The first lifeboat in Portrush was delivered in December 1860, it was initially named ‘Zelinda.’
The vessel, 30ft long, weighing two ton required six to ten strong oarsmen to propel it.
At that time, Portrush was a small but well established fishing town and a growing tourist destination.
‘Zelinda’ had been sent as a gift by the Royal National Life Boat Institution -RNL(B)I- courtesy of Laura Cecilia MacDonnell, Countess of Antrim.
Laura’s late husband, Hugh Seymour McDonnell was the 4th Earl of Antrim. Laura was highly respected in the Earl’s estate and she took a great interest in the towns within it.
Not long after ‘Zelinda’ arrived in Portrush, the RNLI considered moving it to a new station in Greencastle.
This news was not well received amongst the people of Portrush and a protest meeting was held on 7 January 1864 in the Antrim Arms Hotel (later the Northern Counties).
Leading the campaign, in support of Lady Antrim, was the town’s Presbyterian minister, Rev. Jonathan Simpson.
It was a short campaign, but in the face of several protest meetings spearheaded by the considerable influence of Lady Antrim and Rev Mr Simpson, and a torrent of letters, the battle was won.
However there were two conditions laid down by the Life Boat Institution – the Portrush Lifeboat Station would have to be reorganised and Mr Simpson would have to take over the critical position of Honorary Secretary, today’s Operations Manager.
The name of the first vessel was changed in 1870 to ‘Laura’ in recognition of Lady Antrim’s pivotal role in the creation of the Portrush Lifeboat and in 1985 the station’s first inshore lifeboat was named ‘Jonathan Simpson’.
Today Portrush and the surrounding community are tremendously proud of its Lifeboat crews, the men and women who voluntarily go to sea in often terrible and appalling conditions to fulfil that noblest of acts for their fellow men and women – the saving of lives at sea.
They have done it several hundred times since 1860 and been awarded several gallantry medals as a result and saved many, many lives.
All members of the crew are volunteers and part-time, with the exception of a professional, full-time coxswain.
The Old Lifeboat Station Timeline
After much deliberation, a new boathouse is erected by the Lansdowne slipway.
This building is eqipped with a long metal slipway and electric lighting to assist with launches and recoveries.
It houses the new lifeboat, Hopwood from 1902-1924.
A silver medal is awarded to Robert Lemon for his attempts to save the crew of the ss Corsewell in April.
The first motor lifeboat arrives at the station.
T.B.B.H is a 45ft Watson cabin however it does not spend long in the Lansdowne Shelter as plans are underway to move back to the Western harbour.
A new boathouse is erected on the West side of town.
The old boathouse at Lansdowne is purchased by the Portrush Urban District Council and used as a public shelter for the use of crowds on rainy days. It is also provided with public toilets.
During the Second World War the building is used by the various military units billeted in the town as a store for ammunition and explosives.
The boathouse becomes home to a number of vintage vessels belonging to the local Maritime Heritage Group.
Substantial money is spent restoring the
boathouse, removing the toilets from inside the building and improving its structure.
A side extension and information board are added to the site.
Expressions of Interest are invited to lease the shelter.
Deadline – 12:00 Noon, 5th June 2015
Kevin moves in & the concept of Shanty Bites & Brews is born.
Shanty opens to the public serving Takeaway Coffees, Brunch & Light Bites.
After a busy first season, Shanty closes its doors for renovations to begin inside the Shelter
The Pod arrives at Lansdowne and the Shanty Pop Up opens over the Easter Holiday Period.
Shanty celebrates their First Birthday.
The long awaited Grand Opening arrives.
Shanty once again opens the Big Red Doors, this time as a fully licensed Restaurant serving Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner.