St Andrews Lifeboat Station


Some people may not be aware that St Andrews had a lifeboat station at one time. David Fenton was a member of the lifeboat crew for 40 years and had been coxswain for 8 years prior to his retiral in 1938, when the station was closed down.

The last lifeboat, “The John and Sarah Hatfield” had attended many vessels in distress from 1912 – 1938, saving a total of 43 lives. The crew were all volunteers, mainly fishermen. The boat had no engine, the crew had to row. One of the rescues has been well documented, the wreck of the “Prinses Wilhelmina” in 1912.

However, there was a rescue which is not so well known which took place on 9th March 1931 in particularly hazardous conditions, during a blizzard. The steam trawler, “Loch Long” of Aberdeen had crashed on to Balcomie Rocks, near Fife Ness, in a snowstorm and northerly gale. The lifeboats from Broughty Ferry, Anstruther and St Andrews went to her aid. David Fenton was the coxswain in the St Andrews lifeboat which was the first to arrive. They managed to take off all ten members of the crew. The lifeboat went out at 2:30am and returned to St Andrews at 08:30am with the trawler men who were then looked after at the Cross Keys Hotel on Market Street.

In London on 13th May that year David Fenton was presented with the Bronze Medal of the Royal National Lifeboat Institute (RNLI) by the Prince of Wales, for his part in saving the crew of the “Loch Long”, “for gallantry and outstanding skill”.

On the night of the rescue the coxswain was two crew members short. From the crowd of around 200 which had gathered to help launch the lifeboat, Bob Henrit, a golf professional and Bob Duncan, Starter on the Eden Course, volunteered and made up the crew. All very brave men!

From our photographic archive by Pat Harvey (Photographic Archivist)