Aberdeen's station history


14 medals have been awarded, one Gold, seven Silver and six Bronze, the last being voted in 1976.

This station was one of the earliest in Scotland, being established in 1802 by the Harbour Commissioners.  Like the station at Arbroath, the first lifeboat was built by Henry Greathead. In 1875, a second station was established. Up until 1925, the Aberdeen lifeboat had the magnificent record of 589 lives saved.

At the beginning of 1925, at the request of the Harbour Commissioners, the RNLI assumed control of the lifeboats and of the rocket life-saving apparatus at Torry and the North Pier, the Commissioners agreeing to contribute £500 a year towards their upkeep.


Gold Medal awarded to Lieut Randall RN for the rescue on 17 January 1825 of four of the crew of the ship Devoran that had been wrecked at the Bridge of Don, north of Aberdeen.  Lieut Randall set up Captain Manby's rocket apparatus down on the beach and, after great difficulty, succeeded in throwing a line on board the wreck enabling a boat, manned by coastguards to bring off four survivors (he later received a bar to the Gold Medal in 1834 for services to Wanderer of Anstruther).


Silver Medals were awarded to Lieut John Sanderson RN and Lieut Thomas Langton RN for the rescue of 14 people from the smack Fame. It was driven ashore in Aberdeen Bay on 21 January 1830.


A 'Gold Boat' was awarded to Lieut Randall RN and a Silver Medal was awarded to Kenneth McCulloch HM Coastguard for the rescue, at the third attempt, of the Master and six men of the schooner Wanderer in a violent storm.


A Silver Medal was awarded to James Robinson for the rescue of 11 people from the brig Newcastle, which lost its mast in a storm and sank at anchor in Aberdeen Bay on 24 February 1844.


Centenary Vellum was awarded to the station. The centenary celebrations are described in the Journal of June 1929.


A member of the crew of No 2 lifeboat was washed out of the boat on service to Glen Cova on 2 April, but was rescued.


A Bronze Medal was awarded to Coxswain Thomas Sinclair a for the rescue of two of the crew of five of the trawler George Stroud. It went aground approximately 50ft from the North Pier wall in heavy seas and a strong south-easterly wind on Christmas Day 1935. Coxswain Sinclair handled the lifeboat with courage, determination and skill, taking her five times into the narrow space between the pier wall and the wreck.


During a 12-day period of gales in January 1937, the River Dee flooded. It caused widespread damage and isolated many buildings. The No 2 lifeboat was called out to rescue a woman and two men from a farmhouse. The coxswain took the lifeboat stern first through the front door. The farmhouse is now included among the local landmarks pointed out on coach tours.

A Silver Medal was awarded to Coxswain Sinclair and a Bronze Medal to Mechanic Alexander Weir and crew member John Masson. The Thanks of the Institution Inscribed on Vellum was accorded to Second Coxswain George A Flett; Second Assistant Mechanic James Cowper; Assistant Mechanic Robert J B Esson; John M Noble and Alexander S Masson in recognition of their meritorious conduct when the lifeboat launched on 26 January 1937 and rescued the crew of seven of the steamer Fairy drifting towards the heavy surf two miles south of Belhelvie. It was blowing a gale from the south east with a very heavy sea. The night was very dark, it was intensely cold and snowing hard. One man fell between the steamer and lifeboat and was promptly grabbed by John Masson, who saved the man's life at the risk of being dragged overboard himself. This service was carried out in the face of considerable danger.

A Silver Medal (Second-Service clasp) was awarded to Coxswain Thomas Sinclair and Bronze Medals were awarded to Second Coxswain George Fleet and Acting Motor Mechanic J B Esson for the rescue of two from a crew of eight of the trawler Roslin. It went aground, almost submerged with seas sweeping over her, just south of the mouth of the River Ythan at Newburgh on the bitter cold night of 5 November 1937. Unable to anchor and veer down, the lifeboat ran aboard the wreck six times before two survivors could be taken from the rigging. After a long and arduous search the damaged lifeboat returned to station at 5am.


An outstanding personality at Aberdeen was Coxswain Thomas Sinclair, who retired in 1949. He had a very distinguished record, having been coxswain of the two Aberdeen lifeboats for nearly 25 years, during which time 131 lives were rescued. He won the Bronze Medal for gallantry in 1935 and was awarded a Silver Medal twice in 1937.


Commemorative 150th anniversary Vellum awarded to station.


The Thanks of the Institution Inscribed on Vellum was accorded to Coxswain George A Flett, in recognition of his bravery and initiative. The lifeboat under his command rescued the crew of four of the fishing boat Trustful III and saved the boat on the evening of 26 October. The Trustful III had her propeller fouled by nets 1½ miles south east of Muchalls in a south-south-easterly gale and a high confused sea.


The Thanks of the Institution Inscribed on Vellum was accorded the Coxswain George A Flett in recognition of his skill and determination. The lifeboat under his command rescued the crew of 11 from the trawler Sturdee on the evening of 19 October 1955.  The trawler was wrecked approximately 1 mile north of Aberdeen Harbour, in a moderate southerly wind and a heavy swell after going ashore in poor visibility.


Aberdeen No. 2 station and Torry Life Saving Apparatus closed on 30 June.


Aberdeen lifeboat ON944 exhibited at Leith for the 9th International Lifeboat Conference held in Edinburgh from 4–6 June.


A D class lifeboat was sent to the station in August.


Silver Medals for gallantry were awarded to Coxswain Albert William Bird and Motor Mechanic Ian Jack. The Thanks of the Institution Inscribed on Vellum were accorded to Assistant Mechanic George Walker and crew members F Cruickshank and A Walker in recognition of their bravery, skill and seamanship. They rescued 12 crew from the fiercely burning trawler Netta Croan on 13 April 1974. The trawler was out of control, with her crew unable to steer her or stop the engines. The lifeboat closed the moving vessel as she circled to starboard and the 12 men were taken off within one minute.


A Bronze Medal for gallantry was awarded to Second Coxswain Charles Begg and The Thanks of the Institution Inscribed on Vellum accorded to Motor Mechanic Ian Jack in recognition of their seamanship, skill and efficiency. They rescued the crew of five of the fishing vessel Karemma of Leith, which had broken down outside Aberdeen harbour and was drifting towards the beach in a south easterly gale and a very rough sea on 12 March 1976. The lifeboat had to be taken alongside the vessel on three occasions in hazardous conditions to complete the rescue.


A Schat davit was installed on the quay for launching and recovering the D class lifeboat.


The previous shore facilities provided very little in the way of crew comforts. Proposals were drawn up for the construction of a new shore facility and D class boathouse at Dock Island.

In October, the City of Aberdeen Council granted Planning Permission and Building Warrant for the new shore facilities.



Work commenced on the new facilities in February 1997 and was completed in July 1997. The new building provides housing for the D class lifeboat and improved crew comforts.


A new Arun class lifeboat, ON1135 Mickie Salvesen was placed on service on Friday 28 August. Lifeboat ON1050 has been withdrawn and placed on the Sales List.


The new station Severn class lifeboat ON1248 Bon Accord was placed on service on 20 July 2000. This lifeboat was funded as a result of the Aberdeen Lifeboat Appeal together with the generous bequest of Miss Janette Reid Gordon and other gifts and legacies. Lifeboat ON1135 Mickie Salvesen was withdrawn to the Relief Fleet.


On 28 November 2001, the Committee of Management voted the award of a Vellum to Aberdeen to commemorate the completion of 200 years as a lifeboat station in 2002.


A new D class lifeboat D694 James Bisset Simpson was placed on station 17 April 2008. This lifeboat was funded by a generous gift left by Mrs Eileen Simpson.