Cromarty Archive

Cromarty Lifeboat

Cromarty Lifeboat

Date Added: 15 March 2003 Contributor: Arthur Bird Year: 1962 Picture No: 324

The coxwain of the Cromarty Lifeboat was Albert Watson and the Engineer was John Watson.

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Groups: Cromarty Lifeboats


I suppose this lifeboat is the Lilla Marras. Today she is serving as a luxury, floating hotel-suite in Harlingen (the Netherlands).

Comment left on 06 August 2003 by Wybe van der Wal
The website mentioned by Wybe contains photos of the Lilla Marras Douglas and Will as she is now, including interior shots showing the luxury fittings including a wooden 2 person bath!

Another view of the lifeboat can be seen in picture #163.
Comment left on 06 August 2003 by Garve Scott-Lodge
This is actually a reserve boat (probably the RNLB John Russell) which was stationed at Cromarty on several occasions when the James McPhee was at Buckie for servicing. Comment left on 29 September 2003 by Clem Watson
Clem I think this reserve lifeboat could be either "RNLB W and S" or "RNLB Julia Park Barry of Glasgow" or "RNLB City of Edinburgh" or "RNLB City of Bradford11" - certainly one of that class and the picture I am sure is taken about late 60's when orange paint was first used. I would be very interested to know exactly which boat it is as I know the owners of the first and last one very well. Could you check the station records? Comment left on 14 December 2004 at 16:01 by Quinton Nelson
Clem Why doesnt Cromarty still have a lifeboat - isn't it just as necessary now as it always was? I remember how many brave rescues she made and I cannot understand why it has been deemed not needed. Please can you enlighten me? Comment left on 06 June 2005 at 22:50 by Mary Harrison
Mary, The situation back in 1970 was that my father was coming up to retirement as Coxswain, and there was a decline in shipping and fishing in the Inner Moray Firth, coupled with a decline in the Cromarty 'seafaring age' population, there was no potential crew available. After a coastal review by the RNLI it was decided to close the Cromarty Station. Then with the arrival of the'North Sea Oil' effect, bringing a resurgence in coastal shipping back into the Cromarty Firth/Moray Firth area in 1972, it was decided by RNLI HQ to re-establish the Station at Invergordon in 1974, where it still is today.

In addition, another Station was established at North Kessock, to meet the pleasure yachting/boating in the inner Moray Firth in the 1980's. Kessock has a fast inflatable lifeboat, ideal for the shallows near the
entrance to Inverness Harbour, and the Caledonian Canal.
Comment left on 07 June 2005 at 15:39 by Clem Watson
Thank you Clem for the info. Yes of course I can see what you mean and fully understand the logic behind it. I well remember the day the Lilla Maurice Douglas and Will was named it was a great day even for us kids. In my humble opinion I think its a shame that she had to go I've seen her as a Hotel Suite and grand as it is I dont think its a fitting end to such a grand old girl - just my feelings for what its worth. Comment left on 07 June 2005 at 20:52 by Mary Mackay Now Harrison
Clem i have come accross a postcard of this very picture and the writing on the stbd aft side is clearer than this one and it says Cromarty Lifeboat. I'm just wondering would a relief boat say Cromarty Lifeboat on it? Comment left on 23 June 2005 at 20:04 by Ronald Young
The PC displayed is unclear, but you are correct the reserve lifeboat would certainly Not have the words Cromarty Lifeboat on the stern. I've looked at the stern of this PC again and even checking the number of letter impressions, I can't pick out CROMARTY. I certainly remember this PC when produced and it had Reserve clearly written . We'll swap notes next time I'm down in Cromarty. Comment left on 23 June 2005 at 21:32 by Clem Watson
This is certainly a 45ft 6in Watson. I am almost certain she is marked "Reserve Lifeboat" but it's not easy to tell from the pic. If she is marked Cromarty Lifeboat then she must be the James McFee which was station boat at Cromerty from 1928 to 1955. If she is marked Reserve Lifeboat she isn't the City of Bradford as that boat was unique in having a frame built over the windscreen arrangement in front of the cockpit; the frame was used to drape a canvas sheet over for added protection for the crew, fitted when she was still station boat at Humber. She isn't the Julia Park Barry of Glasgow or the City of Edinburgh as they were of the later 46ft 0in Watson design which had a modified 3-piece windscreen and funnel. Given the list provided by Quinton it therefore seems likely that she is the W&S which was a Reserve boat from 1960 until being sold out around 1968-69. She is now a yacht. Comment left on 19 April 2006 at 12:59 by Tim Kirton
Ahoy there! Not sure how active this site is but if there is anybody there (?) I would like to ask for any further info about the reserve lifeboat. I am writing a book about the W&S which came north after 30 years at Penlee, Cornwall. I would really like to use this picture (even if its name is not 100% agreed). Does anyone have a decent repro of the original postcard they could email to me. Any image or factual info about W&S at Cromarty would be gratefully received. With best regards. GE Comment left on 06 January 2019 at 14:24 by Graeme Ewens
Hi Graeme the site is very active. If you want any info on the boat speak to Clem Watson as his father was Coxwain of her. He can be contacted through this site also Arthur Bird who submitted this picture can also be contacted through this site. Comment left on 18 January 2019 at 15:43 by Ronald Young
Thanks Ronald.
Dear Clem Watson (what is the forename of your father who was Coxswain?)and Arthur Bird who submitted this picture.
As mentioned I am writing abook about the long history of W&S. I have all the service records and personal recollections from 30 years at Penlee and at several Scottish stations including Cromarty.The boat is now being restored in Harwich by ex-LOM Capt Rod Shaw and we aim to publish during her 90th anniversay year in association with Penlee Lifeboat.
"From July 1963 until November, 1964 she was stationed at Cromarty, with one launch on July25 (R928) and no lives saved. [The Cromarty station, opened in 1911, was closed down in 1968, and later replaced by the nearby Invergordon station which opened in 1974.]"
I would be grateful if you could shed any light on that shout and any other points of interest during her time with you. Could you also supply a photo of the stations's service board showing that service?
Any info of any sort would be appreciated and credit given in the final book.
With thanks and regards
Graeme Ewens ([email protected])
Comment left on 24 January 2019 at 13:05 by Graeme Ewens
Hi Graeme. Albert Watson was Coxwain of the Lifeboat here and his brother was engineer. The Lifeboat boards are in the East Church and if there isn't pics of them on this site I will get some for you. If you type Lifeboat in the search box you will find plenty of pictures of the Cromarty Lifeboats. I have a picture of W&S at the ferry berth in Cromarty Harbour I will look it out for you. Comment left on 29 January 2019 at 18:52 by Ronald Young
The Lilla Marras was a Watson Cabin 45ft? class with a later enclosed cabin similar to the larger Barnet 54ft class.
As a matter of interest I think Albert's Endeavour was built in Larch by some Watson family members'. The Endeavour was built in Burma of triple diagonal skin Teak for the Admiralty as a Liberty rowing boat. Used by one of the Dreadnoughts maybe even the Natal!
Comment left on 30 January 2019 at 20:19 by Dennis Manson
The Lilla Marras, Douglas and Will was a 46ft 9jn Watson, the 45ft motor powered Watsons were a very different design dating from the 1920s.

The Barnett class was a larger version of the 46ft 9in Watson at 52ft rather than 54ft.

The Watson class lifeboats were so termed because they were originally designed by the RNLI’s Chief Naval Architect, George Lennox Watson who was born in Glasgow in 1851 and became a hugely respected naval architect in the 1870s. Watson’s first RNLI design came out in 1893. Watson himself died quite young in 1904 but his original Lifeboat design was then evolved gradually by his boat building company, G L Watson Ltd. and became larger, fitted with engines and grew more powerful over the following 60 years. G L Watson Ltd. designed their last Watson class boat, the 47ft Watson, in 1955. After this the RNLI’s new naval architect Richard Oakley designed the self-righting 48ft Oakley class in 1963 to supersede the Watsons
Comment left on 31 January 2019 at 23:36 by Tim Kirton
Am afraid I made a typing error with the last comment.The Enterprise was built of Larch. If I remember correctly (which is difficult)construction was undertaken just east of the slaughter house where the sailing/rowing fishing boats were beached. Comment left on 01 February 2019 at 12:20 by Dennis Manson
Dennis I was told that Enterprise was built at the factory Buildings in Marine Terrace. Comment left on 02 February 2019 at 12:54 by Ronald Young
Ronald, Thanks for the W&S photo. I don't do Facebook but Elaine from Penlee picked it up. I hope you can let us use it in the book, with a credit. Regards
Comment left on 14 February 2019 at 00:09 by Graeme Ewens
I believe my Dad was rescued by the crew of the Cromarty lifeboat in the late 1950s. The crew rescued the men from the MV Servus. Can anyone give me further particulars please. I believe the lifeboat were decorated for this rescue. Many thanks. Comment left on 03 March 2024 at 13:47 by Mary Eames
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