Salcombe Lifeboat Station has operated an all-weather lifeboat for nearly 140 years and the crews have received 18 awards for gallantry. A recent addition to the station is an inshore B class Atlantic 75 lifeboat.
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The tragic loss on the 27th October 1916 of thirteen of the crew of the Salcombe lifeboat William and Emma was one of the worst disasters in the history of the RNLI and had a devastating impact on the town.
Salcombe RNLI’s all-weather and inshore lifeboats were both launched this morning at 2.10am following reports of an overdue shore fisherman.
The volunteers of Salcombe RNLI spent six hours at sea in challenging conditions yesterday (Monday 15 September) to assist with the rescue of a converted fishing vessel with four people aboard.
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Salcombe Lifeboat StationUnion Street Salcombe Devon TQ8 8BZ
Station opening times:
10am–4.30pm dailyDon't miss: Salcombe Lifeboat Museum
Parking, disabled parking, disabled access
Simon Evans (Lifeboat Operations Manager) or Chris Winzar (Coxswain)
Visitor contact telephone:
Shop opening times:
Specific crew member details for this lifeboat station are not available here at the moment.
More than 4,800 lifeboat crew members around the UK and RoI drop everything when their pagers go off, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
Only 1 in 10 crew members has a professional maritime occupation. Men and women of all ages and all walks of life crew the RNLI lifeboats around our coasts and waterways.
Lifeboat name: Joan Bate
Lifeboat class: B class (Atlantic 75)
Funded by: The generous bequest of Miss Joan Bate
Read more about the B class
Lifeboat name: The Baltic Exchange III
Lifeboat class: Tamar
Funded by: The Baltic Exchange with other gifts and legacies
Read more about the Tamar
Station established by Institution in 1869. Site for the boathouse at South Sands being presented by the Earl of Devon. The boathouse cost £309 10s.
1857Silver Medals awarded to coastguardsmen, William Wedge, James Turpin and David Warder for putting off in a small boat and rescuing at great risk of life two out of three people who had been capsized from their boat on Bantham Bar on 27 August 1857.
1870Lifeboat house constructed at South Sands, Salcombe at a cost of £285 on land supplied by The Earl of Devon.
1878Lifeboat station established at Hope Cove, provided by The Freemasons of England.
1897Slipway undermined by severe gale.
1907Albert Medal awarded to Hope Cove crew members Isaac Jarvis and Jack Argrat who rescued 117 people from Elder Dempster liner Jebba after the two men scaled vertical cliffs at Bolt Tail and rigged a Bosun's chair. A further 38 people were rescued by the remainder of the lifeboat crew.
1916On 27 October Salcombe lifeboat William and Emma capsized at Salcombe Harbour entrance drowning 13 of her crew of 15. The crew of the casualty, Plymouth schooner Western Lass, which had gone ashore to the east of Prawle Point in a furious gale was rescued by the coastguard but it was not possible to communicate with the lifeboat. One of the survivors from the lifeboat, Edwin Distin became coxswain of the replacement boat Sarah Ann Holden which arrived in April 1917. A new crew of 13 was readily available in spite of the war. Committee of Management voted £2,200 to local fund and £75 to meet immediate needs and paid funeral expenses. The names of those who died were J A Cranham, J A Crook, J H Cove, J A Cudd, F W Cudd, A Dustin, S M Dustin, P H Foale, P H Foale (Jnr), W J Foale, W W Lambie, T Putt, and A E Wood.
1922Salcombe lifeboat moved from South Sands to permanent mooring in harbour.
1925Salcombe Lifeboat Station closed.
1929Salcombe Lifeboat Station re-opened.
1930Hope Cove Lifeboat Station closed
1940Silver Medal awarded to Coxswain Edwin W Distin and Bronze Medals to each of the other seven crew members for the rescue of 62 survivors of the Belgian Steamer Tajandoen which was sunk by enemy action on 7 December 1939. They had been picked up by the Belgian Steamer Louis Sheid which herself went ashore in Bigbury Bay and the lifeboat took them off. This was a service in which the coxswain showed magnificent seamanship both in crossing the bar and alongside the steamer.
1944Bronze Medal awarded to Coxswain Edwin W Distin for the rescue in an easterly gale and very high sea of 11 people from the Admiralty Salvage craft LC18 in distress in The Skerries, east of Start Point, on 4 December 1943. The lifeboat launched at 2215 and found the casualty to be very high out of the water and dragging across the bank, rolling heavily. Coxswain Distin took the lifeboat right alongside four times before the 10 man crew could be induced to jump aboard.
1945The Last War Service - The war in Europe ended one minute after midnight on 8 May, and the last launch of a lifeboat was one minute before the end. Two under water explosions, either torpedo or mine, had blown up a Norwegian Mine-sweeper, one of four, off Berry Head and the Salcombe lifeboat was launched at midnight.
1969Centenary Vellum awarded.
1972The Thanks of the Institution inscribed on Vellum accorded to Coxswain H W Distin for rescuing by breeches buoy of the five crew of the Belgian fishing trawler Amelie Suzanne on 1 April in a strong westerly wind and poor visibility.
1979The Thanks of the Institution inscribed on Vellum accorded to Coxswain John Griffiths in recognition of his skill and determination when the lifeboat was manoeuvred close to dangerous rocks, stood by the coaster Heye P ashore on Sea Gull Rock and illuminated the scene during the rescue of the coaster's crew of three by helicopter in the darkness of the night of 16 December.
1983A Framed Letter of Thanks signed by the Chairman awarded to Coxswain J G Griffiths, Motor Mechanic F Y Smith, Assistant Mechanic B Cater and crew members S Turns, R Evans, M Hicks and D Lamble in recognition of their fortitude and determination, following the capsize of the lifeboat The Baltic Exchange during a service to an upturned inflatable dinghy on 10 April.
1988Watson class lifeboat withdrawn and replaced by a Tyne class.
1992Bronze Medal awarded to Coxswain/Mechanic Frank Yeoman Smith in recognition of his courage, seamanship, leadership and determination when the lifeboat Baltic Exchange II took the 1,200 ton coaster Janet C in tow and held her off the rocks at Start Point for three hours until the arrival of a tug in the early hours of 8 January 1992. The coaster had suffered total power failure in south westerly gale force winds and heavy sea. A Framed Letter of Thanks signed by the Chairman was awarded to Staff Coxswain John Marjoram for the support he gave to Coxswain/Mechanic Smith, who was officially on leave but had made himself available for this service because of prevailing conditions and his knowledge of the Start Point area.
Modification and modernisation work was carried out on the boathouse. It included a new museum and display area plus updated staff facilities.
1997A Framed Letter of Thanks signed by the Chairman was awarded to Coxswain/Mechanic Frank Smith when the relief lifeboat Mariners Friend launched on 4 November in a south easterly Force 7 Near Gale to the cargo vessel Ina which was aground near Bolt Head, with engine failure. The sea was up to three metres high with rain squalls, visibility was reduced to three cables. . A line was passed which held the bow seaward whilst the anchor chain was recovered and in deteriorating conditions the Ina was slowly towed away from the rocks on which, if she had not been towed clear, would have become a wreck.
2002Former Coxswain Frank Smith was awarded the MBE in the New Years Honours List. It was formally presented at Buckingham Palace.
Following the visit on 25 October 2001 by the Coast Review delegation, led by Admiral Sir Jock Slater, it was agreed by the Search and Rescue Committee on 6 February 2002 and resolved by the Executive Committee at their meeting on 10 April 2002 that the decision to allocate a Trent class lifeboat to Salcombe be rescinded and that the station be earmarked for the allocation of an afloat FSB2 in due course. It was also resolved that the obtaining of consents for the provision of a B class boathouse/launching facility be progressed.
2003The new station Atlantic 75, B class lifeboat, B-794 Joan Bate was placed on service on 7 November. This lifeboat was funded by the generous bequest of Miss Joan Bate.
2004New slipway and extensive improvements to the ILB boathouse and ALB berth at a cost of £884,336.
2008The new station Tamar class lifeboat ON1289 The Baltic Exchange III was placed on service on 10 March. The lifeboat was funded by the Baltic Exchange and a generous donation received in memory of Marjorie D Heath from Marjorie’s Settlement Trust together with other gifts and legacies. Lifeboat ON1130 has been withdrawn.
2010Crew members Iain Dundas, Cameron Sims-Sterling and Adam Lilley were awarded Certificates of recognition for their initiative and exceptional First Aid skills, when they tended a seriously injured man on board a fishing vessel on 16 May 2010.
Coxswain Marco Brimacombe stands down, with Chris Winzar appointed as the new Coxswain of Salcombe Lifeboat station.
MEDAL RECORDThirteen medals have been awarded, four Silver and nine Bronze, the last being voted in 1992.
Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI), a charity registered in England and Wales (209603) and Scotland (SC037736). Registered charity number 20003326 in the Republic of Ireland | RNLI (Trading) Ltd - 1073377, RNLI (Sales) Ltd - 2202240, RNLI (Enterprises) Ltd - 1784500 and RNLI College Ltd - 7705470 are all companies registered in England and Wales at West Quay Road, Poole, BH15 1HZ. Images and copyright © RNLI 2015.