken up with retired lifeboat the Thomas Kirk Wright, which was operational from 1939 to 1962. In addition to its regular duties, the Thomas Kirk Wright was among the 850 ‘little ships’ which sailed to Dunkirk in 1940 to rescue Allied troops stranded on the beaches there. As the records on display show, it made a total of three rescue missions to France before finally being hit and having to be towed back to England.
The museum is quite small, so a visit won’t take more than an hour or so, but it is interesting to delve into the maritime history of the town and maybe say a little thank you to those brave men and women who risk their lives to keep others safe at sea. And, of course, those brave men who risked theirs lives even more so to rescue others during World War II.