Past Lifeboats

A timeline of the lifeboats stationed at Penzance, Newlyn and Penlee

Click on the lifeboat name for further details and images



 Name           Built    Builder          Service         Class         Comments                                        
   Penzance - no official station building (Kept in any available space kindly donated)
 N/A No name  1803 Greathead 1803-1812 Original 27 feet (8.2m) long by 10' beam. Rowed with 10 oars
 N/A No name  1825    1826-1828 Plenty  24 feet (7.3m) long. Pull and Sail Lifeboat
 N/A No name  1853   1853-1856 Peake 30 feet (9.1m) long by 8' beam. Rowed with 10 oars Pull and Sail Lifeboat
   Penzance - Timber lifeboat house (located in current Railway station car park)
 N/A No name  1853   1856-1860 Peake First lifeboat house in Penzance built adjacent to railway station 1856
 N/A Alexandra  1860   1860-1862 Peake Smaller design 6 oars and 8 crew. Named after princess Alexandra of Denmark (Married to the Prince of Wales)
   Wherrytown - bottom of Alexandra road
 N/A Alexandra  1860   1862-1865 Peake Moved to Wherrytown c.1862 after failure to launch to the aid of the Saint Prospere
 N/A Richard Lewis  1865   1865-1884 Self righting  
   Penzance - Wharf Road lifeboat house
 49 Dora  1884   1884-1895 Self righting The opening of the new lifeboat house on Wharf road in 1884
 378 Elizabeth & Blanche   1895   1895-1899 Self righting
 424 Elizabeth & Blanche II  1899 Chambers & Colby of Lowestoft 1899-1908 Watson Lowestoft type W, powered by 12 oars and sail. She was 38' long and 9' 6'' beam
 341 Cape of Good Hope  1892   1908–1912 Self righting Penzance station became reserve 1908
 386 Janet Hoyle  1896 Woolfe Co.  1912-1917 Self righting  Penzance station closed 1917
   Newlyn Harbour - Lifeboat kept under tarpaulin sheet next to harbour (No boathouse)
 424 Elizabeth & Blanche II  1899   1908-1913 Watson Moved to Newlyn Harbour following failure to launch in Penzance on 01/11/1907 to the Thames sailing barge Baltic that went aground on St. Clement's Isle just outside Mousehole Harbour
   Penlee Point Lifeboat house and Slipway
 424 Elizabeth & Blanche II  1899   1913-1922 Watson  
 671 The Brothers   1922   1922-1930 Watson 45'
 736 W and S  1930   1930-1960 Watson 45'6"
 954 Solomon Browne  1960   1960-1981 Watson 47'  
 987 Charles H. Barrett (Civil Service No.35)  1965   1981-1982 Clyde 70' Relief lifeboat based out of Newlyn harbour
 866 Charles Henry Ashley  1949 J.Samuel White of Cowes 1981-1982 Watson 46'9"  
 926 Guy and Clare Hunter  1954 J.Samuel White of Cowes 1982-1983 Watson 46'9" Previously at St Mary's and Fowey, transferred on to Padstow; sold in 1988
   Newlyn - New mooring position placed in harbour with crew assembly building
 1085 Mabel Alice  1982   1983-2003 Arun (52-24)
 1265 Ivan Ellen  2002   2003 - present Severn (17-36)
B-753 City of Bradford V  1999 Inshore Lifeboat Centre, Cowes 2001-2002 B - Atlantic 75  
B-787 Paul Alexander  2002 Inshore Lifeboat Centre, Cowes 2003-2016 B - Atlantic 75
B-893 Mollie and Ivor Dent  2016 Inshore Lifeboat Centre, Cowes 2016 - present B - Atlantic 85
   Other relief Lifeboats stationed at Penlee
 687 B.A.S.P   1924 J.Samuel White of Cowes 1940 Watson 46' Reserve fleet lifeboat on station in the 1940
 579 Thomas McCunn  1933 Groves & Guttridge of Cowes 1969 Watson 45'6" Reserve fleet lifeboat on station April-Aug 1969
 963 A.M.T.   1962 J.Samuel White of Cowes 1980's Watson Reserve fleet lifeboat on station in the 1980's
 950 Kathleen Mary  1959 J.Samuel White of Cowes 1989 Watson 47' Stored in the Penlee boathouse
 822 Jesse Lumb  1939 J.Samuel White of Cowes 1980 Watson 46' 2 services at Penlee in 1980 also for opening of the Mary Williams Pier in Newlyn by the Queen.
 847 Gertrude  1945 1975 Watson 46' Only 1 service at Penlee in 1975
 1058 Elizabeth Ann  1979 hull moulded by Halmatic Ltd  1999 Arun (52-11) 8 services at Penlee in 1999 between May and October
 900 Herbert Leigh  1951 J.Samuel White of Cowes 1984 Watson 47' On station at Penlee as a relief boat
 695 M.O.Y.E.  1926   1950 Watson 45' 2 services at Penlee in 1950 between July and November.
 1086 A.J.R. & L.G. Uridge  1983   2003 Arun (52-25)  
 1262 Beth Sell  2002 Berthon Boat Co. (Hull Green Marine)  2009-2010 Severn (17-33) 18 services at Penlee between August 2009 and April 2010.
 1081 Ralph and Bonella Farrant  1982 hull moulded by Halmatic Ltd  1984 Arun (52-22) Stationed at Penlee in 1984 (no services)
B-773 Duckhams 2001  2002 Inshore Lifeboat Centre, Cowes 2015 B - Atlantic 75 3 services at Penlee between February and April 2015
 1263 Osier  2002 Berthon Boat Co. (Hull Green Marine)   2016 Severn (17-34) 9 services at Penlee between February and June 2016
 884 St. Cybi (Civil Service No. 9)  1950 J.Samuel White of Cowes 1982 Barnett 52' Mk1 Relief lifeboat stationed at Penlee following the Disaster
 1160 Duke of Atholl  1990 William Osborne shipyard 1994 Arun (52-46) 5 services at Penlee between May and July 1994
 848 Millie Walton  1946 Groves & Guttridge, Cowes 1956 Watson 46' Relief lifeboat stationed at Penlee one service on 8th July 1956 to SS Yewcroft of Glasgow saving 10 lives
 1254 Volunteer Spirit  2001 Berthon Boat Co. (Hull Green Marine)  2018 Severn (17-27) 6 services at Penlee in June and July 2018





 top of page
Greathead 'Original' (1803-1812)


This is not an original photo of the Penzance lifeboat


In 1803 the First Lifeboat in Cornwall was stationed at Penzance. It was designed by Henry Greathead and known as his “Original” class lifeboat powered by 10 oars with a crew of 13, but also carried some extra rowers sitting 3 a-breast. The Lifeboat had no name and predates the formation of the 'National Institution for the Preservation of Life from Shipwreck' (NIPLS), so was independently managed and run. There was no 'Lifeboat house' for it, it was just kept in Penzance on any piece of wasteland that could be found.

The 150 Guinea cost (That’s approx. £125,000 in today’s terms) was paid by Lloyd's of London, the rest raised locally. Sadly just 9 years later, the lifeboat was sold, to cover the debt of the purchase, without ever being used in service.

 top of page



 top of page
No Name (1826-1828)


This is not an original photo of the Penzance lifeboat


In 1826 at a cost of 130 Guineas, paid for by the by the recently formed 'National Institution for the Preservation of Life from Shipwreck' (NIPLS) in 1824, a 24 foot long by 8 foot beam
“Plenty” class lifeboat with carriage. Again there was no 'Lifeboat house' for it, it was just kept in Penzance on any piece of wasteland that could be found.

This boat being slightly smaller than the 'Original class', the Plenty class were known as “Pulling and Sail” lifeboats as now the method of propulsion had progressed to oar and sail.

Sadly only on station for 2 years after being wrecked on 15th November 1828 whilst attempting rescue of the vessel Phoebe.

 top of page



 top of page
No Name (1853-1860)

In 1853 a 30 foot long 8 feet beam 10 oar Peake class Lifeboat was bought at a cost of £150, paid for by locals and the National Institution for the Preservation of Life from Shipwreck (NIPLS).

It was kept at several different locations around Penzance on donated land until a boathouse was built in 1856 at a cost of £88 paid for by the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) as the Institution was now known. The title was shortened and the prefix 'Royal' added in 1854 by Queen Victoria.

The new timber boathouse was located at what is now the entrance to the railway station (The roof is circled in this photo)

 top of page



 top of page

The Alexandra (1860-1865)


1860 saw yet another Peake class Lifeboat, this design was smaller being only 7 feet beam and much lighter at only 1 ton. Due to the size and weight the 'Alexandra' only required 6 oars and 8 crew.

To commemorate the marriage of the Prince of Wales to Princess Alexandra of Denmark the lifeboat was named “Alexandra” – the greatest honour of being the first named lifeboat in Mounts bay.

There was local controversy when the “Alexandra” did not launch on several occasions in 1862, and as a consequence, there was a proposal to move the lifeboat to Newlyn. This caused a huge reaction from the residents of Penzance. As a compromise the lifeboat station moved to Wherrytown in 1862. A new timber lifeboat house was built located near the existing Coastguard Station. The road leading away from the lifeboat station was named “Alexandra road” after the lifeboat.

The actual naming ceremony of the Alexandra didn’t take place until 1863 with a great procession through Penzance (see list on left)

 top of page



 top of page
The Richard Lewis (1865-1884)


The RICHARD LEWIS Lifeboat was stationed at Penzance from 1865 until 1884. This lifeboat, the best known of all those stationed at Penzance, achieved a glorious record of service. She went to the assistance of 15 vessels, saving a total of 85 lives. She was paid for by a gift from Mr.J.Chaimberlain of Birmingham.

Her first launch took place on November 22nd 1865, when she rowed to the aid of the brig RHEDERENDEN, on this occasion her assistance was not required.

She carried out her first rescue on November 24th 1865, when the 180 ton brigantine TOBACO, of Hamburg, ran ashore on Marazion beach in tremendous seas. The TOBACO was on route from Mexico to a Hamburg with a cargo of logwood. At daylight that morning, news of the TOBACO reached Penzance, and the RICHARD LEWIS was taken on its carriage to the scene.
There was a full tide and on arrival they found heavy seas breaking over the vessel. The crew had taken refuge in the rigging whilst the sea smashed against their vessel.
The RICHARD LEWIS was launched with difficulty through the run of the tide, and after a huge struggle, reached the brigantine. She successfully grappled with the vessel, and although nearly being thrown into her bows by one sea, managed to take off five of her crew. They broke an oar on landing, but the lifeboat was seized by a large group of onlookers on the shore, and pulled up to safety on the beach.

On January 11th 1866 the lifeboat was drawn by a team of eight horses to Hayle in order to help the St. Ives lifeboat save the crew of nine from the stranded s.s. BESSIE of Hayle. The long struggle of both lifeboat crews to reach the wreck were described at the time as "beyond praise"

On September 10th 1867 an important event in Cornish lifeboat history took place at Penzance. During celebrations to mark the opening of St Johns Hall, four lifeboats decked with flowers and ribbons, mounted on their carriages with their crews in cork jackets were drawn through the streets in procession by teams of horses. These were the RICHARD LEWIS of Penzance, the ISIS of Hayle, the MOSES of St Ives, and the new Mullion boat, DANIEL J. DRAPER, which was christened and launched that same day. Later that day these boats, together with the COUSINS WILLIAM AND MARY ANN OF BIDEFORD of Sennen, and the AGAR ROBARTES of Porthleven, took part in a rowing contest. The race was won by the Sennen boat, followed by the RICHARD LEWIS in second, and the ISIS in third place.

There was another similar rowing contest in 1869, however a fight broke out between the crews of the RICHARD LEWIS and the MOSES when rounding Gear Pole, allowing the Sennen lifeboat another comfortable win!                      

 top of page



 top of page
The Dora (1884-1895)



The “Dora” was a self-righting class (and now with an RNLI official sequential serial number of ON49). The Dora cost £363 was 34 foot long and 8 foot in beam with a crew of 13 and 10 oars.

A new boathouse built from Lamorna granite at a cost of £575 was to house the Dora. Located on Wharf road with a slipway nearby at the bottom of Abbey Slip for access to the harbour.

The lifeboat, launching carriage and lifeboat house were paid for by a £1000 gift from Henry Harvey of Launceston.

During her service she rescued from 10 vessels saving a total of 57 lives, the images show the rescue of the ‘Jeune Hortense' in 1888.

The Dora was sold on from the RNLI in 1895 but survived until the grand old age of 96 years when she was finally broken up in Ireland 1980.

 top of page



 top of page
The Elizabeth and Blanche (1895-1899)


The Elizabeth and Blanche Lifeboat took over from the Dora in 1895. Much larger than her predecessor, this boat rowed 12 oars which were double banked.

The Elizabeth and Blanche Lifeboat was paid for by a generous donation from Misses Smitheman of Guildford, Surrey. A second lifeboat bearing the same name (Also paid for by the same donors) was placed at the Penzance Station in 1899 as the design of the Elizabeth and Blanche didn't allow safe launching from beaches into heavy sea.

The Elizabeth and Blanche (1) went to the assistance of four vessels from 1896 to 1898, saving a total of 34 lives.

A photograph of the Elizabeth and Blanche crew in cork life jackets which was taken alongside the new lifeboat house at the bottom of Jennings Street, Penzance.

Thought to be taken in the late 1800's early 1900's it shows local man James Hampton sitting in rowing position number one, next to his crew mate who is standing holding the rope.

 top of page



 top of page
The Elizabeth and Blanche II (1899-1922)


The Elizabeth and Blanche (II) Lifeboat (ON 424) was paid for by a generous £750 donation from Misses Smitheman of Guildford, Surrey. The Previous lifeboat bearing the same name was also paid for by the same donors.

The Elizabeth and Blanche (II) Lifeboat was a 38' Watson class Pull and Sail boat with 12 oars (6 per side). Due to the sturdy design and the larger beam (9'6") it allowed additional space for spare rowers, but this made the lifeboat over 5 tonnes in weight.

She was stationed in Penzance between 1899 and 1908. She was then moved to Newlyn Harbour in 1908 following the failure to launch to the 'Baltic' that had run aground on Mousehole Island. The lifeboat was kept in Newlyn under a tarpaulin until the competition of the new slipway and elevated boathouse at Penlee point.

On Sat 30th September 1913 the Elizabeth and Blanche (II) was put on station at the Penlee slipway and she remained there serving the community until 1922, during which time she rescued from 7 vessels saving 23 lives, making her grand total including the previous locations 22 services and saving 104 lives.

The Elizabeth and Blanche (II) after being retired from service in 1922 planned to make a 3 year 38,000 mile world voyage starting in October 1925 as a pleasure craft with Empire Cruises, but never made it!

Click here for a story from the 1925 'the Children's Newspaper'

 top of page



 top of page
The Cape of Good Hope (1908-1912)

The Lifeboat “Cape of Good Hope” was stationed in the Penzance Lifeboat house replacing the Elizabeth and Blanche (2nd) following her recent move to Newlyn.

The “Cape of Good Hope” was slightly smaller at 34 feet long and weighed around 4 tons loaded weight.

Penzance now became a 'Reserve station' with Newlyn being the main station.

 top of page



 top of page
The Janet Hoyle (1912-1917)




The Janet HOYLE (ON386) lifeboat was built in 1896 by WOOLFE and was the second Janet HOYLE boat to be built. She served at Ayr from 1896-1910, Withernsea from 1911-1917, and finally at Penzance between 1912-1917. She replaced the lifeboat, CAPE OF GOOD HOPE, which was damaged in service at Penzance. The Coxswain, Mr Will NICHOLLS was invited to visit the Poplar depot to choose a new lifeboat for Penzance. He chose the pulling & sailing boat Janet HOYLE (2).

There were two other lifeboats called Janet HOYLE - Janet HOYLE (1) ON87 was built by WOOLFE in 1887 and served at Ayr from 1887-1896, Janet HOYLE (3) ON604 was built by THAMES IRONWORKS in 1909 and served at Ayr from 1910-1932.

Mr T. K HARDIE, of London, was the donor of all three lifeboats, donating the sum of £2000, but there is no further information on this benefactor at the moment. His generous donation is recorded in the Teesdale Mercury which covered a meeting of the RNLI Rewards Committee that took place on Wednesday 11th January 1888.

Some of the Janet HOYLE's history was supplied to Penlee by the Thames Ironworks Heritage Trust who are currently in the process of restoring the Janet HOYLE (3) ON604.
She was found in 2013 on a mudflat in Brightlingsea, Essex, and the owner sold her for a nominal fee (£1). Due to the high quality of the materials used, mainly Honduran Mahogany, and the high level of workmanship involved, this amazing lifeboat has survived over a hundred years of punishment.

The Janet HOYLE lifeboat was involved in two rescues whilst based at the Penzance station;
26th December 1912 - s.s TRIPOLITANIA
21st March 1913 - Stood by steam and sailing trawlers entering harbour.

In a letter, dated September 1959, Coxswain Will NICHOLLS recalls the launch to s.s TRIPOLITANIA as follows: "My most arduous lifeboat service took place in 1912. On Boxing Day, at 8.00 am, the Coastguard called at my house in Penzance. He brought a message that a steamer was drifting disabled across the Bay. Neither the Sennen or Newlyn boats could go out, and so the message was passed to me. A strong gale (90 m.p.h) was raging; shop fronts at Penzance were blown in and boats overturned in the harbour, Penzance Pier Head being under water. At 8.30 the boat was in the water, all reefs taken in, and away. I have often thought of the appearance of the Bay when I rounded the pier head. The seas were pitiless, and the first one aboard completely filled the boat. I remember thinking that this was my last trip! I thrashed about 8 miles, opening up all the Western land, and then, seeing nothing of the ship, came about, and edged towards Porthleven, where the broken sea was worse. I was, from there, signalled by green rocket to 'recall'
The vessel, s.s. TRIPOLITANIA, had gone ashore on Loe Bar, near Porthleven; and to judge the height of the seas, she was thrown at dead low water to twenty feet above high water. She remained there for years until broken up for scrap. There were only two lifeboats afloat on that day, my own, and the Plymouth boat, which was blown ashore in Jennycliff Bay inside the breakwater. The stemhead of my boat split from the planking, and the lovely paintwork smashed in spots into the drab first coat. She looked like a spotted leopard. Two of my men died on the following Thursday from pneumonia, which shows the terrible conditions we had to face on that service."

There is no record of what happened to the Janet HOYLE (2) ON386 after she was sold in 1917.

 top of page



 top of page
The Brothers (1922-1930)


'THE BROTHERS' Lifeboat (ON 671) was the first motor lifeboat to arrive at Penlee and was based there from 1922 until 1930. A Watson Class, she was the first to be fitted with the new 90 B.H.P. 6-cylinder engine. Her donors were the Misses Eddy of Torquay, who also provided the money for alterations to the boathouse and slipway made necessary by the larger lifeboat.

There is a plaque at the head of the Penlee Boathouse which records the extraordinary generosity of these three spinster ladies (see image).

RNLI records show that in 1919 the Misses Harriet, Amy and Charlotte Eddy, then living in Torquay, donated £7.500 (a huge sum in those days) to the RNLI in memory of their two nephews who were both drowned in an accident at Cambridge.

Many dignitaries attended the ceremony at which Miss Amy formally named the boat 'THE BROTHERS'. The lifeboat remained on station until 1931 and carried out many rescues.

Canon Trevor Lewis, Dean of Truro Cathedral, dedicated the boat with these words, " Let any man once see, on a stormy night, those lion-hearted fellows leaving home, wife and children, with nothing to gain and everything to lose"

"The sorrow of the sea is the brotherhood of man"

Her first service was January 3rd-4th 1923 . She was launched at 1.45pm and went to the assistance of the S.S DUBRAVKA, of Dubrovnik, which had anchored in a strong westerly gale after losing her propeller. The DUBRAVKA dragged her anchors to within 20 yards of the Runnelstone rocks, with waves breaking over her, the lifeboat managed to take off 27 members of the 31 crew on board.

On October 8th that same year she went to the assistance of the S.S CITY OF WESTMINSTER, of Liverpool, who had also struck the treacherous rocks at the Runnelstone. It was a very difficult operation, with the steamer rolling heavily in the ground swell, but the lifeboat managed to take off 35, whilst the remaining 25 were towed back to port in their own boats by the Penzance steam drifter, PIONEER.

She was transferred to Falmouth and sold in 1952, and is now working as a dive support boat in Dover.

 top of page



 top of page
The W and S (1931-1960)


The W and S, a Watson cabin type lifeboat, was the second motor lifeboat at Penlee and was stationed there between 1931 and 1960. She was built out of legacies received from the late Miss Winifred Alice Coode, and the late Miss Ellen Young, of Twickenham. Miss Winifred Coode had left her legacy for a boat to be built and launched in her name and Miss Ellen Young for a boat to be named Sidney Webb. The full names are inscribed on a plate inside the lifeboat, and it was named using the first initials of the two names. She was dedicated by the Vicar of Paul during a ceremony held on August 15th 1931.

The W and S is credited with saving 102 lives during her time at Penlee. Her first service took place only a few weeks after arriving on station, when she went to the assistance of the steamship Opal of Glasgow, bound from Antwerp to Cardiff. Her cargo of maize had shifted in heavy seas, causing a dangerous list. The crew took to the lifeboats, which were repeatedly swamped. One of the lifeboats, containing six men, capsized three times. The master of the OPAL was washed from the bridge, and together with the Chief Engineer was drowned. Both Penlee and Sennen Cove Lifeboats launched and made for the area. The W and S recovered the Captains body, and the OPAL herself floundered three miles Southwest of the Longships.

The W and S performed another gallant service on January 27th 1936 when she rescued the crew of the s.s, TAYCRAIG, of London. A report was received from the Coastguard giving warning that a ship was on fire near Gear Rock. The lifeboat made her way in a strong S.S.W gale and heavy rain to the TAYCRAIG, taking just 30 minutes. On arrival, with the aid of her searchlight, she discovered that the vessel was not on fire, but partially submerged. The crew of nine were on the fo'csle head and had set fire to a mattress to attract attention.

The TAYCRAIG had struck the rock in a heavy swell and was wedged by the stern. Coxswain Frank BLEWETT, to the right of the photograph, managed to bring his boat along the starboard side of the TAYCRAIG. The lifeboat was being flung about violently, so much so that the Master of the ship expected her to be thrown on his deck, but Coxswain BLEWETT kept her off with only minor damage. Choosing the right moment, seven crew jumped one by one into the lifeboat, one landed on the neck of the Bowman, a ninth fell into the sea, but was grabbed and dragged aboard.

The W and S returned to Penzance, arriving at 03.25. What made this rescue so remarkable was the fact that only one of the lifeboats two 40 h.p engines had been working. Coxswain Frank BLEWETT was awarded the R.N.L.I's Bronze medal for the bold skilful manner in which the rescue was performed.

In 1937 a radio transmitter and receiver was fitted into the W and S. Her mast was also replaced by a new 16ft signal mast. She was the first lifeboat at Penlee to be fitted with such equipment.

During the Second World War the station at Penlee performed a number of services to various vessels and casualties.

The first of these was on September 1st 1940, when the minesweeper, ROYALO, a former Grimsby trawler, blew up off Penzance harbour.

On 8th March 1941 the W and S brought ashore three wounded men from the s.s. MARGO, of Cardiff, which had anchored in the Bay, then put a doctor on board to attend to another severely wounded man.

On 18th December 1944,  a German submarine U1209, a 500-ton Type V11C U-boat struck the Wolf Rock and sank. She carried a compliment of 51, and the Commanding Officer, Oberleutenant zur See HULSENBECK, died of a heart attack on board H.M.C.S "MONTREAL". The W and S and naval vessels went to the rescue; the latter picked up 42 survivors. At the time of her sinking, according to the survivors who were then prisoners, the U-boat was pursuing an aircraft carrier.

At 4.15 p.m on 21st March 1945, the Penzance Coastguards reported that one, and possibly two, vessels required help nine miles west of the Lizard. At 5.30 p.m, in thick fog, the Penlee Lifeboat found the American steamer JOHN R. PARK, of San Francisco, sinking after being torpedoed by U-boat 399. Naval ships were standing by and had already rescued the whole crew of 76. Some of these had returned to the steamer to recover kit. The W and S and the Lizard Lifeboat, DUKE OF YORK, stood by whilst this took place. U-399 was sunk five days later off Land's End by HMS DUCKWORTH.

She was found in a field near Falmouth and because of its outstanding history was worthy of being salvaged and given a new lease of life. She was to move to Harwich in August 2013 to start the restoration process. Having taken the W&S back to the original planking and considering its age it is in good condition. 

When exposed like this you can see the excellent, in fact outstanding workmanship that went in at the time of building.  It is a credit to the shipwrights of that time, plus of course the Mousehole boys who looked after her

 top of page



 top of page
The Solomon Browne (1960-1981)




 top of page



 top of page
The Charles H. Barrett (Civil Service No.35) - Reserve fleet (1981-1982)

The Charles H Barrett, a 70ft Clyde Class Lifeboat was built in 1965 and was in service at Kirkwall and Clovelly. In 1981 it gave temporary cover over Christmas and the New Year for the ill-fated Solomon Browne whilst a replacement lifeboat was passaged to Penlee.

 top of page



 top of page
The Charles Henry Ashley - Reserve fleet (1981-1982)


RNLB Charles Henry Ashley (ON866), a Watson class, was built in 1949 by J.Samuel White of East Cowes, Isle of Wight. Costing £19,040, she was built from the legacy of Mr Charles Carr ASHLEY of Mentone, France.

Her first station was at the coastal village of Porthdinllaen, near Morfa Nefyn, North Wales, where she remained from 1949 until 1979. During this time she launched 151 times saving 89 lives.

The Charles Henry ASHLEY then became a relief lifeboat and was stationed at Penlee from 1981 until 1982, she then moved on to Fowey and was sold out of service in 1986. She was last reported as the pleasure boat Charles ASHLEY in 2008.

 top of page



 top of page
The Guy and Clare Hunter - (1982-1983)


Built in 1954 by J Samuel White, Cowes, Isle of Wight, Guy and Clare Hunter is a Watson Class lifeboat of timber construction and twin Ford Mermaid engines, model 595.

She served at the St.Mary's Station on the Isles of Scilly from 1954 to 1980 and was involved in many high profile rescues including the Torrey Canyon disaster in 1967, where the 'Guy and Clare Hunter' and the Penlee Lifeboat 'Solomon Browne' assisted by 'Standing by' for several days whilst the salvage teams attempted to refloat the tanker.

She took up duties at the Penlee Station in 1982 after the loss of the 'Solomon Browne'.

When she was replaced at Penlee in 1983 she went on to Padstow. Finally sold on from the RNLI in 1988 as a pleasure cruiser.

Today the 'Guy and Clare' hunter is the only 46.9 foot Watson lifeboat afloat in completely original service condition.

 top of page



 top of page
The Mabel Alice (1983-2003)


Built in 1983, the hull was moulded by Halmatic Ltd and the boat fitted out by William Osbourne, Halmatic, W.A Souter, Fairey Marine & Berthon Boat Co.

Arriving on station on the 8th of May 1983 at a cost of £350,000  paid for by donation of retired Radio Rentals owner Mr David Robinson and named after his wife “Mable Alice”. Packed full of the latest electronic technology, radio, direction finders, radar with crew and 2 survivor areas fitted with comfortable seating.


The large watertight cabin gave it self-righting capability. Two survivor cabins are situated below decks where first aid and emergency equipment is stowed. The hull is divided into 26 watertight compartments as protection against sinking should it be holed.


There is also a flying bridge above the main cabin with an auxiliary steering position which can be used when additional height or visibility is required during an operation. The boat won a Design Council award in 1982. Fitted with two Caterpillar 3408TA 485HP engines and fuel tanks having 620 gallon capacity which gives an operating range of 250 nautical miles and a top speed of 18knots.


The Mabel Alice was designed to stay permanently afloat and not to be launched from a slip way like the previous lifeboats, this meant that it could not be launched from the slipway at the station at Penlee point and a new station was built at Newlyn Harbour.



Images: Top - Mabel Alice on mooring in Newlyn Harbour. Mid - Access via punt on running mooring. Bottom - First service to aid of the Rayon de Soleil, a crabber from Morlaix, France (10/5/83), image courtesy of  Laurence Hartwell 

 top of page



 top of page
The City of Bradford V (2001-2003)


The City of Bradford V is an Atlantic 75 class and is part of the RNLI’s relief fleet, operating at lifeboat stations when their own vessel is being repaired or having a refit.

Funded by an appeal and named in Bradford city centre in 1999.

The City of Bradford V was stationed at Penlee between 2001 and 2003 following the closure of the D-class lifeboat station located on St.Michaels Mount. A new lifeboat house was built in Newlyn harbour to house the inshore lifeboat and she was launched on a cradle into the harbour.

 top of page



 top of page
The Ivan Ellen (2003-Present)




 top of page



 top of page
The Paul Alexander (2003-2016)


The B-Class Atlantic 75 inshore lifeboat, Paul Alexander, arrived at Penlee in 2003 replacing the City of Bradford V. During her service at Penlee she proved invaluable for quick response to smaller craft and assisting swimmers, and people in distress. Another vital role was to assist the Severn Class, 'Ivan Ellen' to safely bring large vessels into Newlyn harbour as due to their size, the tow cannot be 'Along side' and the Paul Alexander regularly acted as a 'Brake' taking a stern rope from the stricken vessel.

The Paul Alexander left Penlee in August 2016 but whilst on station launched on service 377 times and clocked up an amazing 21 lives saved with 310 people assisted. A truly remarkable record, a credit to the RNLI at Penlee and the donors, Mr and Mrs Archer who must be very proud of this lifeboat's achievements.

The Paul Alexander is now part of the RNLI's reserve fleet and continues to save lives.

 top of page



 top of page
The Mollie and Ivor Dent (2016-Present)


The Mollie and Ivor Dent was built at the Inshore Lifeboat Centre, East Cowes, Isle of Wight, at a cost of £215,000. Her build costs were funded after a generous legacy from the late Mollie Dent, a lifetime supporter of the RNLI from Newbury, Berkshire.

She replaced the Atlantic 75 Inshore Lifeboat, Paul Alexander, on 12th August 2016. The Atlantic 85 class lifeboat carries four crew members, is powered by two 115hp engines and has a stronger hull and greater top speed. On board is a full suite of communication and electronic navigation aids, and the added radar allows the crew to operate more effectively in poor visibility.

The RNLI constructs up to 60% of the lifeboats it needs in its own purpose-built facility at the Inshore Lifeboat Centre in East Cowes. Fifty lifeboats are now constructed at the centre each year, while up to 200 are serviced and refurbished.

 top of page



 top of page
B.A.S.P. - Reserve fleet (1940)



The B.A.S.P. lifeboat, a Watson Class, built in 1924 by White, J Samuels & Co Ltd, was powered by petrol engine and sail. Christened by the Prince of Wales, B.A.S.P being the initials of the donors, BLACKBURN, ARMSTRONG, SMART, and PRICE, was the first lifeboat on the Isle of Wight, and arrived at the Falmouth Station in 1934.

B.A.S.P came to the Penlee Station as a Reserve lifeboat in 1940. She was involved in one service,on 17th March 1940, when she gave help to the S.S.Miervaldis of Riga.

Between 1947 & 1951 she was stationed at Valentia Island, one of Ireland's most Westerly points. The B.A.S.P retired in 1951 and is now preserved at the RNLI historic lifeboat collection at the Dockyard, Chatham.

 top of page



 top of page
The Thomas McCunn - Reserve fleet (1969)



RNLB Thomas McCunn (ON 759) is a Watson Class lifeboat which was stationed at Penlee as a relief lifeboat from April to August 1969.

During this time at Penlee she launched on service 7 times, saving 3 lives. She is pictured (Top picture) coming up the slip at Penlee boathouse with Coxswain Jack Worth on the stern, and crew member Jack 'Slim' Wallis hauling up the rudder. Head launcher, Micky Bartlett is seen on the slip.

Thomas McCunn was previously stationed at Longhope in Orkney, Scotland from January 1933 until April 1962. During which time she launched on service 101 times and saved 308 lives. Built by Groves & Guttridge of Cowes at a cost of £7,120 in 1933, she was a twin-engined, Watson class, Length: 45’ 6" Beam: 12’ 6" Draft: 4’ 6" Speed: 9 knots , non-self-righting lifeboat.

After Thomas McCunn left Longhope she was placed in the reserve fleet for a few years before being sold and used as a pleasure boat.

Also pictured launching from Penlee (middle 2 pictures) and engaged in Lifeboat Day demonstration off Penzance Promenade (Lower picture). The little girl in the Breeches Buoy is Elaine Bawden, daughter of crew member, Nim Bawden.

In 2000 she was bought by Longhope Lifeboat Museum. The Thomas McCunn is now the centre of a display in the old slipway at Brims and is still launched on special occasions.

 top of page



 top of page
A.M.T. - Reserve fleet (1980's)

RNLB 'A.M.T.' ON 963 a Watson Class lifeboat which was in service between 1962-1989.

She was built by J.Samuel White, of Cowes, Isle of Wight, and saw service at Howth from 1962-1986. During this time she was launched on service 198 times and saved 83 lives.

This photo was taken at Penlee Boathouse during the 80's when she was in the Reserve fleet after she was replaced at Howth. She was in the relief fleet and at the time the RNLI used the Penlee boathouse to store relief Watsons.

 top of page



 top of page
Kathleen Mary - Reserve fleet (1989)

RNLB 'Kathleen Mary' ON 950 a 47ft Watson Class with self-righting conversion. Formerly the Newhaven Lifeboat she cost £34,500 to build and was the gift of an anonymous donor in memory of Kathleen Mary Haddock.

She made 245 launches - 123 lives saved in her service from 1959 - 1977.

She was in the Reserve fleet when this photo was taken in 1989 and only stored in Penlee boathouse until assigned relief duties elsewhere.

She launched to perform a joint display off the Promenade with Penlee Lifeboat RNLB Mabel Alice. The bungs hadn't been put in so she started sinking...

 top of page



 top of page
Jesse Lumb - Reserve fleet (1980)


RNLB 'Jesse Lumb' ON 822 was built in 1939 by Messrs JS White of Cowes, Isle of Wight at a cost of £9,000. She is a twin screw Watson Cabin - type lifeboat, powered by two Barracuda Diesel engines each developing 65 bhp. Maximum speed 8.8 knots. She was built of double-skin mahogany, diagonally planked. The funds were provided out of a legacy from the estate of Miss A. Lumb of Huddersfield and the lifeboat was named in honour of her brother. 'Jesse Lumb' was based at Bembridge, Isle of Wight from 1939 to 1970. Her first Bembridge launch was on 16 August 1939 and her last on 9 November 1969. She saved 280 lives. In January 1970 she entered the RNLI's reserve fleet and served at various stations around the country. In 1980 she was a reserve lifeboat at Penlee and was involved in two services;

16 October 1980 - Injured man on board the French Trawler 'Roch Blanche'. Took out Port Medical Officer, Dr Mike Hersant and vessel was escorted back into Newlyn. This was Coxswain Neil Brockman's first shout on a lifeboat.

24 November 1980 - Fishing vessel 'Silver Harvester' of Penzance. Took Doctor out.

On retirement from the RNLI she was acquired by the Imperial War Museum and moved to the Duxford site.

 top of page



 top of page
Gertrude - Reserve fleet (1975)


RNLB 'Gertrude' ON847 was a reserve lifeboat stationed at Penlee in the summer of 1975. She was involved in one service, on 8th June 1975, when she went to the assistance of the MFV Margaret Ann, saving the boat and 2 crew members.

'Gertrude' is a Watson class lifeboat, 46 feet long x 12 feet beam weighing 21 tons. She is one of the last traditional 'Open aft cockpit' lifeboats to be built. Originally powered by twin Ferry 40hp diesels and also had the windscreen removed and a wheel shelter added.

This lovely lady is now privately owned in Mevagissey. She saw service at Holy Island, Exmouth, Sheerness and finally Fowey. Sold on from the RNLI in 1982.

 top of page



 top of page
Elizabeth Ann - Reserve fleet (1999)

The RNLB 'Elizabeth Ann' covered Penlee between May and October 1999 during which time she attended 8 services.

An Arun Class lifeboat, formerly stationed at Falmouth between 1979 and 1997 (also returned as relief lifeboat in 1998 & 2001). She has twin 460hp Caterpillar diesel engines giving her a top speed of 17 knots. Cost £250,000 to build and whilst in service at Falmouth attended on 252 services, assisting 129 persons and saving 52 lives.

The Elizabeth Ann was retired from service in 2001 and was sold to the Royal Coastal Patrol in New South Wales, Australia, where she initially served as Sydney Harbour Lifeboat before being relocated to become the Ulladulla Lifeboat. She was renamed P&O Nedlloyd Encounter         

 top of page



 top of page
Herbert Leigh - Reserve fleet (1984)


The Herbert Leigh, a Watson class lifeboat, was on station at Penlee as a relief boat in 1984.

She was built in 1951 and was the longest serving lifeboat in Barrow Station, from 1951 up to her replacement in 1982. In 30 years service she was launched 136 times and saved 71 lives.

She was donated to the RNLI by the chairman of Leigh's Paints, Herbert Leigh. On retirement she was stored as a reserve lifeboat by the RNLI Shipyard R. McAllister & Son, Dumbarton.

In 1990 she was donated to the Dock Museum, Barrow-in-Furness. In 2006 following restoration she was moved to a display at the front of the Museum.

Photo provided by Rob Cooke via Penlee Facebook page.

 top of page



 top of page
M.O.Y.E. - Reserve fleet (1950)



RNLB M.O.Y.E, a Watson Class lifeboat was built in 1926. Costing £7,614 she was financed through the legacies of Mrs Julia S. MANBY of Middlesex, the Misses Jane Catherine and Jemima L. OWEN of Bodowen, Caernarfon, Mr William YATES of Shipperton and Mr Frederick W.N. LLOYD of Bromley.

Her naming ceremony took place at Porthdinllaen Lifeboat House, Anglesey, on the 12th August 1927. The M.O.Y.E was the first motor powered boat on station and remained there until 1949.

Between July and November 1950 the M.O.Y.E was stationed at Penlee as a Reserve lifeboat and was involved in two rescues, both connected with the retired warship HMS Warspite;
15th July 1950 - Salvage vessel BARNET, landed 5 from tug FREEBOOTER.
11th Nov 1950 - Tug MASTERMAN, of Falmouth, stood by.

The trawler BARNET, which was being used by the salvage company attempting to tow HMS WARSPITE from the rocks at Prussia Cove, became holed when tied up to the wreck overnight. On casting off, her engine room was found to be flooded. The Admiralty tug FREEBOOTER came alongside and began to pump the water out, but it could not be controlled. FREEBOOTER removed those on board, and BARNET was allowed to drift ashore. When the Penlee reserve lifeboat M.O.Y.E reached the scene she was requested to land the rescued men at Newlyn.

The M.O.Y.E also stood by the tug MASTERMAN, of Falmouth, engaged for the WARSPITE salvage operation, which struck the Hogus Rocks near Marazion on November 11th 1950, in a full S.W. gale and heavy seas. Her sister tug TRADESMAN also received damage whilst trying to tow her. MASTERMAN was repaired with a cement box, whilst TRADESMAN had to be towed to Falmouth by the tug SUPERMAN.

 top of page



 top of page
The A.J.R. & L.G. Uridge (2003-2003)

The "A.J.R. & L.G. Uridge" (ON 1086) is an Arun Class lifeboat and was part of the RNLI relief fleet under number (52-25). The lifeboat was named after Albert John Richard Uridge, and his son Lionel George Uridge following a large donation from their family.

The A.J.R. & L.G. Uridge was in service for 1983 until 2003 and was the very next Arun class built and registered following our own 'Mabel Alice (52-24 / ON1085).

 top of page



 top of page
Beth Sell - Reserve fleet (2009-2010)


awaiting information


In service Aug 2009 - April 2010 (18 services) 

 top of page



 top of page
Ralph and Bonella Farrant - Reserve fleet (1984)

RNLB 52-22 'Ralph and Bonella Farrant'. Photo taken by Paul Yockney at Porthleven Lifeboat Day in 1984.

Named on 08/10/82 at Poole, she was in the relief fleet from 1982-94, Fenit 1994-99, Relief Fleet again 1999-2003, and went to China SAR in 2006 as 'Huaying 393' based at Fuzhou.

 top of page



 top of page
Duckhams 2001 - Reserve fleet (2015)

RNLB B-773 'Duckhams 2001', presented to the RNLI by Duckhams Oils, the inshore Atlantic 75 B-class lifeboat cost £81,600. 

Duckhams raised a total of £84,065 for the RNLI to pay for the lifeboat, through a variety of fundraising activities and corporate donations. The new lifeboat commissioned in 1999 to celebrate Duckhams' 100th anniversary and the RNLI's 175th, will replace the first one; the 'Alexander Duckham' donated to the Institution in 1974 to mark the 150th anniversary of the RNLI and the 75th anniversary of Alexander Duckham and Co Ltd.

 top of page



 top of page
Osier - Reserve fleet (2015)

9 services at Penlee between February and June 2016

Awaiting information

 top of page



 top of page
St.Cybi (Civil Service No. 9) - Reserve fleet (1982)

Built by J.Samuel White of Cowes, this 52' long 13'6" beam Mk.1 Barnett class lifeboat was stationed at Holyhead between 1950 and 1980.

On 2nd December 1966 the lifeboat St Cybi rescued five of the crew of a  Greek motor vessel 'Nafsiporos' which was in distress in a north-westerly hurricane with a very rough sea.

For this service Lieutenant Commander H.H.Harvey (VRD RNR), Inspector of lifeboats for the North West Area, was awarded the Gold Medal, coxswain Thomas Alcock and  Motor Mechanic E.S.Jones were awarded Silver Medals and Bronze Medals were awarded to: Second  Coxswain W.J.Jones, acting Bowman F.Ward, acting Assistant  Mechanic J.Sharpe and Crew  Members J.Hughes, D.Drinkwater & B.Steward. Awards for this service were also made to the Moelfre  Lifeboat.

The St.Cybi then became part of the RNLI's relief fleet between 1980 and 1985 before being sold on privately in 1986.

Following the Penlee disaster in Dec 1981 the St.Cybi was brought to Penlee and served for a short while until a permanent replacement for the 'Solomon Browne' was transferred to the station.

 top of page



 top of page
Duke of Atholl - Reserve fleet (1994)

Built in 1990, the hull moulded by Halmatic Ltd  and kitted out at the William Osborne shipyard.

Part of the relief fleet 1990-1999 and again in 2004-2008. Stationed at Weymouth in 1999 and  Hartlepool between 2003 and 2004.


Sold to Iceland SAR and shipped out late 2008 as Gunnar Fridriksson and based at Isafjordurr.

Photo: Derek Sands (June 2013)

 top of page



 top of page
Millie Walton - Reserve fleet (1956)

Photo: Edwina Reynolds


RNLI Douglas lifeboat being rehoused at Penlee Point, Mousehole.

The 'RNLB Millie Walton' which was based in Douglas, Isles of Man from 1946-1956 and then joined the reserve fleet, arriving at Penlee during the summer of 1956 to relieve the 'RNLB W and S'.

Penlee Coxswain, Eddie Madron, wearing his flat cap and fag in mouth, is leaning out of the cockpit holding the stern rope on the port side. 

1946–1956 - Douglas RNLI
1956–1974 - Amble RNLI
1974–1977 - Reserve Fleet

 top of page



 top of page
Volunteer Spirit - Reserve fleet (2018)


Awaiting info

 top of page