Celebrating five decades of Kinghorn Lifeboat Station

Kinghorn Lifeboat Station
Kinghorn Lifeboat Station

Kinghorn’s first inshore rescue boat was formally established on June 26, 1965 in response to the rise in people enjoying spending leisure time by the sea after the Second World War.

And, within 24 hours of launching the new service, it was in action. The next day in the Firth of Forth, dinghies gathered at Granton for a day’s racing in favourable conditions at the end of which many sailed back to their various clubs. One of these was the catamaran ‘Venus’ which set course for a run across the Forth to Kinghorn. As its crew passed Inchkeith Island the boat lost its mast. Charlie Tulloch senior, a founder member of the lifeboat crew, was watching from the shore at Granton and spotted the dinghy’s difficulties. Telephone calls were made and the lifeboat crew was summoned by firing two maroon flares over Kinghorn.

When the lifeboat first arrived in Kinghorn it was launched by hand

Charlie Tulloch

So the inshore boat’s first “shout” came about. The Inshore Rescue Boat IRB 64 was hauled on a two-wheeled trolley across the soft sand and its two crew, George Tulloch (25), brother of one of those stranded on the catamaran, and Davie McLaren (21) set off.

They soon reached the drifting dinghy which the crew was trying to repair, and legend has it that the catamaran’s crew fought off the lifeboat crew with their paddles as they were determined not to be rescued. It was all in good fun, and the lifeboat shadowed the catamaran safely to Kinghorn. Since that day Kinghorn lifeboat has become an integral part of the village, with all its crew living and working in the immediate area, just a phonecall away from a rescue.

It was six years before the station got a working radio, prompted by a rescue involving a Wessex helicopter from RAF Leuchars having to be in contact with the lifeboat using MIME.

There was no electricity in the small wooden garage that housed the lifeboat, so the radio was taken home and kept charged until needed. The crew had to wait on its arrival before they could go out to sea. In rough seas crew members had to cradle the precious equipment against them while trying to stay on the bouncing craft.

Since then the lifeboat has had two new homes, with the most recent opened in 1995.

In July of 1985 a twin engined ‘C’ class lifeboat was accepted at the station and soon proved it’s worth. At a cost of £6000 and considerable work by crew members, a Marley garage was built on the tank top, adjacent to the east end of the harbour.

Kinghorn lifeboat has been a real family affair over the years. Often family members are in the operational team while others raise funds for the charity. In Kinghorn the Tulloch family have been mainstays of the station. Brothers George, Charlie, Gordon and cousin Bill followed Charlie Tulloch senior into the organisation and now George’s son, Ian is a member. Charlie Tulloch volunteered for 44 years, from day one until his retiral as lifeboat operations manager in 2009. And wives Joan and Mary served many years on the fundraising committee, raising thousands of pounds for the cause.

When talking of the early days, Charlie said that he “never saw a book, and all the training was done on the water,” a far cry from today’s crew. The RNLI’s training has always fitted the nature of the boat and its call outs.

He added: “There is a world of a difference between the simple structure of the original, single engine Inshore Rescue Boats and the station’s current boat which came on station in 2009.

“When the lifeboat first arrived in Kinghorn it was launched by hand, and you had to get wet while doing so. It wasn’t like the current boat, where they have dry-suits, gloves and even seats in the boat!”