People in Cornwall will have the opportunity to learn more about Her Majesty’s Coastguard’s unique history as a new exhibition opened this weekend to mark the organisation’s landmark 200th anniversary this year.

As part of HM Coastguard’s bicentenary celebrations in 2022, the National Maritime Museum Cornwall (NMMC) in Falmouth has been working closely with the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) and Sheffield’s National Emergency Services Museum (NESM) to develop the exhibition, called ‘Guarding the Coast’.

From being formally brought into existence on January 15, 1822 to prevent smuggling through to the high-tech technology now used today to keep people safe at the coast and sea, the exhibition features a wide-range of original objects, documents and imagery about HM Coastguard, as well as a collection of memorable stories – many from the men and women who have dedicated themselves to the service.

The exhibition has been funded by the MCA and, in a unique collaboration for NESM, will run concurrently at the NMMC and in Sheffield throughout the summer.


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Lindsey Skinner, of the NMMC, said: “For the first time in National Maritime Museum Cornwall's history we're running a concurrent exhibition with another museum, and we're thrilled it's an exhibition that celebrates the vital work of HM Coastguard. Cornwall is a coastal county, relying on organisations such as HM Coastguard to help keep everyone safe – our aim is that visitors leave this exhibition with a deeper understanding of the history of the Coastguard and the incredible work they do.”

Martin Leslie, Coastguard Operations Commander, together with Marc Thomas, senior coastal operations officer, have both been working with area management teams and HM Coastguard volunteers in Cornwall to support the museum’s curation in Falmouth.

Martin said: “HM Coastguard is a key pillar of coastal communities right across Cornwall and it’s fitting that the museum in Falmouth, which is only a short walk away from our Cornwall Area Coastal Operations base and Falmouth Maritime Rescue Co-ordination Centre (MRCC) where we coordinate responses to emergencies situations in the South West and support our colleagues throughout the rest of the UK, should host this fascinating exhibit in what is a momentous year for everyone connected, past and present, with our service.

"We are proud of our dedicated staff and on-call volunteers who work tirelessly to keep people safe at the coast and at sea all year round and I’m looking forward to visiting the exhibition to learn more about our rich history and heritage.”