Celebrating over 200 years as a lifeboat station, Arbroath is one of the oldest stations in Scotland and its crews have been honoured with seven awards for gallantry. The station has also seen tragedy with seven lifeboat crew losing their lives saving others.
After hitting the news in 2012 as Scotland’s oldest serving RNLI lifeboat crew member, Arbroath volunteer Ron Churchill Snr has now achieved further distinction by also becoming the charity’s oldest full-time lifeboat mechanic in Scotland, aged 61.
Arbroath’s all-weather lifeboat RNLB Inchape was launched on 30 October to assist a lobster fishing boat which had suffered twin engine failure.
The volunteer RNLI crew at Arbroath yesterday (27 October) marked the 60th anniversary of a disaster in which six lifeboat crewmen lost their lives.
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Arbroath Lifeboat StationShoreArbroath AngusDD11 1PD
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Lifeboat name: Duncan Fergusson
Lifeboat class: D class
Funded by: Mr Andrew Fergusson
Read more about the D class
Lifeboat name: Inchcape
Lifeboat class: Mersey
Funded by: Local appeal together with other gifts and legacies
Read more about the Mersey
The Arbroath Lifeboat Station is one of the two oldest in Scotland. It was established in 1803 and the first lifeboat was built by Henry Greathead who, in 1789, had built the Original, which was the first boat to be designed and built for the purpose of saving life from shipwreck. Little is known of the stations early history as records only exist from the time the station was taken over by the Institution from the local Lifeboat Committee in 1865
1827Gold Medal awarded to Lieut. Christopher Jobson RN, coastguard officer, for a service to the Clyde Packet when she was wrecked in a strong snow filled gale on rocks at Arbroath Harbour entrance on 2 January 1827. The Manby apparatus was used in a successful attempt to get a boat to the wreck, during her return the boat was swamped and capsized throwing three men, two women, and two children into the water. Lieutenant Jobson and a coastguard team rushed into the water and got them all ashore.
Gold Medal in the form of a gold lifeboat was awarded to Lieut. Jobson for rescuing the master of the vessel Alice that was driven ashore near Atbroath at 0200 in a severe gale accompanied by snow on the morning of 8 March 1827.
1865New lifeboat house built by town authorities (cost £179) on site of old house in road leading to harbour known as East Grimsby.
1911On 24 September, Bowman Peter Swankie, aged 64, fell beneath the carriage when the lifeboat was being taken to the slipway to be launched on service and was killed. Committee of Management granted his daughter £50 and grand-daughter £10.
1928A Centenary Vellum awarded.
1940Bronze Medal awarded to Coxswain William Swankie for going to the assistance of the barge Foremost of Aberdeen that was being attacked by a German aircraft on 9 February 1940. As the lifeboat approached, the attack was continued by two aircraft but despite machine gun fire and bombs the lifeboat went alongside the barge rescued the seven survivors and landed them at Arbroath. Coxswain Swankie was also awarded the British Empire Medal.
1952Lifeboat capsized whilst crossing the Harbour Bar after a launching to reported flares on 27 October, with the loss of six of her crew of seven. Pensions on service scale paid to dependants. More than £35,000 raised by the local disaster fund, including a contribution of £500 from the Institution. A commemorative bronze plaque erected on the storm wall of the Fish Quay. A stained glass window erected in St John’s Methodist Church to the memory of the Coxswain gifted by his widow, and a memorial plaque in the Old Church to the six men, gifted by Mr and Mrs Cargill who lost two sons. The names of the six men are Coxswain D Bruce and crew members T Adams, C Cargill, D Cargill, H Swankie and W Swankie (Jnr).
A 150th Anniversary Commemorative Vellum awarded.
1962Commemorative bronze plaque erected on the storm wall of the Fish Quay in 1953 transferred to the outside wall of the lifeboat house.
1963Arbroath lifeboat ON934 The Duke of Montrose, exhibited at the International Lifeboat Conference held in Edinburgh from 4-6 June.
1968A D class inflatable lifeboat sent to station.
1986An extension to the D class boathouse was completed. Facilities included a new boat store and improved crew facilities.
1992Modifications to the boathouse and slipway were carried out at a cost of £85,000 in order to accommodate the station’s new Mersey class lifeboat.
A Mersey class lifeboat sent to station 26 August replacing the Rother class lifeboat.
1993A new D class lifeboat D471 Coachmakers of London was placed on service on 19 October.
1997Over the years a gradual build-up of silt has been occurring in the proximity of the slipway and remedial dredging was carried out in 1987. In order to remedy this problem proposals were drawn up for the construction of a 10 metre extension to the slipway. In November 1995 the Crown Estate granted approval for the extension to the slipway and planning approval followed from Angus Council in November 1996. Work commenced in May and was successfully completed in June 1997.
2001Framed Letters of Thanks signed by the Chairman of the Institution Mr Peter Nicholson presented to Mechanic Allan Russell, Second Coxswain Thomas Yule and crew member Peter Willis who manned the relief D class inshore lifeboat and saved the crew of three of the yacht Grouse on the morning of 8 June 2002. The yacht was aground at Danger Point in fog, being pounded onto rocks by a large two metre swell which was further complicated by a large backwash returning from a nearby breakwater.
2002The Trustee Meeting held on 27 November decided that Arbroath Lifeboat Station be awarded a Vellum to commemorate the completion of 200 years service in 2003.
2004The new class of lifeboat IB1, D621 Duncan Ferguson was placed on service on Monday 2 August. This lifeboat was funded by a generous gift from Andrew Ferguson in memory of his father. D471 has been withdrawn to the Relief Fleet.
MEDAL RECORDThree medals have been voted. Two Gold and one Bronze, the last being voted in 1940.
FOREIGN AWARDOn 14 April 1905 the Arbroath lifeboat rescued five persons from the German Schooner Gesine. The German Emperor gave silver watches to the coxswain, second coxswain and bowman and made a monetary award to the rest of the crew.
The Royal National Lifeboat Institution is a charity registered in England and Wales (209603) and Scotland (SC037736). Charity number CHY 2678 in the Republic of Ireland | RNLI (Trading) Ltd - 01073377, RNLI (Sales) Ltd - 2202240, RNLI (Enterprises) Ltd - 1784500 and RNLI College Ltd - 7705470 are all companies registered at West Quay Road, Poole BH15 1HZ. Images & copyright © RNLI 2013.