Postcard of the month - #124 - September 2010

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RNLI Storeyard, Poplar

The storeyard of the Royal National Lifeboat Institute for the Preservation of Life from Shipwrecks(RNLI) was at 27 Broomfield Street, Poplar.  Standing beside the Limehouse Cut, the storeyard was used by the Institute between 1878 and 1938.

The yard was needed to store and repair the RNLI’s reserve Lifeboat fleet.  Previously, the reserve fleet was kept at ports around the country.  The move to Poplar was taken in 1878 to bring all their facilities together.   The Poplar site was chosen because it could   be reached from the sea, either by rowing or by sail, via the Limehouse Cut and  Limehouse Lock or the River Lea.  Lifeboats could, then, be pulled out of the Limehouse Cut by hand-powered cranes.  The Thames, at the time, was a major shipbuilding area and any skilled labour needed could easily be found.  By the 1920s the storeyard could service in-house the whole RNLI fleet.

As today the RNLI needed to raise funds for the Lifeboat service.  It was in the early 1900s that a number of “flag days” were introduced to raise money for the Lifeboat Service.  A “Flag Day “ department at the Bloomfield site, stored collection boxes and small paper flags.  The postcard shows the lifeboat men, standing in front of the Lifeboat in its cradle, at Bloomfield street. They are getting ready to form part of the Lord Mayor’s Day Procession, where, the public, for a donation could obtain a small paper picture of a lifeboat with a pin.

In 1938, the RNLI vacated the Broomfield site and moved to Borehamwood in Hertfordshire and later moved to its present day headquarters at Poole Harbour in Dorset.

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