Designed for life
Commemorate lifesavers
with our RNLI History range
Commemorate brave lifeboat volunteers who have gone before us with our RNLI History range.

About cork lifejackets

The RNLI has always been innovating and finding new ways to help protect our lifeboat volunteers out at sea. Like in 1854, when RNLI Inspector Captain Ward made a new cork lifejacket design especially for RNLI lifeboat volunteers. It was the first lifejacket to be issued to our crew members.

At the time, RNLI volunteers had to row lifeboats out to sea. Their lifejackets needed to be flexible enough to move. A range of materials was tested, including air, horsehair and baobab wood. Cork was eventually chosen. Although the cork lifejackets were bulky, they were buoyant, hard-wearing and liked by the lifeboat crews.

How far we’ve come

Over our 200 years of lifesaving service, the RNLI has come a long way. Each year, we understand more about why people get into danger in the water. We develop new ways of keeping them, and our lifeboat volunteers, safe.
While so much has changed, one thing hasn’t – it is all only possible thanks to kindness. By kindly purchasing an RNLI 200 souvenir, you’ll help us continue to save lives at sea. And, you’ll have your own special piece of RNLI history.