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The Inchcape
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The Inchcape

Arbroath's 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.

The 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.

On 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 saved.

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.

During 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.

'Robert 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.

Flares 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.

'Robert Lindsay' had become another casualty of Arbroath's old enemy - a south-easterly gale creating mountainous seas on the harbour bar.

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 -

, Commitment and Volunteers!

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 are needed.

Currently there are 29 volunteers who serve on the 'Inchcape'.

The Inchcape
Some Facts

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Crew Training Fund

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