St Ives Lifeboat Station

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St Ives Lifeboat Station
St Ives Lifeboat Station viewed across the harbour.jpg
St Ives Lifeboat Station is located in Cornwall
St Ives Lifeboat Station
St Ives
General information
TypeRNLI Lifeboat Station
LocationWharf Road, TR26 1LF
CountryUnited Kingdom
Coordinates50°12′46″N 5°28′46″W / 50.2128°N 5.4795°W / 50.2128; -5.4795Coordinates: 50°12′46″N 5°28′46″W / 50.2128°N 5.4795°W / 50.2128; -5.4795
OpenedFirst boat 1840
Present building 1994
OwnerRoyal National Lifeboat Institution

St Ives Lifeboat Station is the base for Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) search and rescue operations at St Ives, Cornwall in the United Kingdom. The first lifeboat was built for the town in 1840 and the present boathouse was opened in 1994. It operates a Shannon-class all weather boat (AWB) and a D-class (IB1) inshore lifeboat (ILB).


St Ives is an historic fishing port in west Cornwall and offers a sheltered harbour for ships in the open waters of the Western Approaches. On 24 December 1838 the schooner Rival was trying to enter the harbour in a gale but came to grief on one of its piers; despite lacking proper rescue boats and equipment five people were saved after much courage and effort by the people ashore. A meeting was held and it was decided that a proper lifeboat should be built for the town. Francis Adams, a local man, had recently won a prize from the Royal Cornwall Polytechnic Society for designing a double-ended, self-righting lifeboat, and he was commissioned to now build one. The Hope entered service in 1840, assisting the Mary Ann of Poole during a storm on 7 April.[1] Hope had fallen out of use by 1860 so the following year the RNLI opened a new lifeboat station at Porthgwidden beach. It proved to be a difficult site to launch from and so in 1867 it was closed. It has since been used as a store.[2]

The replacement boat house was situated in Fore Street. This was used until 1911 when a new house was built on The Quay.[2] Nearby Hayle Lifeboat Station closed in 1920. The St Ives boat now covered a larger area, but this was made easier in 1933 with the arrival of a first motor lifeboat.[3] In 1964 an ILB was stationed at St Ives which was kept in a building in the Sloop Car Park on West Hill. These two boat houses were closed in 1993 when a new purpose-built house was opened at the landward end of West Pier.[2] In 2015 the 1993 boathouse was modified for the new Shannon class lifeboat and its Supacat launching rig. The work involved widening the main doorway, installation of a new fuel tank and upgrading of crew facilities.


On 31 January 1938 the motor lifeboat Caroline Parsons went out in aid of the SS Alba. 23 people were rescued but as the lifeboat turned to head home it was capsized by a large wave that came from the side. It righted but ran aground on rocks. The lifeboat Coxswain Thomas Cocking and his eight crewmen got ashore safely but five of the rescued men were lost. Cocking was awarded the RNLI Medal in silver and the rest of the crew received bronze medals, but a year later six of them drowned in another lifeboat wreck.[4]

In the early hours of 23 January 1939 there was a Force 10 storm blowing with gusts of wind at 100 miles per hour (160 km/h). A large steamship was reported to be in trouble off Cape Cornwall but the Sennen Cove lifeboat could not be launched due to the low state of the tide. At 3:00 AM the John and Sarah Eliza Stych was launched into the dark.[5] Along with Cocking were seven more men: John Cocking (his son), Matthew Barber, William Barber and John Thomas who had all been in the Caroline Parsons wreck, along with Edgar Bassett, Richard Stevens, and William Freeman.[4] The boat rounded The Island where it met the full force of the storm as it headed westwards. Off Clodgy Point it capsized but did what it was designed to do and righted itself. Five of the crew were in the sea; only Freeman made it back into the boat. The engine was restarted but the propeller was fouled and they drifted back towards The Island where they dropped anchor but the rope parted and it capsized and righted a second time; only three survived this time. The boat now drifted north-eastwards across St Ives Bay towards Godrevy Point where it capsized for a third time. When it righted only Freeman was left. He scrambled ashore when the boat was smashed on the rocks.[5] All eight crew members were awarded bronze medals.[6] Since then two more Tommy Cockings, the drowned coxswain's son and grandson, have served as coxswain on the St Ives Lifeboat.[7]


The lifeboat house is situated at the landward end of the West Pier facing a slipway into the harbour. Both boats are kept inside on carriages and launched with the aid of tractors. The building is built in local granite to blend with its surroundings. A large central portion houses the AWB. It is flanked by two wings, that on the harbour side for the IRB, the one on the town side is used as a fund-raising gift shop.

Area of operation[edit]

The Shannon-class lifeboat at St Ives has an operating range of 250 nmi (460 km) and a top speed of 27 knots (31 mph; 50 km/h).[8] Adjacent all weather lifeboats are at Padstow Lifeboat Station to the east, and Sennen Cove Lifeboat Station to the west. There is also an inshore boat to the east at St Agnes.[9]


All Weather Boats[edit]

Dates in service Class ON Op. No. Name Comments
1840–1860 Adams-class Hope Independent committee[1]
1870–1878 10 oared Covent Garden [5]
Exeter (In service in September 1880).[10]
Covent Garden (In service in February 1885).[11]
1899–1933 Self-righter ON 435 James Stevens No. 10 Used for boat-trips at St Ives[12] but was sunk in the Hayle Estuary on 30 December 2015.[13]
1933–1938 35ft 6in Self-righting motor-class ON 763 Caroline Parsons Wrecked.[14]
1938–1939 35ft 6in Self-righting motor-class ON 743 John and Sarah Eliza Stych Originally at Padstow; wrecked.[15]
1940–1948 Liverpool-class single engine ON 831 Caroline Oates Aver and William Maine Transferred to Ferryside and worked until 1960.[16]
1948–1968 Liverpool-class twin engine ON 861 Edgar George Orlando and Eva Child Reported working as fishing boat Eileena-Ann (LT317) at Kings Lynn in 2006.[17]
1968–1989 Oakley-class ON 992 37–21 Frank Penfold Marshall [18]
1989–1989 Oakley-class ON 984 37–17 Mary Joicey Undergoing restoration for display at Newbiggin-by-the-Sea, its first station.[18]
1989–1990 Oakley-class ON 973 37–06 Fairlight Originally at Hastings, reported working as a pleasure boat at Blakeney[18]
1990–2015 Mersey-class ON 1167 12–009 The Princess Royal (Civil Service No. 41)
2015– Shannon-class ON 1318 13–11 Nora Stachura [19]

Inshore lifeboats[edit]

Dates in service Class Op. No. Name
1964 D-class (RFD PB16) D-5 unnamed
1965–1966 D-class (RFD PB16) D-16 unnamed
1966–1967 D-class (RFD PB16) D-9 unnamed
1967–1977 D-class (RFD PB16) D-142 unnamed
1978–1987 D-class (Zodiac III) D-256 Lion Club I
1987–1997 C-class C-516 Belsize Charitable Trust
1997–2007 D-class (EA16) D-515 Spirit of the RCT
2007–2016 D-class (IB1) D-668 Colin Bramley Parker
2016 – present D-class (IB1) D-803 Donald Dean

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Leach, Nicholas (2006) [2000]. Cornwall's Lifeboat Heritage. Chacewater: Twelveheads Press. pp. 6–8. ISBN 0-906294-43-6.
  2. ^ a b c Leach, Nicholas (2006), p.45
  3. ^ Denton, Tony (2009). Handbook 2009. Shrewsbury: Lifeboat Enthusiasts Society. p. 60.
  4. ^ a b Leach, Nicholas (2006), pp.31–32
  5. ^ a b c Bray, Lena; Bray, Donald (1992) [1981]. St Ives Heritage (2nd ed.). Devoran: Landfall Publications. pp. 24–27. ISBN 1-873443-06-4.
  6. ^ "St Ives History". RNLI. Archived from the original on 27 August 2011. Retrieved 16 November 2010.
  7. ^ Kipling, Ray; Kipling, Susannah (2006). Never Turn Back. Stroud: Sutton Publishing. pp. 179–184. ISBN 0-7509-4307-6.
  8. ^ Wake-Walker, Edward (2008). The Lifeboats Story. Stroud: Sutton Publishing. p. 112. ISBN 978-0-7509-4858-6.
  9. ^ Denton, Tony (2009), p.68
  10. ^ "A French Schooner Ashore". The Cornishman. No. 115. 23 September 1880. p. 7.
  11. ^ "St Ives". The Cornishman. No. 344. 19 February 1885.
  12. ^ Denton, Tony (2009), pp.2–3
  13. ^ "James Stevens No 10 lifeboat sinks in Hayle Estuary". BBC News. Retrieved 31 December 2015.
  14. ^ Denton, Tony (2009), pp.16–17
  15. ^ Denton, Tony (2009), pp.14–15
  16. ^ Denton, Tony (2009), pp.18–19
  17. ^ Denton, Tony (2009), pp.20–21
  18. ^ a b c Denton, Tony (2009), pp.24–25
  19. ^ Gainey, Tom. "GALLERY: St Ives welcome in new lifeboat; Nora Stachura". The Cornishman. Retrieved 26 November 2015.

External links[edit]