Northumberland village celebrates the official reopening of the museum dedicated to the first lady of lifeboating
Photo caption: The viewing window from the museum to St Aiden’s Church and graveyard where Grace Darling is buried. Credit: Jon Stokes.
The UK’s only museum dedicated to the iconic British lifesaving heroine, Grace Darling, will be officially reopened by the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) on 4 March, thanks to a Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) grant of nearly £1million.
The new museum illustrates Grace’s upbringing, her life at Longstone lighthouse, the events of the dramatic SSForfarshirerescue and her subsequent fame.
Grace Darling became a national heroine in 1838, after she and her father rescued nine survivors after the wreck of the SSForfarshire
TheForfarshirewas an early paddle steamer carrying passengers between Hull and Dundee. After leaving Hull on 5 September 1838, with 63 passengers and crew on board, the weather deteriorated forcing the crew to seek shelter towards the inner sound of the Farne Islands. TheForfarshirestruck a rock and split in two, early on 7 September, half a mile west of Longstone lighthouse off the Northumberland coast.
The lighthouse keeper’s daughter Grace Darling saw the disaster and with her father William rowed out to sea in a 21ft open boat, or coble. They rescued nine survivors clinging onto Big Harcar rock. Grace held the coble steady in the raging seas while William helped the passengers.
After a service at St Aiden’s Church, where Grace Darling is buried, RNLI Chairman Sir Jock Slater will declare the museum officially open during a ribbon-cutting ceremony.
Maureen La Frenais, RNLI Grace Darling Museum Project Manager explained:
‘The unique collection relating to Grace and her family has required an extensive programme of conservation work and cleaning. We’re all extremely proud of this exciting RNLI flagship museum, and our volunteers are keen to extend a warm welcome to visitors.’
For more details on the RNLI’s heritage programme, Grace Darling and the museum, go to www.rnli.org.uk/heritage