Irvine Lifeboat

St Mark's Primary School

Irvine enjoyed a lifeboat service from 1861 to 1914 - with four boats during those years - the 'Pringle Kidd' of 1861, the 'Isabella Frew' of 1874, the self-righting 'Busbie' of 1887, and the 'Jane Anne' of 1898. This website contains a newspaper article on Irvine lifeboats by Mae McEwan, a page on the RNLI and Irvine in 1861, and a feature on David Sinclair, with more details of the awards to his crew and photographs of the medal. Over six incidents, 41 lives were saved, as documented by the Irvine Station noticeboards pictured at the foot of this page.

lifeboat 'Busbie' and crew

Irvine lifeboat in action

In 2013-14, the pupils of St Mark's Primary School adopted the Irvine lifeboat as a local heritage project, with a particular focus on the rescue, in December 1894, of the crew of the Norwegian ship 'Frey', for which the crew, under coxswain David Sinclair, were rewarded by the Norwegian government with medals. They researched lifeboats then and now, and the 'Frey' shipwreck. They were particularly pleased to see and touch one of the medals presented to the lifeboat crew - currently owned by local historian Mae McEwan, her grand-daughter Mhairi McEvoy was one of the class teachers involved.

The pupils of this school (pictured) also created personal responses to the lifeboat story. Here follows a selection of the work produced (with a link to a second page of their work), in photo and in video - reflecting the hard work and enjoyment of the pupils during the project. Congratulations to the St Mark's team for their excellent contribution to the Harbourside Heritage project.


Shakira Nelson reports:

The RNLI was founded on 4th March 1824 as the National Institution for the Preservation of Life from Shipwrecks.
The RNLI's lifeboats rescued an average of 22 people per day in 2011.
RNLI lifeboats launched 8,321 times in 2012, rescuing 7,912 people.
The RNLI lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved more than 140,000 lives since 1824.
RNLI lifeguards placed on selected beaches around the UK attended to 14,519 incidents in 2011.


  • Sea Rescue - sense poem by Rachel McAleavy - watch on YouTube
    I see the stormy sky and the crashing waves.
    I hear everyone crying and shouting for help.
    I feel tired, hungry and alone.
    I smell the salty and slimey seaweed.
    I taste the very salty sea water on my lips.
    I see my boat sinking and the sailors drowning.
    I hear the sailors shouting and screaming for help.
    I feel scared and worried but not alone.
    I smell damp, cold, clingy clothes.
    I taste the feezing and icy water on my tongue.
  • David Sinclair - an acrostic by Millie Toal - watch on YouTube
    Dangerous seas David Sinclair and the crew battled through.
    And he saved 43 lives.
    Very brave was he.
    It was the Firth of Clyde the terrific rescue happened.
    David Sinclair was a wonderful man.
    Silver medal all the crew got, but David got a gold medal.
    In the boat there were David Sinclair and the crew.
    None of the crew were trained; they were all locals.
    Caring for others he did.
    Lifeboat was the type of boat he was in.
    A rescue we will never forget he was part of.
    Irvine lifeboat station was the place he was asent out from.
    RNLI is short for the Royal National Lifeboat Institution.
  • David Sinclair - an acrostic by Abby Leckie - watch on YouTube
    David was a very brave man!
    A gold medal was awarded to him.
    Vicious seas raged!
    Immediately thought of others.
    David Sinclair was in the RNLI.
    Saved 16 people!
    Irvine Lifeboat Station is where the boat left from.
    Norway's King Oscar awarded the medal.
    Cares for others.
    Lives were saved by David.
    Always remembered.
    It was fantastic!
    RNLI stands for Royal National Lifeboat Institution.
  • Sea Rescue - sense poem by Josh Smith - watch on YouTube
    I see high, crunching, bubbly waves rise.
    I hear the crashing and thrashing of thunder and lightning.
    I feel the wavy, rocking boat going back and forward.
    I smell fresh, salty fish in the water.
    I taste the wet salt from the water on my lips.
    I see wooden sailing ships carrying their cargo.
    I hear the RNLI thumping and rumbling through the waves.
    I feel the wooden boat cracking and breaking in the water.
    I smell the dry, icy, salty air around me.
    I taste the thunderous rain running down my tongue.

More of the pupils' work >> (on a second page)


Boards from the Irvine Lifeboat Station

to left:
The 'Isabella Frew' was presented by William Somerville Esq. of Bristol
1876 Oct 6th Schooner 'Lady Mary' of Irvine - 4 lives saved
1882 Dec. 20th Steam Tug 'Irvine' of Irvine - 4 lives saved

to right:
The cost of the 'Busbie' was defrayed from a legacy bequeathed by the late H R C Wallace Esq. of Busbie and Cloncaird, Scotland.
1893 Nov. 1st Schooner 'Guiding Star' of Runcorn - 4 lives saved
1894 Feb. 26th Barquentine 'Caroline' of Belfast - 6 lives saved
1894 Dec. 29th Ship 'Frey' of Tonsberg - 15 lives saved
1897 Mar. 10th SS 'Texa' of Glasgow - 8 lives saved.

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