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Penlee Lifeboat Station Newlyn Cornwall

Penlee Lifeboat Station Newlyn


Newlyn Lifeboat CornwallPenlee Lifeboat Station moved to Newlyn Harbour in 1983. The lifeboat, when not in use, can often be seen in the marina by the lifeboat station and lifeboat shop, on the edge of Newlyn harbour.

Before the move to Newlyn the lifeboat station was based at Penlee Point in Mousehole. Lifeboat Newlyn CornwallThe move to Newlyn came about following the tragic loss of the lifeboat Solomon Browne in 1981.

After the Solomon Browne tragedy, the RNLI received a donation of £350,000 to enable them to purchase a new Penlee Lifeboat. The new boat, the Mabel Alice, was a state-of the art Arun Class unequalled in its buoyancy, self-righting ability and speed. The new boat was designed to stay permanently afloat and not to be launched from a slip way like the previous Penlee lifeboats, this meant that it could not be launched from the slipway at the station at Mousehole and a new station was built at Newlyn Harbour.

The new lifeboat the Mabel Alice served at Newlyn for 20 years until she was replaced in 2003 by the Ivan Ellen a Severn Class lifeboat costing £1.8 million. The Ivan Ellen features the ultimate in high-tech electronic equipment including radar, radio and satellite and CCTV. In 2002 the Mabel Alice was joined by a new fast response inshore lifeboat the Paul Alexander an Atlantic 75 RIB, a fast response inshore lifeboat for use in shallow water.

The RNLI relies completely upon donations to keep the service going and to keep the lifeboats on call 24 hours a day 365 days a year. For information on becoming a member of the RNLI or volunteering ask in a lifeboat station or call 0800 543210.

Many of the stations have opening times where you can go in and see the magnificent lifeboats from the viewing gallery. Many have boards up displaying pictures of their crews, whose bravery on a regular basis saves lives. The lifeboat crew are all volunteers and the lifeboats funded by charitable donations. The alarm goes and the crew run from their jobs to attend the call and set off to the rescue risking themselves to save others. but is often overlooked by other than local news.

The Solomon Browne lifeboat tragedy

The Solomon Browne was the Penlee Lifeboat between 1960 and 1981. On 19 December 1981 tragedy struck the village of Mousehole when the lifeboat Solomon Browne and all her crew of 8 Mousehole men were lost during a brave and courageous rescue attempt in horrendous conditions. The crew set off to the rescue of the Coaster Union Star. The Union Star was experiencing engine failure eight miles east of Wolf Rock Lighthouse causing her to be heading towards the rocks, which if hit would mean the loss of her crew. The brave lifeboat crew knew the risks and danger they were facing before they set off in the rescue of Union star, the conditions were hurricane force and the risks so high that no two members from the same family were chosen.

The appalling weather conditions had made a helicopter rescue impossible. The lifeboat crew battled against hurricane force winds and 50 foot waves to get alongside the coaster. They made run after run to try to rescue the eight crew. Reports to the Coastguard of four being successfully rescued were received and then all communication was lost. No one knows exactly what happened but it is thought that on going back for those remaining on the Union Star tragedy struck and the lifeboat was sucked under the coaster. There were no survivors on either vessel. The lifeboat crew were awarded medals posthumously for their bravery.

The tiny community of Mousehole lost eight of its men that night. But just two days after the disaster, a whole new crew of volunteers had to come forward. This included the then 17 year old Neil Brockman, whose father had died on the Solomon Browne. Neil is now Coxswain of the Ivan Ellen.

The tragedy prompted a massive pubic appeal which raised money for the bereaved families. With it came heightened awareness of the risks that the volunteer lifeboat crews regularly take.

Flowers can be seen in memory of the crew at the now old Penlee Lifeboat station. The station still stands on the coast road from Newlyn to Mousehole but unfortunately for safety you cannot go in. There is information on the outside about the station.

Before the disaster many successful rescues were conducted by the Penlee lifeboat and lives saved in treacherous conditions. Medals have been awarded for the bravery of the crew.

One rescue was recently remembered by placing a a plaque on the Mousehole harbour wall to commemorate the rescue of the crew of the boat the Baltic rescued by the brave crew of the lifeboat Lady White on 1st November 1907. The plaque was erected by the family of Adam Robertson Torrie one of the men rescued, 100 years to the date of the rescue on 1st November 2007.