behind every station, there’s history
5th October 1973.
The Royal National Lifeboat Institution, who have decided to station a Lifeboat at Macduff in Banffshire, are also proposing a boat for the Cromarty Firth Area.
They have been having discussions with Invergordon town council, and in a letter submitted to the council on Monday evening, the Institution referred to their review of Lifeboat coverage in the North Eastern Division, inter alia to establishing a station at the Invergordon are
The Council had met the staff Inspector of the R.N.L.I. in July and had outlined the Institutions proposals.
On Monday evening, the Council were informed that Commander Gladwin of the R.N.L.I. would be visiting the town that week and give more details of what they had in mind. He was investigating the crew potential for manning the Lifeboat and suitable berthing arrangements.
23rd November 1973
Provost Ian MacKean presided at a public meeting at Invergordon Town Hall, on 9thNovember, to discuss the possibility of a Lifeboat Station being sited in the burgh.
He introduced Commander Peter Gladwin, and Divisional inspector T.F.Nuttman, of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution, who outlined their plans for the establishment of the station.
Commander Gladwin said the R.N.L.I. had carried out a detailed survey of the coast from Wick to Peterhead, and the Institute had decided that Macduff and Invergordon were the best sites.
Mr Nuttman had done all the spadework in the initial stages, and it appeared that there would be no difficulty in finding suitable moorings at Invergordon.
Commander Gladwin envisaged a start being made in February next year, and it was obvious from the interest shown, and the fact that 17 men had already volunteered to crew the vessel, that there was a nucleus for a station at Invergordon.
The RNLI had originally considered allocating the new Arun class of life boat to Invergordon, the reality was that there was not enough shipping to justify one of these new, fast and expensive boats to Invergordon.
In the summer of 1974 the Royal National Lifeboat Institution held a public meeting in the cinema or picture house as it was then called to find out if there was local support to open a lifeboat station in Invergordon. This was a well attended meeting and the RNLI personnel present included Mr Tom Nutman, Lifeboat Inspector for Scotland. Volunteers were asked for and a good number of men came forward indicating that they were willing to be considered for Lifeboat crew training. Interestingly when the time came later in the year to commence training the number had diminished somewhat, however there were enough men left who were willing to commit themselves to training and crewing the boat, and so Invergordon Lifeboat Station came into being.
A number of appointments needed to be made and in those days as now, each Lifeboat Station had a Chairman and boats officers. The Chairman appointed was the late Sir John Hayes. Sir John was a retired Naval officer who had previously been Flag Officer for Scotland and was also the Chairman of the newly created Cromarty Firth Port Authority. Honorary Secretary Captain Alasdair Black (Now called Lifeboat Operations Manager or LOM for short) and who carried out important operational functions at the station such as calling out the crew when needed. Alasdair was the first Manager of the CFPA.
The Coxswain, who skippers the lifeboat, was the late Angus MacDonald, Marine Superintendent for the Aluminium Smelter, his second Coxswain was David Lipp Principal of Guidance and of Technical Subjects as well as Nautical Studies in Invergordon Academy. The Motor Mechanic Ron Colgan, had previously been mechanic on the RAF launches operating out of the Cromarty Firth and the Assistant Mechanic Mike Webb a Marine Engineer now land bound and working at the Smelter. In addition a number of crew were appointed.
It was a good start to the life of the station as there was excellent communications between these men.
There had been a lifeboat stationed at Cromarty but due to a shortage of crew was closed in 1968 and with increased shipping in the area due to the smelter and the opening up of the oil industry The RNLI decided it was time once more to have a station in the inner Moray Firth.
Instead a Barnett class boat, RNLB Hilton Briggs ON889, Legacy of Mrs E.A.Briggs, previously stationed at Aberdeen and Fenit and in relief fleet where she rescued 35 lives was initially stationed at Invergordon, with the RNLB James and Margaret Boyd of 52 feet in length and with a full speed of almost 9 knots was allocated and became the first of six different types of lifeboat to be stationed at Invergordon to the present time.