The Original Boatshed for housing the Lifeboat at Rhu Pier (1976)


Lifeboat Station Established in 1965

In 1965 the RNLI established an inshore lifeboat (ILB) station at Rhu Pier with a D class lifeboat (D-66). This lifeboat was provided by the Helensburgh Ladies Lifeboat Guild who were founded in 1952 by Lady Patricia Cunninghame-Graham. The lifeboat was kept in a sectioned plywood boathouse with a door at each end, the landward door to enable the lifeboat to be withdrawn for transportation by road to alternative launching sites. The boat was normally launched down the exposed beach into the mouth of the Gareloch.

The boathouse was located on the North side of Rhu Pier (as in the photograph below) until 1968 when it was dismantled and reassembled on the South side of the pier to allow the development of Rhu Marina to proceed. Dismantling, relocation and reassembly of the boathouse was undertaken by the crew in 1 day!


A prototype 'B' class lifeboat, known as the Atlantic 17, was placed on station for training and evaluation. The Atlantic 17, with a crew of two, was the predecessor of the B class Atlantic 21 lifeboats.

Boathouse before relocation in 1968

D-66 at Rhu Pier


D-132, the station's second D-class lifeboat, was finally withdrawn leaving Atlantic 17 class C2 as the station lifeboat.


In January 1978, with the new concrete boathouse complete, the Atlantic 17 class lifeboat (B-4) was withdrawn and replaced with an Atlantic 21 lifeboat, B-543. At this time, inshore lifeboats were not assigned names and were simply referred to by their Hull Numbers. B-543 was generously provided by the National Association of Round Tables.

The Boathouse - 1978 to 1997

Interior of the boathouse - like the floor!


The Atlantic 21 lifeboat Andrew Mason (B-581) was placed on station. The lifeboat was a gift from the late Mrs Janet Wilson Smith in memory of her brother, Andrew Mason.


A new slipway was built over the existing slipway to provide improved launching and recovery of the lifeboat.


A larger boathouse was built, providing improved crew facilities and housing for a larger B class Atlantic 75 lifeboat.

Slipway under construction

Current Boathouse


The Atlantic 21 lifeboat 'Andrew Mason' was withdrawn from service and replaced by the present Atlantic 75 lifeboat, 'Gladys Winifred Tiffney' (B-791), funded by a generous bequest from Gladys Winifred Tiffney.


The Atlantic 75 lifeboat 'Gladys Winifred Tiffney' (B-791) was withdrawn from service and replaced by the present Atlantic 85 lifeboat, 'ANGUS and MURIEL MacKAY' (B-903), funded by a legacy left by Captain Angus MacKay and his wife Mrs Muriel MacKay.

A charity registered in England and Wales (209603) and Scotland (SCO37736). Charity number CHY 2678 in the Republic of Ireland  I  RNLI (Trading) Ltd - 01073377, RNLI (Sales) Ltd - 2202240 and RNLI (Enterprises) Ltd - 1784500 are all companies registered at West Quay Road, Poole BH15 1HZ. Images & copyright RNLI 2008.