The Thomas McCunn

The Thomas McCunn is a 45’ 6” Watson class lifeboat (ON759) built for Longhope lifeboat station in Cowes boatyard of Messrs Grove & Guttridge at a cost of £7120 from a legacy that was very kindly provided by Mr William McCunn of Largs.

The Thomas McCunn is powered by two 40 BHP Weyburn CE4 petrol engines and also carried auxiliary sails in case of an emergency. Maximum speed 8.48 knots.

She arrived in Longhope in 1933 and served until 1962 launching 101 times and saving 308 lives. She continued in service with the RNLI at several other stations as a relief lifeboat. In 1972 she was sold to Mr Peter Spiers in 1972 who carried out a extensive refit on her and after some time sold her onto Mr Peter Roberts who then sold her to the Longhope lifeboat museum for £1. The Thomas McCunn was then collected from Hayling Island on the south coast and steamed to Longhope in Aug 2000. She visited several lifeboat stations on the way with Captain Fred Johnston, who had served on her as a boy, at the helm along with retired and existing RNLI Longhope personnel.

She is the only vintage slipway launching lifeboat in the country and is still launched on special occasions. Housed in her original slipway station the Thomas McCunn remains the focal point of our museum.

BBC Radio Orkney’s Around Orkney reports on the homecoming of the Thomas McCunn

images: Orkney Library & Archive/ Longhope Lifeboat Museum Archives / Graham Phillimore / Andy Fellows