Station history

A branch of the Institution was formed at Portrush in December 1860 and a 30 foot single banked boat placed on service. A lady (M.A.C.S.) generously donated this lifeboat and another at Porthcawl.


Silver Medal awarded to William Richardson for rescuing a man in January 1842. Four men were going out to lift fishing lines off Portrush when their boat was struck by a heavy sea and sank immediately. Three of the men were drowned the other man was saved by the intrepid exertions of Mr Richardson.


Lifeboat house constructed at a cost of £140.


New slipway constructed, the old one having been washed away.


Lifeboat house rebuilt at a cost of £140.


The lifeboat launched on 1 November to a schooner but it transpired that her assistance was not required. Owing to the weather she could not return to Portrush so made for Bush Strand. As the lifeboat was manoeuvring she was struck by an exceptionally heavy breaker and capsized. Three of the crew unfortunately lost their lives - G Grills, James McAlister and William McNeill. Most of the other men were badly injured. Committee of Management voted £600 to the local fund.


Silver Medals awarded to Captain F Watt, Coxswain John Hopkins and William McAllister for a service to the Schooner Ellen Myvanwy anchored in Skerries Roads in a north-westerly gale with very heavy seas on 2 March 1891. After several attempts over two days the lifeboat succeeded on 4 March, under sail, to take off the schooners three man crew and land them safely ashore. Mr McAllister’s award was for swimming out through heavy surf to rescue one of two crew washed overboard from the lifeboat. The other man was also saved.

Silver Medals awarded to Mr John Boyd and Mr David Patton for rescuing at considerable risk a boy from a capsized boat on 8 May1891. After witnessing the capsize Mr Boyd still wearing his clothes and heavy sea boots jumped in and swam to the boy. Mr Patten who was twice as far away on shore, ran to the quay threw off his coat and jumped in.  Both men supported the boy until a boat from the shore reached them.


New slipway constructed at a cost of £470.


A new boathouse and slipway were built at Lansdowne on the east side of Portrush. 


Silver Medal awarded to Robert Lemon for his attempts to save the crew of the ss Corsewell in distress on 9 April 1916. 


The first motor lifeboat arrived at station.


A new boathouse and slipway were built on the west side of the town for launching into the harbour.


The Thanks of the Institution inscribed on Vellum were accorded to Coxswain James Martin and Mechanic K D Chambers for rescuing John Fleming, a member of the crew, when he was washed out of the lifeboat whilst on service in tremendous seas on 19 October. That he was found and rescued was due to the presence of mind and splendid seamanship of the coxswain, the promptness with which the motor mechanic carried out his orders and the coolness and discipline of the crew. 


Centenary Vellum awarded to station.


Silver Medal awarded to Coxswain Samuel Cunningham, Bronze Medal to Second Coxswain Robert McMullan and The Thanks of the Institution inscribed on Vellum awarded to the remaining five members of the lifeboat crew, for rescuing 14 of the crew of the Argo Delos of Piraeus that went ashore on the islet of Tor Beg in a fresh south-easterly wind and rough sea on 22 October 1960. The coxswain took the lifeboat alongside the wreck several times and took off 14 men despite seas breaking over the ship and escaping oil making her deck slippery.


Thanks of the Institution inscribed on Vellum accorded to the coxswain and to each member of the crew in recognition of their courage in launching the lifeboat on 1 November, when five men were lost overboard from the Norwegian Frigate Bergen in a north westerly storm with a very rough sea. The District Engineer for Ireland, Mr N G Ruddock, went out as a member of the crew on this occasion.


The new Arun class lifeboat ON1070 Richard Evans was placed on service on 18 February. The Watson class lifeboat ON867 Lady Scott (Civil Service No 4) has been withdrawn.

A special Doctor's Vellum awarded to Doctor William Hill for boarding the trawlers Junella and St Jasper on 15 November 1981 to attend a patient on each trawler. The first patient had a brain haemorrhage and the second had inhaled chemical fumes. The combined cases were strenuous for the doctor, particularly as he had to board the trawlers as the lifeboat steamed alongside them. A first aider on board the lifeboat, Albert McQuilken was awarded A Framed Letter of Thanks signed by the Chairman of the Institution for his keen and competent help to Dr Hill.


Crew/instruction room constructed in boathouse.


Improvements were carried out to the crew facilities in the boathouse. These included a workshop, toilet facility and a souvenir sales outlet.  


Framed Letters of Thanks signed by the Chairman of the Institution were presented to crew members Trevor Creelman and Trevor McMullan for the assistance they gave to the local authorities during the floods at Ballycastle on 28 October 1990. In winds gusting to Force 6 and flood water 8ft deep in places, crew members Creelman and McMullan, using the lifeboat's inflatable, ferried 22 people to safety.  Underwater obstructions and debris prevented the dinghy's outboard engine from being effectively used, so they paddled, sculled, pushed and pulled the boat from house to house.


Slipway was extended and a suitable launching trolley was provided for the D class lifeboat to be placed on station for one season's evaluation commencing on 19 July.


Inshore lifeboat station officially established on 26 February with a new D class lifeboat, D456 Jonathan Simpson being placed on service.


The new station Severn class lifeboat ON1247 Katie Hannan was placed on service on 15 June 2000. Lifeboat ON1070 Richard Evans (Civil Service no 39) was withdrawn to the Relief Fleet.


Honorary Secretary John Scott was honoured by Her Majesty The Queen in the New Years Honours, he became a Member, Order of the British Empire.


The Thanks of the Institution inscribed on Vellum accorded to Helmsman Damian Rohdich in recognition of his courage, determination and stamina in saving a boy’s life. He climbed a cliff in full lifeboat clothing to reach and hold onto the young boy from 75 minutes on 9 September 2002. A coastguard cliff rescue team lowered them both to the base and the station’s D class lifeboat completed the rescue by taking the boy to Portrush.


Boathouse repairs completed at a cost of £28,825.


The Thanks of the Institution inscribed on Vellum accorded to Crew Member Conchur Dickinson in recognition of his action during a service on 17 August 2006 when the lives of three surfers were saved. The surfers were trapped in an undertow in breaking surf and time was of the essence. Conchur was authorised to act as helmsman of the D class inshore lifeboat and with crew member Liam Smith as his crewman saved all three in a short but dangerous service where the conditions could easily have caused the lifeboat to capsize. Liam Smith was awarded A Framed Letter of Thanks signed by the Chairman of the Institution Admiral Sir Jock Slater.


During a service on 29 January 2008, to rescue three men in a RIB, ON1247 Katie Hannan was grounded on rocks near the entrance to Rathlin Harbour. There was a heavy swell running at the time and the lifeboat was operating close to the breakwater. The men on the RIB were assisted ashore by the local coastguard team and all the lifeboat crew were recovered safely. Because of the adverse weather conditions the lifeboat was not removed from the rocks until 15 February and was taken, on a barge, to Devonport dockyard for a final assessment.

A new Severn class lifeboat ON1257 William Gordon Burr was placed on service 8 May 2008. The lifeboat was funded by the legacy of Mrs Nora Burr. Lifeboat ON1247 Katie Hannan has been withdrawn due to damage.


The Trustees voted the award of a 150 year Vellum to be awarded in 2010 to the station.


Bronze Medal awarded to Mechanic Anthony Chambers for saving two boys cut off by the tide in a cave on 5 August 2009. The inshore lifeboat made several unsuccessful attempts to enter the cave before Mechanic Chambers entered the water and rescued both boys.  

Inshore lifeboat D-738 David Roulston placed on service 9 September. The lifeboat was funded by the lifeboat fund and the upkeep and maintenance of this lifeboat is generous funded in memory of David Roulston from the Northern Ireland Tourist Board.


Eight Silver Medals and one Bronze Medal have been awarded to the men of Portrush, the last being voted in 1961.