The RNLI archive has been officially recognised by the international heritage organisation

The earliest documents in the history of the RNLI have been honoured by Unesco, as part of the Memory of the World programme.

Archive material dating from 1823-1854 makes up the collection, which is one of just 50 British archives to be recognised in this way in the past 22 years.

At an official ceremony last week, Julie James, RNLI heritage manager, and Hayley Whiting, RNLI heritage archive and research manager, accepted the award on behalf of the institution.

Ms James said: “This award recognises the crucial and unique part the RNLI has played in the nation’s wider seafaring history.”

The archive describes the foundation of the RNLI, which was originally known as the Royal National Institution for the Preservation of Life from Shipwreck.

Founded by Sir William Hillary in a pub in London in February 1824, the RNLI has been volunteer-led ever since.

The RNLI archive joins an esteemed list of Unesco-honoured collections, including the Royal Mail archive, Roman tablets from Bath, and Hepworth Cinema reels from 1916.