Gourdon Surf Boat
James (Jeems) Mowatt (1851-1920)
In 1890 at the request of the local fishermen, James Mowatt designed and built the double ended surf lifeboat, Maggie Law.
The new boat was ordered in mid March of that year, and delivered fully equipped with life saving equipment in May.
The vessel was named after the daughter of a local fish merchant, Tom Law.
Maggie Law was a shallow draughted boat of thirty feet, with a beam of six feet, clinker built, and capable of being launched quickly and working in and around the rocky harbour mouth.
The boat was rowed by six men, and in a period of service from 1890 to 1930,
saved 36 lives.
The cost of the boat was paid for by the fishermen of Gourdon, with every fisherman in the village donating his share.
The upkeep of the Maggie Law was also the fishermens’ responsibility, with each man giving a penny out of every pound of his gross earnings.
From a newspaper cutting dated 1st April 1897 we read, “There was put on the rails here last week a splendid example of a 48 foot long pleasure yacht, built to the order of Robert Ferguson, Loch Lomond. Designing and building has been completely in the hands of Hercules Linton, designer of the Cutty Sark, Naval Architect of Inverbervie.”
The obituary for James (Jeems) Mowatt dated Friday 3rd December 1920 states, “To the design of the late Mr Hercules Linton, Inverbervie, James Mowatt built two steam fishing boats, one for the Firth of Tay, and one that was afterwards used as a launch on Loch Lomond.”
It is likely that of all the boats built by James Mowatt, Maggie Law is the only survivor
In 1997 the Maggie Law Museum was opened to the public, and this panel is dedicated to the commitment and enthusiasm of the members of the community of Gourdon, who had the foresight to preserve the surf boat Maggie Law, as part of the rich maritime heritage of Gourdon and Kincardineshire.
The refurbished Museum was re-opened to the public on 12th April 2013,
by Dame Anne Begg MP, and a plaque dedicated to the fishing community of Gourdon was unveiled by William Munro, Area Manager, Kincardine and Mearns, on behalf of Aberdeenshire Council, main sponsor of the refurbishment of the Museum.
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