Dunbar | Emergency services

Police | Fire Service | Coast Guard | Lifeboat


For many years West Barns had its own policeman and police house/station, located at Jessie Villa, Belhaven. In 1945, it was manned by PC James Aitchison and by 1950 PC John Cruikshank; he was followed by PC Dick King, and then PC Stanley McLean. The West Barns officer was incorporated into the strength at Dunbar in the late 1950s, and the building at Belhaven was sold c1970. Thereafter West Barns came under the same remit as Dunbar, as did much of the surrounding area (although there were two constables still based at East Linton until the mid-late 1970s).

There was previously a police station in Silver Street (where the cells were extant when the building was offered for sale c2000), and to c1960, police houses at the kirkyard gate. From 1951, Silver Street was closed, and the police service in Dunbar has been based at the station beside Castellau. From the mid 1970s, East Linton, West Barns and the landward area (including Whitekirk, Stenton, Innerwick and Oldhamstocks) were covered by the police from Dunbar. By the mid 1980s, police officers were no longer expected to live in police houses or approved lodgings within the community they served and new pay deals made allowance for this, since discontinued. By the mid 1990s, police accommodation was sold off, although some were retained for such as office accommodation, and by the end of the period, accommodation allowances ceased. During the construction phase of Torness, the force was supplemented by up to 30%.

Now cover is provided from Dalkeith when the Dunbar station is not staffed. In 2000, the staff at Dunbar consisted of one inspector (covering both Dunbar and North Berwick), one police sergeant, ten beat constables, four community officers and one traffic warden.

Police Inspectors based in Dunbar over the period included PI R. Paterson, PI J. Bain, PI H. Erskine, PI David White (1971-81), PI G. Meikle (1981-94), PI P. Dawson, PI Sharon Simpson, PI P. Bullen, and from 2002, PI R. Fruzynski.

Fire Service

The retained fire service provided by volunteers has been maintained throughout, during the earlier part of the period as the South Eastern Fire Service, and from 1975 as the Lothian & Borders Fire Brigade. A fire station was built at Countess Road, costing £4829; it opened 30 January 1958. Before this, the station was in Colvin Street and calls were received at the local gas works. In 1967, a radio system was installed – call sign ZF 40. A pocket alerter system came into use in 1974, and the radio call sign changed to ZF 691; this continues in use to date.

In 1949/50 the fire crew were: P. Brunton; J. Chapman; D. Edmond; A. Purves; A. Ramage; H. Smith; J. Smith; and P. White under Leading Fireman John B. Robertson. The last served as Sub Officer until 1969; other Sub Officers over the period were Alex Ramage (1968-72); William Low (1972-79); Andrew Smith (1979-83); Andrew Wallace (1983-92); Alec McIntyre (1992-93); Thomas K. Blair (1993-date).

Fire appliances used over the period included: 1950 Austin standard towing unit (GLE 33); 1951 Austin (GHX 584); 1958 Karrier tender (RFS 438); pre-1974 appliance (make unknown) (WFS 12); 1974 Bedford (CFS 131 L); 1982 Dodge water tender ladder (RFS25 V); 1986 Dodge mountain water tender ladder / emergency tender (D493 BSC); 2000 Scania water tender ladder / emergency tender (M134 XSF).

In 2004 the fire crew were: Graham Forsyth; Caroline Gourlay; Eddie Gray; Scott Hood; Alan Kerr; Scott Mabberly; Davey McCandlish; and Scott MacDonald under Leading Firefighter John Hannan and Sub Officer Thomas K.Blair.

Coast Guard

Since 1985, full-time coast guards have no longer been employed at Dunbar, but a volunteer auxiliary unit is still supported. The watchers were removed when the castle lookout was superceded during the 1970s.


Until 1996, lifeboats were based in Dunbar, but the harbour is less than ideal for launching them, and the lifeboat is now launched from Torness (see Innerwick parish). The old lifeboat house became a museum, but is now a RNLI shop, staffed by volunteers. The present Dunbar lifeboat the Sir Ronald Pechell Bt, was the first Trent Class boat in Scotland. It was formally handed over on 7 September 1996. The inshore rescue boat (I.R.B.), first used in 1968, is based at Dunbar.

Since its inception in 1946, the associated R.N.L.I. Ladies’ Guild has been a driving force in fund raising for the institution; in 1996 the lifeboat fete made around £5,000. In all, over £400,000 was raised locally towards the Sir Ronald Pechell Bt. In 1999 the 175th anniversary of the R.N.L.I. was celebrated at Dunbar.