Longhope Lifeboat Thomas McCunn ON 759

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Thomas McCunn ON 759
Career British RNLI Flag
Owner: Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI)
Builder: Groves & Guttridge, Cowes, Isle of Wight.
Official Number: ON 759
Donor: Supplied by money gifted to RNLI from the legacy of Mr W McCunn of Largs
Station Longhope Lifeboat station, Orkney
Cost: £7120
Acquired: 1933
Decommissioned: sold in 1972
In service: 1933
Out of service: 1962
Fate: Now housed in the Lifeboat shed in Brims where she forms the centrepiece of the museum
General characteristics
Class and type: Watson
Type: non-self righting
Tonnage: 17 tons 9 cwt
Length: 45 feet 6 inches (13.87 m) overall
Beam: 12 feet 4 inches (3.76 m)
Depth: 5 feet 3 inches (1.60 m)
Installed power: Originally 2 Weyburn petrol engines Re-engined in 1973 with 2 Mermaid diesels. The last of the petrol engine LBs designed by Watson himself
Speed: 9 knots (17 km/h)
Notes: On 16th May 1999 The National Historic Ships Committee added the Thomas McCunn to the National Register of Historic Vessels (Certificate no 1515)

Thomas McCunn (ON 759) is a Watson class[1], lifeboat stationed at Longhope in Orkney, Scotland [2] from January 1933 until April 1962. During which time she was launched on service 101 times and saved 308 lives[1]. After Thomas McCunn left Longhope she was placed into the reserve fleet for a few years before being sold and used as a pleasure boat. In 2000 she was bought by Longhope Lifeboat Museum. The lifeboat is now at the centre of a display in the old slipway at Brims and is still launched on special occasions[1].

Design and construction

Thomas McCunn was built at the yard of Groves and Guttridge Ltd on the Isle of Wight [1]. Her hull is constructed using double diagonal planking of Honduras Mahogany on a framework of Teak ribs and beams with the stem and stern posts and her keel of English Oak. The stern and stem posts are grown to the required shape to give the lifeboat its strength and sturdiness. The Thomas McCunn was 45 feet 6 inches (13.87 m) long and 12 feet 6 inches (3.81 m) wide. The hull is divided into seven watertight compartments, of which the engine room is one. The hull is fitted with 142 mahogany air cases, all individually made to fit into its allocated position in the hull. Her equipment included the latest innovations of the time which included a line throwing gun and an electrically powered searchlight.


The lifeboat was originally powered by twin-engine Weyburn petrol engines, but was re-engineered in 1973 with 2 Mermain diesel engines. The last of the petrol engines was designed by Watson himself[1]. The lifeboat had a top speed of 9 knots (17 km/h)


The boat served from January 1933 - April 1962 at Longhope. During this time it was launched 101 times and saved 308 lives. From 1962 - 1972 it was a reserve-boat and has 8 launches with 7 savings during this time. In August 1972 the boat was sold and returned later to Longhope for display.



  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 [1] Longhope Lifeboat Thomas McCunn ON 759
  2. OS Explorer Map: Orkney - Hoy, South Walls & Flotta: Published: Ordnance Survey: ISBN 978-0-319-23998-8