As the RNLI prepares to celebrate its 200th anniversary on March 4, the charity has brought some of its rich history to life with the release of a stunning collection of colourised images including a 1960s one of crew from St Davids.  

One of the images included in the colourised collection is from St Davids Lifeboat Station in West Wales. The station is situated at St Justinian’s nearby to St Davids, the smallest city in the United Kingdom. The lifeboat station was established in 1869 at the request of the local community.   

Not often obvious in the old black and white photographs, lifeboat crews would traditionally wear red hats. In the picture from St Davids, the colour brings the vibrant red out as the crew walk up from the boathouse with the Welsh coastline in the background.  

Colourised photo of 1960s St Davids RNLI crew
Not often obvious in the old black and white photographs, lifeboat crews would traditionally wear red hats. (Pic RNLI)

The crew in the 1960s image are also wearing traditional Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) Guernseys - sometimes called Ganseys - woollen jumpers with a simple red ‘RNLI’ embroidered on the front – something today’s lifeboat crews still wear for ceremonial duties.  

From community events to candid snapshots, the full collection of 11 black and white images have been painstakingly cleaned and colourised with folds, scratches and dust removed using digital technology to shine new light on 200 years of saving lives at sea. 

The striking images from across the UK and Ireland include courageous lifeboat crews, early fundraising street collections, and iconic scenes of close-knit communities coming together to launch and recover lifeboats.  

RNLI Heritage and Archive Research Manager Hayley Whiting said: “The carefully coloured images illustrate just a few highlights of the incredible history of lifesaving over the previous two centuries, where over 144,000 lives have been saved to date. 

“To see the crew of St Davids lifeboat walking up from the boathouse wearing their traditional red hats, the yellow sou’westers of the children fundraising or the vibrant blue sea off the Isle of Man, the reworked images really do bring a different perspective on some of our archived pictures.    

“Each image has been brought to life by our own in-house creative team with hours spent on attention to detail, along with research being undertaken to ensure each one gave a true, lifelike representation.”  

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