RNLI winch launches for final time

Tommy Thompson operates the winch for the last time
Tommy Thompson operates the winch for the last time

KIRKCUDBRIGHT Lifeboat Station launched its 150 anniversary year with an historic farewell on Sunday.

On Sunday, using for the last time on excercise what is thought to be one of the oldest winches in the RNLI, Mr Tommy Thomson, Retired Lifeboat Crew member, launched the Kirkcudbright Inshore Lifeboat the ‘Sheila Stenhouse’. Tommy, whose long service stretched over 49 years, remembers the Clark Chapman winch being brought in by sea to the lifeboat station in 1962 where it was fitted by local engineer Andy Fairweather.

Over 50 years it has proved to be totally reliable launching the last four lifeboats stationed in Kirkcudbright The all weather lifeboats, ‘J.B. Couper’ and ‘Mary Pullman’ and the Inshore Lifeboats ‘Peter and Grace Ewing’ and the current ‘Sheila Stenhouse’. Sadly, due to new technology, it has to be replaced by an electric winch powered by its own generator.

The first winchman was Jimmy Smith, a local taxi driver who also drove the crews to the callouts before the RNLI supplied a landrover. When he retired the job was handed on the local blacksmith Tom Gibson, Tommy then took over and finally the job was passed on the John Collins who is the current mechanic and also Lifeboat Operations Manager.

It is hoped that the engine can be sold to raise money in this the 150th anniversary year of Kirkcudbright Lifeboat Station.

It is a Clark Chapman winch driven by 2 cylinder lister diesel engine. The winch drum is fitted with 59m of 22mm diametre steel wire rope. Drive is through a single speed mechanical gearbox. The winch only pulls in one direction it is gravity/mechanically pulled out.

The engine is electric start, but can be hand cranked if power is unavailable.

Further details can be obtained from John Collins Lifeboat Operations Manager

Tel: 01557331475 or e-mail Kirkcudbright@rnli.org.uk