POINT of AIR LIFEBOAT LAUNCHES
in a NORTH-WEST GALE 26 January 1868
Shortly before one o'clock on the morning of Sunday 26 January 1868 Benjamin Evans, coxswain of Point of Air lifeboat, noticed a fire out on the West Hoyle sandbank. With his telescope he could see that a vessel was on the bank so fired the gun and his crew and launchers rapidly turned out. Then the horses arrived from Dawson's farm and the lifeboat was launched in half an hour into the heavy seas produced by a north-west gale.
The lifeboat got to the vessel at about 3 a.m. and took off Capt J. M. Tucker, the Liverpool pilot John Jones, passenger Alfred Nichol and ten members of the crew.
The vessel was the barque MERSEY which had left Liverpool on Thursday 23 January with a general cargo and was bound for Arica, Peru. Unable to make progress westward the barque was putting back to Liverpool when the strong gale drove her onto the West Hoyle at about 11 p.m. on Saturday. An hour or so later the crew began to set fire to their bedding in an attempt to draw the attention of those ashore. Three seamen and the steward had decided to attempt to get ashore in the boats but these were swamped and they were drowned.
The lifeboat got ashore with the thirteen rescued men at about 4.30. The lifeboat had then to be got back onto her carriage, rehoused and made ready for the next emergency. This was completed by 7.00 that Sunday morning.
For this excellent rescue the Mersey Docks and Harbour Board, which ran the station until the RNLI took over in July 1894, awarded double pay to the lifeboat crew.
Though you will find that the spot where this lifeboat station was is named Point of Ayr on the Ordnance Survey map the Harbour Board always spelt it Air.
Most of this article is derived from the Log of the Point of Air Lifeboat Station 1852 - 1894 which was transcribed from the original by Jeff Morris, Hon. Archivist of the Lifeboat Enthusiasts Society.