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50yrs Ago - Relief Lifeboat ‘W & S’
The relief lifeboat ‘W.& S’ served at Buckie for the first half of 1961 following the withdrawal of the former Buckie Lifeboat ‘Glencoe Glasgow’ to the reserve fleet. This was in anticipation of the arrival of Buckie’s brand new lifeboat due for delivery in June.

The relief lifeboat ‘W.& S’ was of standard Watson design, 45 feet 6 inches in length.  The lifeboat previously served at Penlee, Cornwall for nearly 30 years.

New Crew Facility and Lifeboat Mooring
 As it was intended that Buckie’s new lifeboat would lie afloat at her mooring, ground had been acquired by the RNLI for the erection of a new gear store at the east end of Cluny Harbour.  The completion of the gear store was to coincide with the arrival of the new lifeboat in June 1961.  The present day boathouse now occupies the site of the former gear store.

The gear store was of a simple design and built over a supporting platform of timber supports.  These supports were set into the harbour bed.  Benches ran along the inside walls of the gear store and these doubled as lockers for holding sea boots and leggings.  The crew’s weather protective jackets and life jackets were hung above these lockers.



Lifeboat Station 1961 - 1993

The lifeboat was reached by means of a door within the west gable of the gear store providing access to an external metal stairway.  This stairway lead to a floating pontoon against which the new lifeboat would moor.  These facilities remained in use with little or no change until 1993 when the gear store was removed to allow construction of the present day boathouse.

Buckie’s lifeboat crew are presented to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth

The Queen, accompanied by the Duke of Edinburgh, paid a visit to Buckie on the 14th July 1961.  Earlier that day the Queen traveled through the coastal towns and villages of Banffshire.  This included a brief stop at Whitehills were Her Majesty met with the officials and crew of the former Whitehills lifeboat.

This photograph (below), taken at Buckie Harbour, shows Her Majesty in conversation with John Innes.  Also in the line up are Mechanic Jake Cole (with cap), James Roy, who is partially obscured behind the Queen and James Murray who is standing on John Innes’s left.  The Reverend J.D. Henderson can also be seen to the rear of the party.  The Reverend Henderson of Buckie North Parish Church was later to dedicate Buckie’s new lifeboat Laura Moncur’ which had recently arrived at her new station.

  This photograph, taken at Buckie Harbour, shows Her Majesty in conversation with John Innes. Also in the line up are Mechanic Jake Cole (with cap), James Roy, who is partially obscured behind the Queen and James Murray who is standing on John Innes’s left.  The Reverend J.D. Henderson can also be seen to the rear of the party.  The Reverend Henderson of Buckie North Parish Church was later to dedicate Buckie’s new lifeboat Laura Moncur’ which had recently arrived at her new station.
   
  In the photograph below Her Majesty is in conversation with James Murray.  Standing to the left of James Murray are Alex Slater and Roddy Davidson.  

Naming Ceremony for Buckie’s new lifeboat ‘Laura Moncur’
Buckie’s new lifeboat arrived at her home port in June 1961 having made the passage from her builders, Groves and Guttridge of Cowes.

The official naming ceremony of the new lifeboat took place at Buckie Harbour on 26th August 1961. The official programme (shown below) described the new lifeboat as:

  “A cabin motor lifeboat 47 feet long with a beam of 13 feet and draught of 4 feet 4 inches. On service, with crew and gear onboard, she weighs 23 tons. She lies afloat, her steering position is amidships and enclosed. Good all round visibility is provided by Perspex windows. The two front centre windows are fitted with Kent clear view screens and, if desired, these two panels together with the two wing panels can be hinged forward to give a completely clear opening. 

She is divided into 10 water-tight compartments which are fitted with 248 air cases and the engine room is fitted with a double bottom thus providing maximum protection to the machinery in the event of the outer bottom being damaged.  She has twin screws driven by two 60 hp Gardner diesel engines, giving her a full speed of 9 knots.  She carries enough fuel to travel 270 miles at this speed without refueling.

All engine maneuvering and operating controls can be worked from inside the steering position and no members of crew are required in the engine room while the boat is underway.

She carries a crew of 8 and in rough weather can take the weight of 95 people on board.  She has a deck cabin with paraffin pressure cooker and below decks, a second cabin.
   
She has a comprehensive electrical installation including radio-telephony for which there is a separate compartment in the deck cabin, a loud hailer, a search light and a day and night signaling lamp. Very high frequency radio-telephony is fitted for direct communication with search aircraft. She carries a line throwing rocket pistol and has an oil spray to make smoother the water round the wreck.
 
The naming ceremony took place within what is now basin number 1 of Cluny Harbour with the platform party being seated within the fish market. With the new lifeboat moored facing the platform party, Lady Saltoun named the new Buckie lifeboat ‘Laura Moncur’ in front of a large crowd that had gathered to witness the ceremony.

The lifeboat, built at a cost of over £35,000, was paid for by the legacy of Miss L Moncur and a further gift from Miss J B Moncur. The remaining cost was made up from RNLI funds.
   

  This photograph shows Lady Saltoun being presented with a bouquet of flowers prior to the commencement of the naming ceremony.  The girl presenting the bouquet is Heather Innes daughter of John Innes, bowman and later 2nd coxswain of the lifeboat.

The official programme for the day is reproduced below

In the Chair – William Smith Esq,
Chairman of the Buckie Branch

Presentation of bouquet to
The Lady Saltoun
by
Miss Heather Innes
(Daughter of the bowman of the lifeboat)
The National Anthem
   
1) William Smith Esq., Chairman of the Branch opens the proceedings.
   
2)  Lieut. Commander M Robin, RMN., National District Inspector of lifeboats, describes the lifeboat.
   
3)  The Lord Saltoun, MC, a Vice-President of the Institution and Convener of the Scottish Lifeboat Council, hands over the lifeboat to the Branch.
   
4)   Dr P Reid, Vice Chairman of the Branch, accepts the lifeboat on behalf of the Branch.
   
5)  Vote of thanks to The Lady Saltoun, proposed by Provost J F Cameron, Provost of Buckie.
   
6)  Vote of thanks to all concerned, proposed by Provost John H Mackenzie, Provost of Findochty.
   
7)  Hymn: “Eternal Father, strong to save” (First and last verse)
   
8)  The Reverend J D Henderson, MA, BD, North Parish Church, Buckie, dedicates the lifeboat.
   
9)   Hymn: “O God, our help in ages past”   Benediction
   
10)  The Lady Saltoun names the lifeboat “Laura Moncur”
   
Music Selections by
The Band of R.N.A.S. Lossiemouth, H.M.S. Fulmar
Band Sergeant: R A Moore, Royal Marines
By kind permission of the Officer Commanding
Captain G C Baldwin, D.S.C. and Bar, R.N.

The singing will be led by
The Lifeboat Choir
Leader A. Black, Esq

Portessie Life-boys in attendance
Leader Alex. Coull, Esq  


First Call Out for Buckie’s New Lifeboat

Laura Moncur’s first service did not take place until 18th August 1962 when the lifeboat was called upon to assist in a search for wreckage following the ditching of an aircraft north of Lossiemouth.  The lifeboat went on however to carry out many notable services and in total saved 39 lives in her 23 years of service at Buckie.

  The naming of Buckie’s new lifeboat, the crew of the lifeboat are, left to right, Bowman John Innes, Alex Slater, Coxswain William Stewart, James Roy, Mechanic Jack Cole, James Murray and John Murray.



 
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