Black Sunday 19th August 1848
Albeit Sir William Hillary founded the RNLI back in I824. it would be many years before this service provided a nationwide coverage. Wick, like many other coastal towns, would find no shortage of brave men ready to commandeer any available shoreboat and proceed to the rescue of a nearby vessel in distress.
As early as 1828 men from Wick were being awarded Medals for gallantry and bravery. Mr Andrew Lake was awarded the Silver Medal for his actions in saving some of the crew from the brig " St. Nicholas" which was wrecked near Wick earlier that year. Eleven years later during be night of be 23rd March the two hundred and seventy ton brig "Thomas Dougal" was driven onto the rocks ten miles south of Wick in a violent gale at four o'clock in the morning. A local man Mr Robert McAlistair got a crew of eight local men together launched a small fishing boat, and made their way through heavy seas and surf to the rescue of the stricken brig. Showing great skill and courage they managed to reach the wreck and rescued three of the Crew who were still clinging to the cross trees of the vessel's broken mast. The Captain of the brig and five of his crew perished on that. dreadful morning, the other four of the crew managed to jump onto the rocks and were hauled to safety by local people. Mr McAlistair received the Silver Medal from the RNLI for his outstanding bravery.
The crew of the oldham By kind permission of The Wick Society's Johnston Collection