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Montrose lifeboat station’s place in history marked

Aileen Taylor and Dr James Morrison at the new information board
Aileen Taylor and Dr James Morrison at the new information board

Montrose lifeboat station’s important position in the history of maritime lifesaving has been charted in a new information lectern unveiled in perfect time for another landmark local day.

Next weekend will see the naming of the town’s 13th lifeboat, the Ian Grant Smith, the first of the RNLI’s new state-of-the-art Shannon class vessels to be stationed in Scotland.

Montrose is one of the two oldest lifeboat stations in the country and the town’s Heritage Trust has installed a new information board alongside the Wharf Street base in tribute to the volunteer crewmen whose bravery has saved hundreds of lives over more than two centuries.

The new lectern is also a tribute to the research of the late Dorothy Morrison, wife of world-renowned Montrose painter Dr James Morrison, using information from a book written by her in 2000 about the history of the burgh station.

The new lectern
The new lectern

The station started in 1800, pre-dating affiliation with the RNLI by 69 years and the new lectern reveals the remarkable figure of over 700 lives being saved by the principal and inshore boats during the first 200 years.

The fact-packed lectern details the early day origins of the first station at the harbour mouth, affiliation to the RNLI and one of the most notable rescues in the station’s illustrious history, the drama centred around the brig Henriette after it ran aground on the Annat Bank a week into a ferocious storm in 1872.

Additional material was researched by Aileen Taylor and staff at Montrose Museum with contributions from Trust members, and the completed feature was organised and funded by the Heritage Trust with help from Angus Community Grant Scheme.

Dr James Morisson and Aileen Taylor at the new lectern
Dr James Morisson and Aileen Taylor at the new lectern

Dr Morrison said: “Dorothy would have been delighted to have seen her research taking its place on this new handsome information board at the historic lifeboat station.”

Aileen Taylor added: “It has been exciting researching and making discoveries to supplement the work done by Dorothy Morrison. Stories of the dramatic rescues make fascinating reading”

The new lectern is the latest is a series of information points installed at Wharf Street by Montrose Heritage Trust.

Installation was undertaken by Montrose Port Authority which also cleared the waterfront of old tree stumps as further improvements to the historic waterfront.

Montrose lifeboat facts:

  • For more than a century, the Montrose lifeboats were rowed almost exclusively by the fishermen of Ferryden on the south side of the river mouth.
  • Surnames such as Mearns, West, Paton and Coull run through the history of the crew records, but the decline of the fishing industry saw brave volunteers increasingly drawn from a wider variety of occupations and that theme has continued into the 21st century.
  • Montrose’s first lifeboat was an eight crew rowing boat, one of five placed on the coast of Scotland by Henry Greathead.
  • He was the builder of the Original in 1789, the first boat to be built expressly for the purpose of saving life from shipwreck.
  • The open boats of the early years are a far cry from the revolutionary new Shannon-class vessel which arrived on station last year.
  • Developed by the RNLI and powered by water jets rather than propellers, the technology provides the lifeboat with immense capability and supreme manoeuvrability.

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