The captivating story of two lifeboats in the island will be the focus of a new exhibition.

Rushen Heritage Centre opened for the new season on Tuesday complete with a display on the history of Port Erin and Port St Mary lifeboats to mark 200 years of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI).

The latest exhibition revisits Rushen Heritage Trust’s first-ever display in 2014 and draws from the archives of the two stations.

As part of the project, Mick Kneale and Dr Rachel Crellin have delved into the archives to trace the history of the first Port Erin lifeboat, Ann and Mary, which arrived in the island in 1883 and the first Port St Mary vessel, James Stevens No2, which arrived in 1896.

Trust treasurer Ali Graham said: ‘This is such a momentous year for the RNLI, which began in the Isle of Man.

‘Port Erin and Port St Mary lifeboats have served the Rushen community with distinction over the years, saving so many lives, and with this being the Trust’s 10th birthday, we thought it was fitting to revisit our first exhibition to help us commemorate and celebrate the incredible service of everyone connected with both lifeboats over the years.’

The exhibition also features model lifeboats and ‘junior’ lifeboat uniforms that young children can dress up in. Run by volunteers, Rushen Heritage Centre features a series of exhibitions each season and acts as a visitor information centre in collaboration with Visit Isle of Man.

The RNLI exhibition will run until Saturday, April 20, when it will make way for another display, ‘Tourism in the South’, which will run until June 1.

Kathy Potter, Rushen Heritage Trust board member, said: ‘We have a wonderful series of exhibitions planned at the centre this year, with other topics including a display of wildlife-inspired artwork with Manx Wildlife Trust, Port Erin philanthropist William Milner and the tower that was named in his honour, and the ongoing renovation of a tholtan.

‘Everything we do at Rushen Heritage Centre is only possible because of the work of a dedicated team of volunteers, who give their time to ensure the Rushen Heritage Centre is open each week and that visitors are given a warm welcome.’

‘Rushen Heritage Trust would like to thank the Gough Ritchie Charitable Trust for its support towards this season’s exhibitions.’

The Rushen Heritage Centre, located in Bridson Street, Port Erin is open Tuesday to Saturday between 10am and 4pm, until early November this year.

2024 exhibitions

As part of its 2024 reopening, the centre has also released a list of a full list of this season’s exhibitions:

l RNLI 200: The Story of Port Erin and Port St Mary Lifeboat Stations – March 12 - April 20

l Summer Holidays in the South – April 23 - June 1

l The Art of Wild – June 4-July 13

l The Manx Grand Prix and the 150th Anniversary of the Port Erin Steam Railway Line – July 16-August 24

l Milner: The Man & The Tower – August 27-October 5

l Rollage ny Twoaie: Renovating a Tholtan – October 8-November 2