Lifeboat - History
RNLI Lifeboat House, The Strand,
Portaferry, Co Down, Northern Ireland
Station owes its origins to a RNLI lifeboat station
that was established in 1884 at the village of Cloughey,
On the East Coast of
Northern Ireland there are many hazards between Burr
Island and Killard Point. They include the South and
North Rocks, the Rig, the Butter Pladdy and half-tide
rocks off Ballyquinton Point.
As a result of the
large number of shipwrecks in the 19th Century it
was decided to establish a lifeboat station at Cloughey
(Cloghy) which at that time was a small coastal
village on the Ards Peninsula, Co. Down.
A lifeboat station
had been established earlier in 1865 at Ballywalter,
some 10 miles further north.
The Cloughey Lifeboat
Station was established by the RNLI in 1884 and its
first lifeboat was called 'The Faith', commissioned
crew of the Cloughey Lifeboat, 1908, after the rescue
of the 26 crew of the 'Croisset'. Front row
(seated on the four horse shafts): Jonny Young,
George Drysdale, John Young, Davy John Young, Robert
Young. Second row: Andy Young, Bob Young, Andy ( Lame
) Young. Third row: E Cupman (Coastguard Captain)
Robbie Young (Coxswain) John Beggs. Back Row:
Four unidentified Coastguards 3 of whom are believed
to be surnamed; Solway, Rose & Taylor.
(Note the four horse shafts for towing the lifeboat
on her carriage)
'The Faith' (ON94) was replaced by 'The
John' (ON 553) which remained on service until
1931 when she was moved to the Newcastle Lifeboat
Station, Co. Down.
were sailing and pulling (rowing) lifeboats and had
no engine. They were transported on a carriage pulled
by horses onto the beach at Cloughey for launching.
a self-righting motor vessel, the 'William Maynard'
(ON746) was sent to the station.
John' (ON825) replaced her in 1939 and she remained
on service until 1952 when Cloughey Lifeboat Station
received its last lifeboat, the 'Constance Calverley'
Calverley' remained in Cloughey until the station
closed in 1965.
harbour then became the anchorage for a new lifeboat
'Glencoe Glasgow' (ON857) where she remained
on service until 1978.
Lifeboat Station was officially closed in 1981.
1884 and 1978 the Cloughey Lifeboat was called out
on 152 rescue missions and saved no less than 311
The service record
boards of Cloughey Lifeboat Station have been preserved
and are on display in Portaferry Lifeboat Station.
For a more detailed
history of the Ballywalter & Cloughey lifeboats
Crew of the Cloughey Lifeboat, the Herbert John,
in 1950, following the rescue of the seven crew members
of the South Rock Lightship. From Left: David Thompson
(Hon. Sec.), Alex McNamara, Hugh Palmer, Jonny Gibson,
Billy Bell, George M Young (Coxwain), George Coffey
and Sam Adair. Photograph taken at the door to the
station with the Herbert John in the background
March 1962 - The Cloughey Lifeboat, 'Constance
Calverley' returning to rescue the captain of
the Dutch coaster 'Frida Blokzijl' after bringing
four of the vessel's crew safely ashore.
to the closure of Cloughey Lifeboat Station representations
had been made to the RNLI by Portaferry Sailing Club
and others to maintain a lifeboat service in the area.
With the introduction
of fast inshore lifeboats that were capable of making
way against strong tidal currents, (such as currents
up to 8 knots experienced in the Strangford Narrows)
it was decided, in 1979, to place a single-engined
'C' class lifeboat in Portaferry for evaluation.
The lifeboat quickly
proved to be a success and a twin engine 'D' class
was commissioned and the Station officially established
on 1st May 1980. The station was upgraded to 24 hour
all year operation in 1982.
1980 - Honorary Secretary,
Dr Billy Brown (centre) and Chief Helmsman, Desmond
(Dessie) Rodgers (far right) with visiting RNLI officials
in the old boat house
19th December that year a daring rescue was carried
out at night in winds which increased from Gale 8 to
Storm Force 10.
The casualty was the
yacht Frieda, aground at Jane's Rock, Strangford
Lough. One of the crew was rescued and a search for
the second crew member was carried out amongst the
pladdies in appalling weather conditions.
For their bravery
that night, Chief Helmsman, Desmond Rodgers, was awarded
the RNLI's Bronze Medal
and his crew members, Billy Ellison and Francis Rogers,
the RNLI's 'Thanks on Vellum'.
's "D" class, braving the weather in Strangford
Another memorable rescue
was that of the twelve persons on board the converted
fishing vessel 'Tornamona' which went aground
and later sank in the early hours of Sunday 26th May
1985. The vessel had been on her way from Portaferry
to the Isle of Man when she struck rocks near Killard
point, at the entrance to Strangford Lough.
Two of those on board
were world famous motor cycling champion Joey Dunlop
and his brother Robert. Also on board was a cargo
of eight racing motorbikes for use during the Isle
of Man TT races.
As the vessel began
to sink Portaferry Lifeboat arrived on scene to find
eight persons in a liferaft and four others still
on board. The Lifeboat took several persons to safety,
assisted by the 'Cuan Shore' which had been
on its way to the scene. Click
here for press coverage
In December 1986 an
'Atlantic 21' fast inshore lifeboat was presented
to the station by 'Blue Peter' a British Broadcasting
Corporation children's television programme.
Children from throughout
the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland raised
the monies to provide this and other 'Blue
May 1984 - Her Majesty The Queen Mother presents the
Institution's Bronze Medal to Chief Helmsman, Desmond
Rogers, at the Royal Festival Hall, London.
- Sir John Andrews, first President of Portaferry
Lifeboat station, congratulates RNLI award winners
Desmond Rogers, Francis Rogers and William (Billy)
new lifeboat was named 'Blue
Peter V' and with its close association with
children was launched with a bottle of milk by a 10
year old girl, Paula Trainor.
Paula was chosen to
launch 'Blue Peter V'
as she was a descendant of the 'Young family' of Cloughey
who had provided so many coxswains and crew members
for the Cloughey lifeboat over many decades.
1986, Paula Trainor (10) launched the first Portaferry
'Blue Peter' lifeboat, an Atlantic 21 named 'Blue
Peter V'. Paula is shown holding the RNLI Bronze Medal
(1924) of her great, great, grand uncle, Andrew Young
and the RNLI Bronze Medal (1939)of her great grand
uncle, George M Young.
1987 a lifeboat house was built, aided by monies raised
through the Belfast Newsletter's Lord Louis Mountbatten
During the following
years the station helped to pioneer the use of Decca
and GPS navigation on inshore lifeboats as an aid
to casualty location in poor visibility conditions
and put this experience to practical use on several
- Tim Vincent of BBC 'Blue Peter', who handed over
'Blue Peter V',
was presented with a photograph of Blue Peter V's
crew by Adam Simms (6) and Caroline McVea (9).
In 1994 a new Atlantic
75 inshore lifeboat, also named 'Blue
Peter V', replaced
the Atlantic 21.
One of the saddest
days in the history of the Portaferry Lifeboat Station
took place on the night of 27 December 1994 when a
small speedboat sank whilst on passage between Ballydornan
and Kircubbin. Six men were on board but
sadly only one survived. For more information about
the sad event please click here.
Records of all the
services ('Shouts') for the past 12 years can
be found on this web site. Please click
or click on the 'Rescues' page on the appropriate
'Blue Peter V' on exercise
6th June 2010 a new Atlantic 85 lifeboat was presented
to the Station by 'CBBC Blue Peter' and once again
named 'Blue Peter V'.
new lifeboat carries a crew of 4 and has updated electronics
such as radar and direction finding equipment.
addition a newly built and enlarged boat-house to
accommodate the larger lifeboat was opened.
new boat-house has updated training and crew changing
Atlantic 85, 'Blue
Peter V', is
the lifeboat currently on station at Portaferry RNLI.
Our new Atlantic 85 lifeboat,
our 3rd 'Blue Peter
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