Arts & culture

Arts and culture often go hand in hand, we take culture to mean the knowledge, experiences and beliefs that have been passed down through generations of our lifeboat community, sometimes just memories but often recorded in historical records and documents. For us, the arts refer to creative activities such as paintings, music, poetry, film, and dance that enhance or illustrate our culture.

Harry Berry’s spectacular paintings feature large in the museum.

Harry Berry 1905-1994

Local artist Harry Berry was born in London in 1905.  At the age of 15 he joined the Royal Navy. It was after the war that Harry moved to Lyness and married local lass, Jeannie Guthrie.

Harry was very involved with the Longhope lifeboat and although he sold many of his paintings to raise money for the RNLI. We are proud to have on display some of his sensational paintings depicting various rescues and lifeboats. 

He also experimented with plaster casting and created many interesting curios including decorative plates and quirky souvenirs.

Hair cut for Rob Johnston from Harry Berry with the first Longhope lifeboat station in background.

We also display works by other artists such as: Lifeboat Helen Comrie passing the Old Man of Hoy by Dan Shannon [on loan from Sir Jock Slater ] and the front cover of a Journal by Bill Mowat.

Lorna Heddle talks about how she always felt part of the Longhope Lifeboat family.

We have hundreds of interesting photographs and prints, both old and new, depicting Longhope lifeboats and personnel which we are in the process of digitising. Below, James Nicholson, crewmember on first Longhope lifeboat, photographer unknown, and left, Lorna Heddle first female crewmember by Mary Harris.

This beautiful ship’s wheel clock was made by Stuart Wylie and presented to the museum to Commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the Longhope Lifeboat Disaster. The wood is teak from part of the cargo salvaged from the Norwegian cargo ship Tennessee, which ran aground in Deerness on May 25 1940 after a collision with the British ship Baron Fairlie. The 8 spokes of the wheel represent the eight men lost.

Jeweller Zoe Davidson very kindly created an exciting range of jewellery of the highest quality to help the Longhope Lifeboat Museum raise funds for the 50th Anniversary and Commemoration of the Longhope Lifeboat Disaster. 

Silver Thomas McCunn cufflinks by Zoe Davidson

At a Peedie Cèilidh to raise funds for RNLI Longhope, a group of children performed the dance ‘Our Heroes’ which was written by Mabel Besant, for the pupils of North Walls School, to honour the Longhope lifeboat crews, both past and present. Each section of the dance cleverly represented aspects of lifeboat life with Leaving the pier, Ploughing through the waves, Team work and Guard of Honour all included closing with a celebration birl/spin at the end.

The Longhope Lifeboat by Ian Cruickshanks.

Longhope by Only A Ghost, a long-form song in the classic folk tradition, which tells the story of the Longhope Lifeboat Disaster of 1969.

We have an incredible collection of poems, mostly inspired by rescues and the loss of the T.G.B. In the future we would like to have a poem workshop both locally and online.

A poem written after the rescue of the steamship Manchester City.  The vessel and 52 lives were saved by Longhope lifeboat Samyntas Stannah in 1898.

Respectfully Dedicated for their Noble Work on 31st October 1898

They are no fancy regiment of spick and span brigade

They wear no brilliant uniform to march with on parade.

No pipe or drum to cheer them on when siccur work to do

‘Tis the music of the tempest song leads on the Lifeboat crew.

For the Lifeboat men are sea dogs of many a stubborn fight

They have faced the stormy Pentland in its majesty and might.

When the roaring face o’ Torness showed fight to the Nor’west

And every green backed roller had a white flaked foaming crest.

And sickly moon is waning across the murky lift

Watching bleak October’s dying gasp and shrift

A helpless barque is drifting down in a stormy lea

And over all is roaring the Anthem of the sea.

By Hoy’s grim rugged headlands, through breakers drift and foam

Battering with the tempest the Lifeboat struggles on

And barely are they striving, for down upon the lea

There are urgent signals flying. There is trouble on the sea.

Swirling streams the Pentland, against the Nor’west gale

The pine sticks bend and quiver to the billowing, close reefed sail

Down in the briny hollows where the rollers loom like clouds

And the Norland winds are singing through the Lifeboats dripping shrouds.

Stand by there lads for boarding, we must keep her on the tack

By Stroma’s swirling swelkie, past skerrie, rock and stack

While the surf sings on your beaches might oceans glorious Hymns

Remember, ay remember lads, that you are men o’ Brims.

Let us cheer the Aithhope Lifeboat and all her noble band

They have shed a brilliant lustre upon their native land

In days when you and I are gone t’will be a household tale

How the men of Brims crossed Torness race in that October gale.

R. Robertson    Master Mariner  1899