Lifeboats have been launching from Dunbar Harbour for nearly 200 years and the crews have been honoured with 12 awards for gallantry. Today, the station operates two lifeboats – an inshore D class and an all-weather Trent class lifeboat.
This station is classed as a Discover station. Our crews from Discover stations are equally welcoming to visitors but many of these stations were built before visitors were considered. These stations normally open their boathouse doors during the summer months.
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Dunbar’s RNLI volunteer crews found themselves involved in three rescues over a matter of hours on Sunday.
Dunbar’s inshore RNLI lifeboat went to the aid of a fishing boat broken down with two people on board a mile and a half off the town’s harbour on Monday.
Details of every lifeboat station in Scotland are contained within a new book about the RNLI's lifesaving service
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Dunbar Lifeboat StationVictoria Harbour Victoria Place Dunbar East LothianEH42 1HS
Station opening times:
By appointment only
Don't miss: crew training–ILB 7pm on Sunday, Monday and Wednesday
ALB 12pm Sunday and 7pm Monday
Visitor contact telephone:
Shop opening times:
Specific crew member details for this lifeboat station are not available here at the moment.
More than 4,800 lifeboat crew members around the UK and RoI drop everything when their pagers go off, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
Only 1 in 10 crew members has a professional maritime occupation. Men and women of all ages and all walks of life crew the RNLI lifeboats around our coasts and waterways.
Lifeboat name: Jimmy Miff
Lifeboat class: D class
Funded by: A generous donation from Mr James F Hall in memory of his late beloved wife Helen Davidson Hall
Read more about the D class
Lifeboat name: John Neville Taylor
Lifeboat class: Trent
Funded by: The legacy of Mr John Neville Taylor
Read more about the Trent
Although Dunbar was re-established by the Institution in 1864 (previously having lapsed for some years) the history dates back a long way. There was a lifeboat at Dunbar in 1808 and in December 1810 the lifeboat saved between 40 and 50 men from HMS Pallas in two trips. On the third trip she became overcrowded, capsized - ten seamen of the Pallas and one lifeboat crew member, B. Wilson perished.
1827Old boathouse used a committee room.
Silver Medal and £3 awarded to Mr Randal Stap, chief officer of coastguard, for wading fifty yards through a heavy surf and bringing ashore, by carrying him on his back, the master of the sloop Brothers which was wrecked off Dunbar on 4 March 1827 in a strong gale and heavy snow.
1845On 1 October Lt Sydenham Wylde RN, with Coastguard boatmen William Lucas and David Davey, and three seamen, William Clements, Peter Davey and William Miller launched a fishing boat to go to the aid of a fishing boat which had been wrecked. Their boat was unfortunately wrecked and all six men drowned. The RNLI gave £20 to Lt Wylde’s widow and £30 to the families of the other five men.
1852Silver Medal awarded to James Brown, coastguard, for twice jumping into the sea and rescuing the master and one of the crew of the schooner Susan, wrecked on Yellow Carr Point in stormy weather on 9 January1852.
Silver Medal awarded to Robert Turnbull, a fisherman, for swimming to a rock in Dunbar Harbour during a gale on 28 February 1852 and rescuing the skipper and his young nephew when the fishing yawl William and James was wrecked.
1864Lifeboat house constructed at a cost of £165.
1877On 13 October the lifeboat capsized whilst on exercise with the loss of two of her crew, R Clements and Robert Harkis. Committee of Management voted £200 to local fund.
1901Existing lifeboat house demolished and new one constructed by Mr A Gordon at a cost of £633.
1905Silver Medal awarded to Coxswain Walter Fairbairn for the rescue of six from the ss King Ja Ja of Swansea that was in difficulties and eventually wrecked near Thorntonloch, in a north-westerly gale on 13 October 1905.
1906Decided that a lifeboat station be placed at Skateraw and worked by Dunbar.
1909Decided to dispense with horses.
1930Centenary Vellum awarded
1943Mr W Bertram, who had been honorary secretary since January 1897 died. He had been awarded an aneroid barometer in 1900 for a wreck service, binoculars in 1905, Gold Badge in 1930 and appointed as honorary life governor in 1939.
1953Second Coxswain R G Brunton awarded Royal Human Society’s testimonial on parchment for the rescue of a boy who had fallen over the cliffs.
1958A 150th Anniversary Commemorative Vellum awarded.
1968Inshore lifeboat station established with the placing on service of a D class lifeboat.
1970Bronze Medal awarded to David Brunton, who dived into the sea from the lifeboat without a lifejacket or line, to rescue an injured man in the water on 23 December 1970. For assisting in this rescue, the Thanks of the Institution inscribed on Vellum was accorded to Jonathan J A Alston and Framed Letters of Thanks signed by the Chairman of the Institution, to the remaining five crew members.
1991Thanks of the Institution inscribed on Vellum was accorded to Coxswain Robert Wight in recognition of his high standard of seamanship and leadership, when the lifeboat Hugh William Viscount Gough, on temporary duty at Dunbar, searched for divers in difficulty between St Abbs and Eyemouth in hurricane seas, with visibility reduced by rain squalls and spray on 6 October 1990. The divers were rescued by the Eyemouth lifeboat, whose Acting Coxswain/Assistant Mechanic, James A Dougal, was awarded the Institution’s Silver Medal for this service.
1993All weather lifeboat low water mooring provided at Torness, approximately four miles south of Dunbar on the 1 August, when the Solent class lifeboat was withdrawn and replaced by a Waveney class lifeboat.
1995The new station Trent class lifeboat ON1207 Sir Ronald Pechell BT was placed on service on Sunday 17 December 1995. This lifeboat was funded from the generous bequest of Dora, Lady Pechell, The Dunbar Lifeboat Appeal together with other gifts and legacies. Waveney class lifeboat withdrawn.
1996Work was carried out within the boathouse to improve the crew facilities. An extension to the rear port side of the boathouse was also constructed to provide housing for the D class lifeboat and launching vehicle.
1999D397 capsized whilst on exercise on 1 May.
A new D class lifeboat, D544 was placed on service on Tuesday 25 May. D397 has been withdrawn to Poole Depot as a Relief.
2007The Trustees voted that an Anniversary Vellum be awarded in 2008 to commemorate the stations 200th anniversary.
2008The station Trent class lifeboat ON1207 Sir Ronald Pechell BT broke free from her moorings during severe weather on the night of 21/22 March 2008. She was severely damaged when she was driven onto the rock armour of the harbour. It was subsequently declared she was beyond repair. The Trent class lifeboat ON1266 John Neville Taylor became the station lifeboat.
2010Bronze Medal awarded to Coxswain Gary Fairbairn in recognition of his superb seamanship, courage and determination for his part in the rescue of two people from their yacht Ouhm in a severe gale on 15 May 2009. Coxswain Fairbairn manoeuvred the Dunbar lifeboat next to the yacht in a swell of up to ten metres three times before both of the yacht’s crew were recovered to the lifeboat. Cox Fairbairn received the Lady Swaythling Trophy for outstanding seamanship from the Shipwrecked Mariners and Fishermen’s Royal Benevolent Society for this rescue.
MEDAL RECORDFive Medals have been awarded, four Silver and two Bronze, the last being voted in 2009.
FOREIGN AWARDSIn 1932 a letter of appreciation was received from the German Government in connection with the assistance given by the lifeboat to the ss Birkenan of Bremerhaven
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.