History of the James & Mary Walker

Considerable deliberation took place before the James & Mary Walker lifeboat was deemed to be a worthy successor to Royal Stuart. A public enquiry was held in Cellardyke Town Hall on 21st March, 1903, at which the whole matter of boat suitability and crew confidence therein was given a thorough airing.

A four-man deputation was duly appointed to visit a number of lifeboat stations with a remit to indicate preferences for a suitable replacement lifeboat for Anstruther. Their choice, a non self-righting Watson Class lifeboat, was subsequently intimated to RNLI HQ, - together with some stipulations regarding the sailing rig and the suggestion to use sand plates for the hitherto narrow, cutting, carriage wheels which would now have to support extra weight.

The James & Mary Walker lifeboat was constructed in 1904 at Thames Iron Works , Canning Town, London Operational number 521. 38 feet long Watson Class with 12 oars double banked Lug sail & jib together with mizzen and aft thwart. This was the third Lifeboat to be stationed at Anstruther on the Firth of Forth, Scotland.

She arrived in Anstruther on 30 July 1904 on a horse drawn carriage, having travelled by rail from London. The current Lifeboat Station was constructed for the James & Mary Walker from where she was first launched at a naming ceremony on 10 September 1904.

After many years of use she was converted to a pleasure craft and named the Ishbarra and was sailed for many years before falling into neglect and was then left abandoned in a boatyard in Anglesey. In 2010, she returned home on Anstruther with transport assistance from the RNLI and temporary storage from Fife Council.

The Crew

The Anstruther Crew saved 46 lives between 1904 and 1933 and they became known as the “wooden boat with the iron men”

The first recorded service during which lives were saved by the ‘James and Mary Walker’ was that to the Danish vessel “Ansgar” on the 14th February, 1910. This vessel, a steamer of some 1300 tons gross, was bound, light, from London to Methil. Unfortunately her course across the Firth of forth was too far east, and the voyage ended not in Methil harbour but rather abruptly on the rocky shore between St. Monans and Elie…..the crew were alerted at 2345hrs and after a dramatic exit from the harbour  Coxswain Sutherland got the lifeboat to the distress position about 0300hrs and relieved the ‘Ansgar’ of her 18 crew and a dog after dropping down on the weather side of the steamer. Anstruther harbour was regained at 0400hrs the same morning!      




Just Giving

James & Mary Walker Restoration