Orkney Image Library

<< back
Big lifeboats
The Orkney Image Library

Help us get organised! If we haven't correctly identified which area this picture is best listed under, please select it below and click Done!

view a random pic
Big lifeboats

The former Kirkwall lifeboat, Grace Paterson Ritchie (70-002) and the boat that often relieved her when she was away for maintenance, Charles H Barret (70-001). I believe there were only 3 or 4 of these 70 foot (hence the 70-, although the newer boats seemed to have their class given in meters) boats built, and they were the largest of the RNLI's lifeboats.
Picture added on 06 January 2006
This is the Grace Paterson Ritchie 70-002 and the Charles H Barrett 70-001
Added by Michael Brass on 07 January 2007
Were they Thames class lifeboats?
Added by Keith Dempsey on 13 February 2007
No, these were Clyde class lifeboats. The first two (pictured here) were built by Yarrow and Co in 1965 and 1966. The third in the class was built at Bideford in 1974. 70-001 is now used privately and is based in Holland. 70-002 is used privately and based at Largs. 70-003 is a charter boat operating out of Buckie, see www.geminiexplorer.co.uk.
The Thames class was a development of the American Coastguard boats that the RNLI first used in 1964. Only two Thames class boats were built, in 1973 and 1974, one being based at Dover and the other at Port Askaig, Islay. 50-001 is now a Pilot boat at Fowey. 50-002 is now based in New Zealand, still as a lifeboat. 002 successfully righted after a capsize off Islay in 1979. Both the Clyde and Thames classes were built of steel, but only the Thames was self-righting.
Added by Iain Crosbie on 13 February 2007
I wonder if they might have been the CLYDE class.
Added by Allan Besant on 13 February 2007
Thank you very much to both of you
Added by Keith Dempsey on 13 February 2007
Actually a fourth boat was built, she went to Trinity House as a light house tender.
Added by John Webster on 03 October 2008
I have talked to the son of the Clyde class designer, I have forgotten his name. The son was or maybe still is Hon Sec at a Lifeboat station somewhere, again can't remember. (Is this the start of Alzheimers!!) anyway he told me his father designed this vessel with a transom stern and hoped it would make considerably more speed than they made after the RNLI rejected the square stern and insisted they be made cruser stern.
Still I understand a hell of a fine vessel.
Added by John Budge on 03 October 2008
The fourth boat was built in Holland, and was for sale recently in Salcombe under the name "Lodesman". She differed from the RNLI designs in that she had twin rudders and a GRP deckhouse, but I understand she was just as successful as a pilot boat as the Clydes were as lifeboats!
70-001, 003 and the Lodesman's hulls were designed by Mr Oakley of the RNLI. 70-002 was designed by Tyrrell of Arklow, and it was Tyrrell's that wanted to give the RNLI a fast manouverable hull, however they wouldn't have it.
Yarrow's who built 001 and 002 subsequently designed a Mark II version of the Clyde, but this never got further than the drawing board as presumably by that time the RNLI realised that such a large vessel was not really practical, and the Aruns were then coming in to service.
Added by Iain Crosbie on 04 October 2008
Designer was a Mr John Tyrell (think that is the correct spelling) from Ireland.
Added by John Webster on 04 October 2008
The costs of construction of the three boats 001,002 and 003 is very interesting. 001 cost was circa £65k. 002 Circa £73k and 003 £168k. Given there was only 4 years between the three boats.

003 was the only one designed as a permanent live aboard vessel. She would lie in the lee of Lundy Island and head out on a shout from there covering the West coast from Lundy South.
Added by Pete Hizzett on 19 December 2013
I understand the cost of 003 was £68,000 and Sir Eric Yarrow is credited with the remark that these boats were the biggest donation he had ever made to the RNLI! Rather more than 4 years between 002 and 003. All three were designed as live-aboard cruising lifeboats, but the accommodation on 003 was much improved following experience of the first two boats, although perhaps she was rather more unwieldy to handle than 001 or 002 given the higher superstructure, greater displacement, lack of flying bridge and single exit from the (rear) of the deckhouse.
Added by Iain Crosbie on 16 January 2015
I am the only person, other than staff coxswains, to have been to sea in both the Thames and Clyde boats, the two rarest large offshore boats?
Added by David Hodgson on 19 December 2019
<< back


The Haven, BrimsHighland Park Distillery Visitor CentreHighland Park presentationHighland Park Distillery RetiralHighland Park Distillery TeamHighland Park still maintenanceHighland Park RetiralHighland Park distillery teamHighland Park RetiralKirkwall Fire Station boarded up for the Ba