The wind blew, the rain threatened, but an excellent crowd assembled on Saturday 6th June to attend the re-dedication of Girvan Lifeboat Station.
The Provost was there with Alec Clark representing South Ayrshire Council as was John Dalrymple Hamilton representing the Lord Lieutenant amidst a host of dignitaries to celebrate 150 years of the lifeboat since its inauguration in 1865.
Sir Andrew Cubie, Deputy Chairman of the RNLI was delighted to present the Vellum certificate to the oldest crew member present, Alec Ingram and two of the newest and youngest members of the crew who accepted it on behalf of the station.. The Reverend Richard Moffat gave a dedication prayer and the lifeboat prayer, whilst Lifeboat Operations Manager John Gourlay, star of the Girvan Musical Society sang the song ‘Home From the Sea’ plus reciting the ‘Lifeboat Poem’.
The duty of Master of Ceremonies fell to Robert McMaster, coxswain and mechanic who introduced everyone and kept the meeting to order despite the wind and a flurry of rain. Afterwards everyone was entertained to a superb buffet and the station thanks the generosity of all those who contributed to this buffet and to the crew who also prepared a lot of the food on offer.
Perhaps this is the time to look briefly into the history of the Girvan lifeboat station from its inauguration in 1865. The land was gifted by the Duchesse de Coigny on which the station was built facing the sea. The first lifeboat was the ‘Earl of Carrick’ built at a cost of £300 and was launched by carriage which could if necessary be transported by road to a launching site nearer to the emergency. It was quicker by road than having the crew row tiringly against a raging sea.
In 1910 the lifeboat station was moved and rebuilt on a new site at a cost of £800 where it was used until 1931, and was demolished to make way for the beach pavilion in the 1960’s.
In 1931 the first motor lifeboat ‘Lily Glen-Glasgow’ arrived and was kept at moorings in the harbour. Following the completion of a new harbour jetty in 1960, alongside moorings were taken up at the head of the jetty to improve accessibility. A gear store was built at the foot of the jetty backing on to Knockcushion Street where the crew could also change.
In 1992-3 a new shore facility was built on the site of the previous building which included a store, a changing area, a souvenir shop, crew training facilities, a galley, toilet and washing facilities.
In 2004 a new pontoon was installed to improve boarding arrangements and shortly a new lifeboat, a Shannon will replace the current Mersey. Girvan has proved to be an excellent site for a lifeboat and has had its share of emergencies with the lifeboat standing by when the Irish ferry was stranded in Cairn Ryan. During a call out in 1991 two crewmen David Butcher and Barry Hubbard were awarded letters of thanks on vellum for their bravery in boarding the yacht Ma Joie 11 in very heavy seas.
Girvan lifeboats over the years; 1864-1882 Earl of Carrick, 1882-87 Sir Harry Popham, 1887-1901 2nd. Sir Harry Popham, 1901- 31 James Steven N0.18, 1931-52 Lily Glen-Glasgow, 1952-55 Frank & William Oates, 1955-60 Robert Lindsay, 1961-68 St. Andrew Civil Service no.10, 1968-77 James & Barbara Aitken, 1977-83 The William & Mary Durham, 1983-89 Philip Vaux, 1989-93 Amateur Swimming Association, 1993-Silvia Burrell