Museum of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution

Housed in the 1898 RNLI William Terris Memorial Boathouse, King Edwards Parade, at the western end of Eastbourne Seafront.

The boathouse was built from public donations collected by the Daily Telegraph, to commemorate the life of the well known actor, William Terriss, who was assassinated outside the Adelphi Theatre in 1897.

The museum, completely refurbished in November 2011, houses collections and displays showing the history of the Eastbourne lifeboats since 1822, when the first lifeboat came on the scene at Eastbourne.
It was given by the well known local eccentric John “Mad Jack” Fuller.
The lifeboat variously known as “Samaritan” or “The Rose” served until 1863.
Various lifeboats served in this boathouse until 1924, when the retiring lifeboat “James Stevens N06″ was placed within as an exhibition piece.
In 1936 it was sold to a local fishing family and became a beach pleasure boat.
In 1937 the boathouse became the first RNLI museum in the country. After the war a souvenir shop was incorporated which has now become one of the top performing outlets selling gifts and souvenirs in support of the RNLI.
Whilst in the museum read about “The “New Brunswick” service in 1833 when due to storms, the lifeboat had to be towed by relays of horses to Birling Gap, some 8 miles away, before it could be launched.
The” Jane Holland” at Dunkirk. The rescue of the lighthouse keeper in 1966.
The Medal service to “Paperchase” in 2002 and many other services right through to today.

Venue Type:


Opening hours

January – February 10am until 3pm seven days a week.
March 10am until 4pm seven days a week.
April – October 10am until 5pm seven days a week.
October – December 10am until 4pm seven days a week.

Admission charges


Collection details

Social History, Maritime

Museum of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution
King Edward Parade
East Sussex
BN21 4BY



01323 730717

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