The Sir James Knott Lifeboat Museum

The Sir James Knott Lifeboat is kindly managed by volunteers.

Opening Times

The Sir James Knott Lifeboat Museum is not open to the public during the winter. The museum will re-open in the summer months each Thursday from 1pm-4pm.

Technical Details

  • Length 37 feet (11.3m); Beam 11 feet 6 inches (3.5m).
  • Two Parson Porbeagle diesel engines of 52 bhp each gave a full speed of 8.24 knots.
  • Crew 7. Survivor capacity in fine weather 65; in rough weather 35.
  • The hull is of two layers of Honduras Mahogany planks set at 90 degrees to each other to give great strength.
  • Keel, stem and stern posts and main timbers are of English oak and the stringers that from the framework of the hull are Canadian rock elm.
  • The Deck house is of aluminium.
  • The class of lifeboat was named after the designer Richard A. Oakley, a man who devoted his working life to the lifeboat service. He joined the RNLI as Assistant Surveyor of Lifeboats in 1940. As well as the 37 feet long self-righter, for which he is perhaps best known, he also designed a larger class of self-righter, a 70 feet long (21.3m) cruising lifeboat and several boarding boats, used where lifeboats lie afloat.
  • Richard Oakley retired from the RNLI in 1966. When he died in 1987 all of his 37 feet class were still in service, including the first which was thirty years old.
The History of Sir James Knott.

The lifeboat was built for the Cullercoats, Northumberland lifeboat station in 1963 and served there until 1969 when the RNLI decided that an inshore lifeboat was sufficient to cover the needs of the station. During that period the Sir James Knott was launched on service fifteen times and saved fourteen lives.

A transfer to the reserve fleet, which included a period of duty at Anstruther, brought a further five launches and four lives saved.

In 1972 the "Sir James Knott" was allocated to the Redcar, North Yorkshire lifeboat station and arrived there on the 28th November. Over the next thirteen years, sixty three lives were saved in seventy eight launches.

On the 13th July 1985 the "Sir James Knott" was taken to an Amble boatyard for a major overhaul and to have a wheel house fitted. Whilst she was away, the RNLI decided that Redcar would become an inshore lifeboat station only.

Once again the "Sir James Knott" took up relief duties, serving at Scarborough, Anstruther and Newcastle, Co. Down, whilst the regular lifeboats were away for overhaul. A further twenty four calls for assistance were answered during this period.

When relief duty at Newcastle ended in May 1989, the "Sir James Knott" was sailed to a North Wales boatyard to be stored whilst a decision was taken on her future,

In 1986 the RNLI had begun a building programme of fast, carriage-launched lifeboats to replace the fleet of ageing Oakleys. By the end of 1989 four of the new class, designated the Mersey, had been built and eight more were under construction. The "Sir James Knott" was no longer needed. In twenty six years she had been called out one hundred and twenty two times and saved eighty one lives. Fortunately the rescuer was rescued from being broken up by the Museum Service of Langbaurgh-on-Tees Borough Council (now Redcar & Cleveland Borough Council).

Necessary repairs and painting were needed, as was a weather-proof shelter where the lifeboat could be put on display to the public. The work was delayed however, due to a lack of finance caused by the recession and savage cut-backs in local government spending.

It was not until 1995 that the funding became available thanks to the North of England Museums Service, the Museums & Galleries Commissions PRISM fund and a generous donation from the "Sir James Knott" Trust.

Valuable practical assistance was given by teams from Grangetown Social Services Centre for adults with a learning disability, who paved the floor of the temporary shelter and constructed a wooded viewing platform.

Thanks to this support both financial and practical, it has been possible for the lifeboat to go on show to the public.

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