Manchester Histories Festival

3 - 12 June 2016

Manchester and the RNLI

The City of Manchester has a special relationship with the RNLI which began in 1891 when the world's first charity street collection took place in Manchester on behalf of the RNLI.

Organised by local industrialist Sir Charles Macara, the collection followed the RNLI's worst ever lifeboat disaster, when 27 lifeboat men from Southport and St Annes died trying to rescue sailors on the stricken vessel Mexico in 1886.  The collection raised £5,500 – an amazing amount for the time – and the money supported the widows and children of the lost crewmen for many years. The event helped lay the foundations of what became central to the RNLI's method of funding its lifeboat service.

Image of the front of the printed souvenir programme for RNLI's Lifeboat Saturday in 1892The next year, the fundraiser consisted of a procession through Manchester and the launch of a lifeboat at Belle Vue Zoological Gardens and launched on the lake at the site.

RNLI presenter Tom Ridyard MBE will talk about the Mexico disaster from the eyes of a crewman on the night of the tragedy and also Greater Manchester's links with the RNLI.

Tom Ridyard MBE worked in the textile industry for 50 years travelling the world installing water jet looms. Tom also worked as a  Retained Fireman for 7 years and it was during this time that he first came into contact with the RNLI which captured his determination to support the crew who risk their lives to save others.  Under Tom's guidance as Chairman of Bolton & District Branch, they have sustained income circa £25K a year. You will always find Tom at the heart of every activity the branch undertakes, often more than one thing every month.

Alongside his branch duties, Tom is the custodian of one the the RNLI's display boats which he keeps in inpecable condition. As an adult speaker for the RNLI, Tom always has a packed diary of appearances for the boat and himself. He will think nothing of dressing up in the style of a Lifeboat man from years gone by, in cork lifejacket and false beard speaking to groups about the history and work of the RNLI, raising awareness and funds as he goes. He can often be found at Lytham St Annes Lifeboat Station helping the crew polish their D-class. He is very well thought of at the station and continually gathers rescue stories to pass on the work of the RNLI to inland communities. He has lately been found helping clear the flooded Lifeboat Station from the 2013 storms. In 2015, Tom was delighted to receive his very well deserved MBE from the Queen for his voluntary work for the RNLI.


Sat 11 Jun 2016 11am - 11.45am


Manchester Town Hall

Albert Square, Manchester, M2 5DB




Book online here
0161 306 1982

More information


Event category

Industrial heritage

Event type

Celebration Day 2016, Free events, Talks

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