A NORTH-EAST lifeboat station is set to celebrate 150 years of saving lives from the grip of the sea.
The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) established its Peterhead station on the east side of the North Harbour in 1865.
Over the past 150 years intrepid crews have made more than 1,000 rescues in the North Sea.
And David Martin, head of lifeboat operations at Peterhead Lifeboat Station, said the station is working on plans to commemorate its special birthday.
He said: “Plans are in hand to mark the opening of the station and this will coincide with the first service of the lifeboat.
“The station plays a vital part in sea rescues around our coast and is a link for others.
“All rescues can be dangerous and great credit is due to the men and women that man our lifeboats.”
A significant event in the station’s history was a Boxing Day lifeboat disaster, which claimed the lives of three crewmen.
An Evening Express report on December 26, 1914 detailed how hundreds of people watched, powerless to act as the tragedy unfolded.
At 11am that day, a Hull trawler called the Tom Tit sought refuge from hurricane-force winds in Peterhead’s South Harbour.
But spectators watched in horror as the trawler was thrown on to a notorious rock known as the Horseback.
The Alexander Tulloch lifeboat was launched and guided towards the harbour entrance but it was caught by the sea and dashed against a slipway.
Three Peterhead fishermen were lost in the incident – James Geddes, Thomas Adams and David Strachan.
In 1940 the Peterhead Lifeboat Julia Park Barry braved horrendous weather conditions to rescue more than 90 survivors over more than nine hours from four boats off the North-east coast.
The vessel was called out on October 30 to attend the S.S. Lisbon, a steamer carrying general cargo from Lisbon to London that had ran aground off Rattray Head.
The lifeboat rescued all 30 crewmen before rescuing a further 23 men on board another steamer carrying wheat from Canada.
Due to the fierce weather conditions the boat was forced to turn and leave 16 men on board but hours later managed to return and save them.
In January 1941, the late coxswain John McLean was awarded the RNLI’s Gold Medal for saving the crews of three cargo vessels wrecked in Peterhead South Bay at the height of a blinding snowstorm and 105-mile-an-hour winds.
This was the first gold medal to be awarded by the institution in Scotland in the previous 104 years.
The lifeboat station celebrated a century of life-saving on June 26, 1965 when it received the Centenary Vellum.
A crowd of more than 300 watched the station pick up the honour outside the old station at Greenhill.
In 1980 the boathouse was extended and in 1988 the new Tyne class lifeboat Babs and Agnes Robertson was placed on service.
In more recent times, in January 2005, crew member Stephen Ritchie was awarded a Testimonial on Vellum from the Royal Humane Society for diving into the harbour and rescuing one man after two fishermen fell into the harbour.
Stephen, who was 19 and a probationer, dived into the south harbour in icy conditions after hearing a splash as two fishermen fell into the harbour while returning to their trawler.
He had been driving past the harbour at the time and immediately went to the aid of the two men, rescuing one but unable to locate the other man.
He said at the time: “I don’t regard myself as a hero – not in the slightest.
“I’m sure anyone would have done the same had they been in my position.
“I just remember that it was absolutely freezing.
“It’s certainly been an experience and I’m only sorry that I wasn’t able to help the other guy.”