By John Aitken
The question is often asked as to why a maritime lifesaving service commenced so early at Montrose?
One answer could be that local captains and seafarers of coastal trading vessels often loaded coal bound for Montrose at Sunderland and other north-east of England harbours where trials by Henry Greathead, a boatbuilder at South Shields and others including William Wouldhave also working in the Tyneside area, were under way with an oared wooden rescue boat.
This craft eventually evolved into the famous Original around 1789 and it was from Greathead that the first Montrose lifeboat was procured around 1800.
For two centuries and more, the crews of many ships endeavouring to navigate along the east coast and also endeavouring to enter Montrose harbour have much to thank the local lifeboat service for.
Since the first years of the 19th century, the provision of a succession of lifeboats manned by dedicated crews has provided a timely lifeline in many a mariner’s hour of need.
Two histories of local lifeboats and stations have been published over the years, the first by a former Coxswain David Duncan in 1904 and more recently by the late Dorothy Morrison in 2000.
The third is currently in preparation as part of a national RNLI station book project.
Attention is currently on the recent arrival of the state-of-the-art Shannon-class, water jet propelled boat Ian Grant Smith. On Friday, August 21, the new boat was accompanied on the final leg of her journey up the South Esk by a flotilla of small craft to a loud cacophony emanating from the horns from oil-related ships berthed in the port.
With advances in reproduction, print technology and design, and the current emphasis more on illustrative presentation, it is felt the forthcoming volume should reflect such changes.
Members of the respective communities of Montrose and Ferryden and possibly further afield hopefully can submit a further selection of images and/or prints pertaining to the local lifeboat service both past and present. All such imagery should be clearly marked as to ownership and examples used would be fully credited as to their source .
Submissions should be lodged with Scott Murray (coxswain/mechanic) at the RNLI Lifeboat Station, Wharf Street, Montrose or emailed to him at Montrose@rnli.org.uk.