Historic Lifeboat service board comes home after 129 years

Keith Webb (left) presents a Newburgh-on-Ythan Lifeboat Station service board dated 1889 to Bill Deans (centre), Aberdeen Lifeboat operations manager and Bec Allen (right), honorary secretary of Aberdeen Branch, RNLI
Keith Webb (left) presents a Newburgh-on-Ythan Lifeboat Station service board dated 1889 to Bill Deans (centre), Aberdeen Lifeboat operations manager and Bec Allen (right), honorary secretary of Aberdeen Branch, RNLI

A keen English collector of RNLI memorabilia has generously donated a service board, recording rescues by the Newburgh Lifeboat, to Aberdeen Lifeboat Station.

Service boards traditionally record notable rescues from a lifeboat station.

This Newburgh service board records two rescues by the lifeboat ‘Alexander Charles and William Aird’. In 1882, 2 lives were saved when the lifeboat – propelled by oars – rescued crew from the Newburgh smack ‘Conqueror’. Then in 1889 the crew saved 11 lives when the steam trawler ‘Gannet’, from Granton, ran aground at the mouth of the River Ythan.

Keith Webb – a self-styled “RNLI Anorak” – lives in Wrexham from where he travelled specially to Aberdeen to make the presentation. He has been a member of the RNLI Enthusiasts Society since 1971 and a Life Governor of the RNLI since 1975. He traces his interest in lifeboats back to a family holiday at Filey Holiday Camp in 1969.

“I heard the maroons go off at the lifeboat station and I just ran to watch,” says Keith. “It was an Oakley class lifeboat, launched from a carriage which had to be wheeled down the beach. That was me hooked!”

In the 1980s, Mr Webb started running marathons to raise funds for the RNLI. To date, he has run the marathons in London (1984), Paris (1985), New York (1986 & 2016) and he is currently in training for the Chicago marathon in 2018.

Bill Deans, lifeboat operations manager at Aberdeen Lifeboat Station, accepted the gift of the service board and said: “It’s wonderful to see a rare piece of local lifeboat history come home.

"We’re very grateful to Keith Webb and hope to make arrangements for the service board to be displayed at the Sand Bothy community café at Balmedie Country Park, where they already have a display describing shipwrecks and lifeboat rescues on the local coastline.”