Welcome to the home of the William Riley

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Welcome to the official homepage of the William Riley Lifeboat. Here you will find out more about its history, re-discovery and subsequent renovation. The boat now regularly tours the country participating in multiple events. Why not come along to one and see us in action? Please visit our latest news and events to find out where we’ll be.

The former lifeboat was built by the Thames Iron Works at Canning Town in London in 1909 from funds left by William Riley of Coventry. The lifeboat entered service with the RNLI on the 11th June 1909 and arrived at the Upgang station near Whitby on the 27th July.


Whitby Station, Riley on the left

The Upgang station closed on the 13th November 1919 and the lifeboat transferred to Whitby station where it stayed until 27th May 1931 when she was effectively decommissioned. After being decommissioned she was sold in November 1931 and converted into a private motor cruiser and spent the 1960s and 1970s at Redstone Wharf on the River Severn near Stourport.

The boat was discovered for sale on ebay in an almost scrap condition by Mr Dave Charlton. She was subsequently bought and donated to the Whitby Historic Lifeboat Trust by Dave. View our pages for all events leading up to present day, and troll through the history of this wonderful old vessel from what was once almost a total wreck to her present day glory.


Naming Ceremony