Lifeboat station was one of the first to be established
in Scotland, in 1803, with responsibility for
the sation being taken over by the RNLI in 1865.
Town Council agreed to build a shed for the new
boat and this building can still be seen in East
Grimsby. Money to pay for the new boat was raised
by readers of the 'People's Journal' newspaper.
The appeal raised so much money that there were
sufficient funds to pay for two new boats and
so 'People's Journal No.2' arrived
in Arbroath on the 2nd January 1866.
'People's Journal No.1' was already
on station in Peterhead. Built by Forrest &
Son of Limehouse in London she was the first sailing
and self-righting boat stationed in Arbroath.
32 feet long and 7.5 feet in the beam she also
carried 10 oars and had cost all of £242.
18 lives were saved in her 23 years of service.
She was replaced in 1888 by the 'William
Soutar' and one of her coxswains, William
Smith, carried out one of the most dramatic rescues
ever seen on this coast.
Sunday 16th October 1898, the Swedish brig
'Tjilvar' ran aground on the beach
near Hospitalfield House. She was the victim
of the worst easterly gale experienced in
this area for many, many years.
The gale had built up such a huge sea on the
harbour bar that it was impossible for the
lifeboat to launch. Men and horses were called
in to haul the boat out to a safer launch
site on Elliot beach. Meanwhile, the Coastguard
Rocket Company had managed to fire lines onto
the 'Tjilvar' but her crew did not
understand how to rig the breeches buoy.
William Smith had arrived on the scene to
wait for his lifeboat and crew and quickly
sized up the situation. He waded out to the
wreck accompanied by members of the rocket
brigade. Some of the men stayed in the water
to haul the lines - all the time fighting
the waves and tide. Coxswain Smith and some
others hauled themselves onto the wreck to
organise the rescue and all of the crew were
The RNLI introduced the first motor lifeboats in
1905, but Arbroath continued to use pulling and
sailing boats until 1932 when the 'John and
William Mudie' entered service. Her 35 horse
power engine gave her a range of 114 nautical miles.
her 28 years of service she saved 27 lives
but her most dangerous call-out took place
on the 9th February 1940. A German fighter
bomber had come across the hopper barge
'Foremost' heading for Methill and began
to bomb and strafe her. By the time coxswain
Swankie and his crew arrived on the scene
two men were already dead.
As the lifeboat came alongside to take off
the seven survivors a second German plane
joined in the attack. Matters were made even
worse by the anti-aircraft fire put up by
nearby minesweepers. Many of their spent shells
fell on the two boats. Eventually an RAF fighter
appeared and beat off the two attackers.
The surviving crew were taken off successfully
and the 'Foremost' was later towed
back to Arbroath. Coxswain Swankie received
the RNLI bronze medal in recognition of his
bravery and his crew received letters of thanks.
Robert Lindsay, a retired farmer living in Carnoustie,
left money in his will to buy a new boat for Arbroath.
A Liverpool class boat, 'Robert Lindsay'
arrived on the 8th July 1950. She had a range of
140 nautical miles and a top speed of seven knots.
She had a crew of 7 and could carry 30 survivors.
Safety equipment included a line throwing gun, searchlight,
loud hailer and radio-telephone.
Lindsay' was on station for 3 years
when she was overcome by disaster.
The townspeople awoke on the morning of
Wednesday 28th October 1953 to learn the
lifeboat lay upside down on the rocks west
of the breakwater. Of her crew, 6 were drowned.
had been seen during the night and a request
had been made to launch Arbroath and Anstruther
lifeboats. The suspected casualty was never
found but it seems likely she was the
'Islandmagee' - a Dundee sand boat which
disappeared that night on passage to Leith.
Lindsay' had become another casualty
of Arbroath's old enemy - a south-easterly
gale creating mountainous seas on the harbour
The present lifeboat, 'Inchcape'
takes her name from the reef on which the Bellrock
lighthouse stands. A Mersey class boat, she has
been on service since august 1993 and to date
has rescued over 100 lives. She has a range of
140 nautical miles, a top speed of 17 knots provided
by two 285 horse power turbo-diesels. She weighs
16 tons and has a crew of 6.
Arbroath also has an inshore lifeboat, essential
to this station for working along the cliffs.
This new D class boat, 'Duncan Ferguson'
is 16 feet long, usually carries a crew of 3 and
has a top speed of 27 knots. She is available
for service all the year round.
Technology has brought many changes to lifeboat
work in recent years but the service still depends
on three essential things -
The crew are all volunteers and must take part
in regular exercises and training courses. Only
the Mechanic is employed full-time. To ensure
both boats are available at any time 20 volunteers
Currently there are 29 volunteers
who serve on the 'Inchcape'.