The Ackergill Lifeboat



An extract from the John O' Groat Journal of 29th April 1910


Colonel Hendersonn addressing as many of the large assembalage as his voice could reach, first intimated that the following telegram had been received from Mrs Duff Dunbar-
"I much regret not being with you to-day. Wish you fine day and successful launch."
(cheers.) Continuing colonel Henderson said he vas very pleased to see so many of there that day to take part in that most important event in the history of the Local Committee of the Lifeboat Institution- the opening of the Ackergill slip-way.

The first boat was launched on the 14th March 1878, and was housed near the centre of the bay about two miles from there, the intention being that she should be launched off the beach. But this was found to be impossible on many occasions when the boat was most likely required owing to the heavy surf on the long shallow beach, so the boat was removed to the present house.
About three years ago the National Lifeboat Institution concidered it necessary to put a larger and more powerful boat at Ackergill than either of the two former boats owing to the great distance the boat might have to be taken for service
The coxswain and several members of the crew were sent to several places to see different types of boat and to report on what they concidered to be the most suitable. The result was that they selected the type which they now had. She was 37 feet long, with two centre boards and weighed about five tons with no gear on board.

It was very slow and dangerous work to launch such a heavy boat with the old process of the carriage on such a bad road at the beach, and so at the request of the Local Committee and Institution had erected that slipway, (Applause) The lifeboat could now be manned and launched in a few minutes in any weather and in any state of the tide. The slipway was unique in so far that it was the first that had been constructed of ferro-concrete, and he had no doubt many of them had read the interesting account of it which had appeared in the local papers.

The work was carried out under the superintendence of Mr Tripp on behalf of the Institution, and he had spared no time or trouble in seeing that it was properly done. On behalf of the Local Committee he begged to thank Mr Trip for his valued services. (Applause) There was one other thing he would remind them of and thet was that the Royal National Lifeboat Institution was carried on entirely by voluntary contributions. The institution expended last year upwards of £90.000 in support of nearly 300 stations and in rewards for saving life: and since the inception of the Institution in 1824 the comittee of managment had contributed rewards for saving upwards of 48,000 lives from shipwreck around the coast of the United Kingdom. (cheers.)

The hymn, "Eternal Father,Strong to Save," was then sung by a special choir led by Mr C. J. Gilbertson, and many of the audience joined in heartily. Prayer was next offered up by Rev.Mr Dickie in the course of which the devine blessing was solemnly invoked on the boat, the crew, the comittee, the Institution, and all who helped in the noble work of life-saving there and around the coasts.


The signal having been fired, the crew under coxwain Thain, quickly took their places in the boat. They were each clad in the regulation red "nightcap" and wore their life-belts. At a second signal Mrs Henderson smartly snipped the blue ribbon with a scissors and "Co-operator No3 slid rapidly down the incline watched by hundreds of eager eyes, and took the water in splendid form, amid loud cheers and the waving of hats and hand-kerchiefs. Scarcely had she left the slipway when the crew had all the sails up and set, and presently the lifeboat was scudding across the Sinclair Bay before a smart south-westerly breeze.
Meantime the band had struck up "Rule Britannia" and the spectators watched the progress of the boat with great interest.

On the call of convener Nicolson a hearty vote of thanks was passed amid cheers to Mrs Henderson for performing the ceremony, and an axtra cheer was awarded to her husband for his services as chairman of the local committee.


In a short time the lifeboat was put about and returned to engage in an exhibition of life-saving near the entrance to the pier. The boat having been securely anchored two lines were connected with the shore along which life-buoys were run out and in, and quite a number of lives were "saved" no fewer than five men clad in ordinary garb, voluntary undergoing a very cold bath in order to illustrate the means by which those in peril on the sea are often rescued from a watery grave.

Therafter the lifeboat was brought round again to the slipway and slowly hauled up to its position by means of the powerful whinch and stout steel rope which had been provided for the purpose.
"God save the King" having been played by the band and sung by the choir the proceedings were at an end, and the people sought their several ways home-ward.