Stromness Lifeboat Station Established 1867

This station covers most of the north of Orkney and the west side of those Islands.

08-06-2011 0180 Committee Room


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 being a small neighbouring island to Stromness.


A lifeboat house and slipway were constructed at the Point of Ness at a cost of £200.

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Ruins of original lifeboat house at the Point of Ness

recovery saltaire

First lifeboat Saltaire O.N.286, stationed in Stromness, a 33ft x 8ft 6ins 10 oared self-righting boat.


Silver Medal awarded to Robert Leask for putting off in a small boat in squally weather on 28th November and saving two out of three people whose boat had capsized. His Silver Medal has been loaned to Stromness Museuem by a decendent where it it is now on display.


Owing to difficulties in launching the lifeboat at the Point of Ness launching area, it was decided in 1890 to keep the lifeboat Saltaire  in the harbour. 

June 1891:

Saltaire replaced by Good Shepherd, O.N.299, a 42ft x 11ft 12 oared self- righting boat.

good shepherd


Because of the difficulties of keeping the lifeboat afloat, it was decided to purchase a new site utilising an existing building as the lifeboat house and to construct a timber slipway.

08-06-2011 0191 Old slip


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


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 11th December 1907. Cox,n Greig's medal is on display in the Lifeboat Station.

April 1909:

Good Shepherd replaced by John A Hay, O.N.561, the first motor powered lifeboat on station. Previous lifeboats had been converted.



The Admiralty were notified that no information was given to the Lifeboat Association with regard to the loss of HMSD Hampshireon 5th 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 number of the crew of the Hampshire would have been saved


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

March 1928:

John A Hay replaced by J.J.K.S.W., O.N.702, a 51ft. Barnett (Stromness type), that was specially designed for service at Stromness. The naming ceremony was performed by H.R.H. Prince George.



Bronze Second-Service Clasp awarded to Coxswain William Johnston in recognition of the meritorious conduct and fine seamanship when 12 men were rescued from the trawlerCarmania 11of Grimsby which was totally wrecked on the Kirk Rocks, Hoy Sound, on 14th February. A telegram of congratulations for this service to the lifeboat crew from H.R.H. Prince George still can be seen in the old Lifeboat Station.


Two service calls to Shetland waters lasting 55hrs and 36hrs respectively within a 14 day period. Lifeboats were not fitted with radios at this time.


Radio equipment fitted to lifeboat.


Letter of Thanks from the R.N.L.I. awarded to Coxswain W. Linklater for rescue of the trawler Siberite'screw at Rora Head.


Letter of Appreciation from R.N.L.I. awarded to Coxswain R. Greig for the service to search for the Danish schooner Nordstjernen. The Danish Government sent a letter of thanks to R.N.L.I. for this service by the Stromness Lifeboat.


Letter of Thanks on Vellum awarded to Coxswain W. Sinclair for the rescue of survivors from the trawler Leicester Cityat Braebuster Point Hoy.


Lifeboat involved in various mercy trips owing to severe snowfalls disrupting road transport.

May 1955:

J.J.K.S.W.was replaced by Archibald & Alexander M Paterson, O.N.924.

alexander paterson


Celebration Centenary Vellum presented to station & Commemorative Vellum Presented to the Ladies Guild by the Duke of Atholl.


Archibald & Alexander M Paterson replaced by Arun class lifeboat Joseph Rothwell Sykes and Hilda M, O.N.1099.

Arun  52-29


Internal alternations to the boathouse were made. This included the provision of a crew room. 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.


Further repairs were carried out to the access walkway.


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 Cragie for the service on 17th June when relief lifeboat Newsbuoy rescued the nine members of the replica 12th century Hebridean Birlinn Aileach and and saved the boat. The Aileach had suffered steering failure in a north-westerly near gale and moderate seas.


The Orkney Island Council ratified the decision of the Transportation Committee for the provision of an alongside berth on the South Pier. The Council also agreed that a Portacabin could be placed in the position taken up by a fuel oil tank.

October 1998:

Joseph Rothwell Sykes and Hilda M replaced by Violet, Dorothy and Kathleen, O.N.1236.

vdk stromness harbour


Coxswain John Banks accorded the Thanks of the Institution inscribed on Vellum and Vellum Service Badge 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 showeres some 50 miles west of Orkney on the afrternoon of 26th 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 Scrabster, escorted by the Stromness lifeboat. Both the Faith Ann and her crew of five were saved. The Stromness lifeboat crew also received Vellum Service Certificates for the rescue of the Faith Ann & crew.

Medal Record

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

© Stromness RNLI 2011           Webmaster: Tim Barthorpe