Station history

This important station, which covers most of the north of Orkney and the west side of those Islands, was established by the Institution in 1867.

Originally the station had a lifeboat house and slipway but, owing to difficulties in launching, it was decided in 1890 to keep the lifeboat moored in the harbour.  In 1901, owing to the disadvantages of keeping the lifeboat afloat, it was decided to purchase a new site utilising an existing building as a lifeboat house and to construct a timber slipway.

1866

On January 1st 1866 a Graemsay man called Joseph Mowatt lost his life while attempting to save the lives of the crew of a ship called Albion.  This shipwreck led directly to the RNLI establishing a lifeboat station at Stromness, Graemsay is a small neighbouring island to Stromness. 

1867

Lifeboat house and slipway constructed at a cost of £200

1873

Silver Medal awarded to Robert Leask for putting off in a boat in squally weather on 28 November 1872 and saving two out of three people whose boat had capsized.

1902

Voted £15 to relief of widow of George Campbell who had died as the result of exposure whilst out on service on 19 December 1898.

New lifeboat house and slipway constructed at a cost of £1,250.

1908

Silver Medal awarded to Coxswain Robert Greig for a very gallant service resulting in three lives being saved from the trawler Shakespeare which went aground in very heavy seas on 11 December 1907.

1909

Lifeboat ON 561 John A Hay was the first lifeboat built as a motor lifeboat - previous lifeboats had been converted.

1916

The Admiralty were notified that no information was given to the Lifeboat Authorities with regard to the loss of HMSD Hampshire on 5 June, involving the loss of Lord Kitchener and his staff.  It is the belief of the local people of Stromness that if their lifeboat had been called out, large numbers of the crew of the Hampshire would have been saved.

1922

Bronze Medal awarded to Coxswain William Johnston for the rescue of two men from a small raft after their trawler Freesia had sunk on 1 January 1922.  They were the only survivors of a crew of 11.  The lifeboat also picked up two bodies.

1929

Bronze Second-Service Clasp awarded to Coxswain William Johnston in recognition of his meritorious conduct and fine seamanship when 12 men were rescued from the trawler Carmania II of Grimsby which was totally wrecked on the Kirks Rocks, Hoy Sound, on 14 February 1929.

1930

Shortly before 1700 on 29 March news came in that the trawler Ben Doran was wrecked on Vee Skerries.  There is approximately a square mile of skerries and blind rocks and unfortunately, the trawler had reached the centre of this area before she was held fast.  The trawlers Arora and Smiling Morn were first to try a rescue but despite courageous efforts in atrocious weather and sea conditions, they were unsuccessful.  News of this was received at Stromness at 1600hrs on 30th March and at 1645 the lifeboat crew set out in very heavy seas, snow squalls and gale force winds for Scalloway 134 miles away arriving at 0730 on 31st.  After refuelling the lifeboat set out on the remaining 25 miles and got there at noon.  Nothing of the trawler was visible but the gallows.  After an unsuccessful search the lifeboat returned to Scalloway for the night before, still in atrocious weather conditions, returning to Stromness.  She had been away from station for over 55 hours and had travelled 260 miles.

1953

The Thanks of the Institution inscribed on Vellum accorded to Cox William Sinclair in recognition of his determination, skill and initiative when the lifeboat launched at 0235 and rescued three crew members and landed two bodies from the trawler Leicester City that was aground off Hoy in a heavy swell and thick fog on 22 March. Also a Vellum accorded to Thurso coxswain for his part in this service. 

1967

Celebration Centenary Vellum awarded.

1984

Arun class lifeboat sent to station.

1989

Internal alterations to the boathouse were made.  This included the provision of a crewroom, galley and a souvenir sales outlet.  Repair works were carried out on the timber walkway, as was the provision of a timber fender on the slipway, in order to provide protection to the boarding boat.

1990

Further repairs were carried out to the access walkway.

1992

A collective Framed Letter of Thanks signed by the Chairman of the Institution Mr Michael Vernon was awarded to Coxswain James Flett, Second Coxswain John Banks, Mechanic Ronald Taylor, Assistant Mechanic James Adam and crew members Douglas Adam, William Wilson and Robert Craigie for the service on 17 June when the relief lifeboat Newsbuoy rescued the nine members of the replica 12th Century Hebredian Birwinn Aileach and saved the boat.  The Aileach had suffered steering failure in a north-westerly near gale and moderate seas.

1995

The Council ratified the decision of the Transportation C ommittee for the provision of an alongside berth on the South Pier.  The Council also agreed that a portacabin can be placed in the position presently taken up by a fuel oil tank.

1998

Severn class lifeboat ON 1236 Dorothy & Kathleen was placed on service on 22 October.  This lifeboat was funded by the legacy of Miss V J Matton. The Lifeboat ON1099 The Joseph Rothwell Sykes and Hilda M has been withdrawn.

2002

Coxswain John Banks accorded the Thanks of the Institution inscribed on Vellum for his seamanship and determination in establishing a tow on the fishing vessel Faith Ann which was disabled in force 9 winds, heavy seas and showers some 50 miles west of Orkney on the afternoon of 26 April.  The tow parted several times because of the conditions and the Faith Ann was successfully handed over to the Thurso lifeboat which towed her into Thurso, escorted by the Stromness lifeboat.  Both the Faith Ann and her crew of five were saved.

MEDAL RECORD

Four medals have been awarded, two Silver and two Bronze, the last being voted in 1929.

FOREIGN AWARD

Letter of appreciation to crew of lifeboat by Danish Government in 1939 in respect to launch to Schooner Nordstennan of Marstal.