Mallaig Lifeboat Station


The first vessel built specially to rescue people from stormy seas was the Original, built in 1790 by Henry Greathead of South Shields. 34 years later, in 1824, the RNLI (Royal National Lifeboat Institution) was founded and since then has saved over 133,500 lives in the waters round the coasts of Britain and Ireland. The RNLI is financed entirely by contributions from the public.

Lifeboat at Mallaig

The Mallaig Lifeboat "Henry Alston Hewat"

The first lifeboat stationed in Mallaig was the former Tobermory lifeboat, Sir Arthur Rose, in 1948. Although a slow and clumsy vessel by today's standards, the Sir Arthur Rose was sailed by men who have become local legends and took part in some remarkable rescues, including that of the M.V. Tapti , in 1953, in which 62 people were saved, the largest number saved in one operation by the Mallaig lifeboat.

She was followed by the EMM Gordon Cubbin in 1957 and then by the Arun class lifeboat, the Davina and Charles Matthews- Hunter in 1982. This vessel was replaced by a new Severn class vessel, the Henry Alston Hewat, in January 2001.

As the most westerly lifeboat station on the British mainland the Mallaig lifeboat is regularly called out to assist vessels in trouble in the South Minch and along the south and east coasts of Skye. It can also be called on to transport the doctor, police or fire service to the islands or to inaccessible parts of the mainland in emergency. The most unusual use of the lifeboat probably occurred during the General Election of April 1992, when a helicopter carrying ballot boxes from the Small Isles crash-landed in Knoydart and the boxes were transported to Mallaig by lifeboat.

All the lifeboatmen are volunteers and since the founding of the lifeboat station a proud tradition of service has grown up, with sons following fathers in the lifeboat service, coming from all backgrounds. The lifeboat crew includes all trades among those ready to leave their homes or work at a moment's notice.

Mallaig Lifeboat Service Log is compiled from reports in the pages of the local newspaper, Westword.