Station history

Station established in 1931 in view of the number of casualties in the area.

There are no launching limitations except in severe south westerly weather when it is difficult to get aboard the lifeboat.

1931

A new W type lifeboat ON684, John R Webb, built at a cost of £8,747, was put into service.

1932

A new Barnett class lifeboat ON754, The Lloyds, built at a cost of £9,443, was put into service.

1942

John McNeil, a member of the crew, was taken ill and died of pneumonia following the capsize of the boarding boat following a service on 22 January.  The Institution granted pensions to his dependants.

1943

Silver Medal awarded to Coxswain Murdo Sinclair for a service on 5 September.  The reserve Watson class motor lifeboat Duke of Connaught launched at 9am and proceeded on a 40 mile journey to Loch Bracadale on the Isle of Skye where the 9,000 ton s.s. Urlana had run aground in gale force winds with continual rain and heavy seas.  As Coxswain Sinclair rounded her stern a collision with a motor boat full of survivors from the stricken vessel was narrowly avoided.  Shortly after the motor boat’s engine failed and only after great difficulty did the lifeboat tow her to the rescue vessel before setting out for Carbost on the opposite side of the Loch arriving at 6 pm.

1957

A new Barnett class lifeboat ON935, RA Colby Cubbin No 3, built at a cost of £38,500, was put into service.

1979

The Barra Island 52ft Barnett Class lifeboat R A Colby Cubbin No 3 capsized at 0346 on 18 November 1979, off the west coast of Scotland whilst answering a distress call from the Danish coaster Lone Dania.  The Islay lifeboat, a Thames Class named Helmut Schroder of Dunlossit also capsized at 01.45 whilst on service to the same casualty.  Both lifeboats righted successfully without loss of life by their different righting methods.  The Barra Island lifeboat is fitted with an air bag which automatically inflates in the event of a capsize whilst the Islay lifeboat is inherently self-righting by means of a watertight superstructure.  It was the first time that either of these classes of lifeboat had capsized on service and the Institution's inquiry found that "…there was no failure of the lifeboats or their equipment which contributed to the capsizes".  An analysis of the weather on that night shows that the winds were gusting to force 11/12 and the significant height of the waves was around 30 feet with a 10 per cent chance of encountering a sea of 60 feet.  These seas were described by the investigator as "diabolical", and the coxswain of the Islay lifeboat stated that the weather was as bad as he had experienced in 17 years in the lifeboat service.

1988

Solent class lifeboat withdrawn and replaced by an Arun class, the Ann Lewis Fraser ON1143

1991

New boat-store constructed.  This provides a boat-store/workshop, assembly room, kitchen, a small store and toilet facilities.

1994

A new Schat launching davit for the boarding boat was installed alongside the Quay.

1998

The new station Severn class lifeboat ON1230 Edna Windsor was placed on service on Saturday 13 June 1998 and was funded by the generous bequest of Edna Windsor together with the legacies of Elizabeth Robertson Brechin, Irene Isabel Seaman, Evelyn Mary Stonehouse and Elsie Taylor 1998.

An alongside berth was completed in October.

2006

Bronze Medal awarded to Coxswain Donald MacLeod in recognition of his initiative, leadership and seamanship when the lifeboat escorted the damaged yacht Vijara to safety on 21 June 2006.  In severe gale conditions and with 11 metre seas breaking over the lifeboat, Coxswain MacLeod made passage through the Sound of Barra to intercept the yacht.  Once located, the yacht was escorted to Castle Bay via the Sound of Sandray.  During this passage the lifeboat’s navigation equipment proved unreliable and Coxswain MacLeod has to rely on his local knowledge.  At the approach to the Sound of Sandray the lifeboat suffered a knockdown but despite this the lifeboat maintained position to lead the yacht to safety.  In 2007 the Shipwrecked Fishermen and Mariners’ Royal Benevolent Society awarded their Lady Swaything Trophy for an outstanding feat of seamanship to Coxswain MacLeod for this service.

A Framed Letter of Thanks signed by the Chairman of the Institution Admiral Sir Jock Slater presented to Coxswain Donald MacLeod for a service on 20 June 2006 when two other yachts Knights Challenge and Rugffian, also taking part in the same race as the Vijara were assisted and brought to safety in similar weather conditions.

War record (1939-1945)

Launched on service 46.  Lives rescued 2114

Medal record

One Silver Medal 1943.  One Bronze Medal 2006.