Donate now

Ilfracombe's Station history


Four medals have been awarded, two Silver and two Bronze, the last being voted in 1984.


The Spanish Society for Saving the Shipwrecked in 1950, awarded its Silver Prize Medal to Coxswain Irwin and a Diploma of Merit to the lifeboat crew re service to ss Monte Gurugu on 13/11/49 when the lifeboat rescued 23.

Established in 1828 under local management, the Institution contributing to the cost of the first boat. The station would appear to have subsequently lapsed as the local residents requested the Institution to place a boat there in 1866.


Lifeboat house constructed at a cost of £180.


Silver Medal (Second Service Clasp) awarded to Captain C Gray-Jones RN, Second Assistant Inspector of Lifeboats in admiration of his valuable and skilful services in the Ilfracombe lifeboat on 16 December 1874, when the lifeboat rescued the crew of seven of the Brig Annie Arby and also for rushing into the sea and helping to save the Master of the smack Charlotte of Padstow which was wrecked in Widemouth Bay on the 6 December 1874.


New lifeboat house constructed at a cost of £360.


At a launch of the lifeboat on service one of the boathouse doors fell on John Pollard who was seriously injured.


A retired lifeboat man Richard Souch and his son Frederick, a current crew member, were both killed on 2 October 1895 attempting to save, in a small boat, the crew of 4 of the Ketch Arabella which had been driven ashore in a severe storm. The Arabella crew all perished too.


A Centenary Vellum awarded to station.


Silver Medal awarded to Coxswain Cecil G Irwin Ilfracombe lifeboat and Coxswain Sidney Cann Appledore lifeboat, for the rescue of 23 of the crew of the Spanish steamer Monte Gurugu that sank south of Lundy Island in a full north-westerly gale and tremendous seas on 13 November 1949. The lifeboat launched at 0718 and progressed to Woolacombe Bay where at 0900, after spotting the casualty, Coxswain Irwin took the lifeboat between the ships boat and the breakers which were only 10 yards away and rescued 23 men.


Coxswain E E Williams awarded BEM in Birthday Honours List.


Bronze Medal awarded to Martin Ruddy, a 14 year old Scout from Ilfracombe for the rescue of four people and a dog from a sinking speedboat on 7 June. He was also presented with an inscribed wristwatch. The rescue was carried out in a 9ft dinghy in dangerous waters.


Awarded to station a celebration 150th Anniversary Vellum.


A Framed Letter of Thanks signed by the Chairman of the Institution, The Duke of Atholl, awarded to Coxswain David Clemence for his leadership and tenacity when the lifeboat was launched under very difficult conditions and searched very close to a lee shore for a young man and a boy who had jumped overboard from the yacht Springtide on 25 April.


Bronze Medal awarded to Coxswain David Clemence in recognition of his courage, leadership and seamanship when the lifeboat Lloyds II rescued a crew member, landed a body and saved the yacht Liberty, which was dragging her anchor and being swept towards rocks in a north-westerly gale and a very rough sea on 9 September.

New tractor house constructed in Cove car park to house the station’s launching tractor.


The boathouse was adapted to accommodate the new Mersey Class lifeboat.


A D class lifeboat sent to station for one season’s operational evaluation.

On 27 November the Executive Committee approved the permanent establishment of a D class lifeboat station.


Thanks of the Institution inscribed on Vellum was accorded to Coxswain/Mechanic Andrew Putt in recognition of his skill, seamanship and leadership when in winds gusting to Force 10 and very steep seas the Spirit of Derbyshire lifeboat assisted in the rescue of two people from the fishing vessel Torridge Warrior on 31 March. The Ilfracombe lifeboat met up with the Appledore lifeboat and the casualty two miles west north west of Morte Point and took over the tow.


A new boathouse constructed for the housing of the Mersey and D class lifeboats and launching tractor. It also contains improved crew facilities.


The new station D class lifeboat D555 Deborah Brown was placed on service on Thursday August 2000. The new lifeboat has been funded by a special appeal organised by Mr Paul Brown of London in memory of his wife Deborah.

A Framed Letter of Thanks signed by the Chairman of the Institution Mr Peter Nicholson, was presented to Coxswain Andrew Bengey. Third Mechanic Leigh Hanks and crew member Martin Embrey received Directors letters and all the remaining crew received letters signed by the Chief of Operations for the landing of the crew of two, and a dog, and the bringing in of a yacht on 10 October. The yacht had her sails still set but was out of control in four to five metre breaking seas, 40 to 50 knot winds and frequent squalls of heavy rain.


The new station 85 D class lifeboat D-717 Deborah Brown II was placed on service on 28 August. This lifeboat was provided by funds raised by Mr Paul Brown, in memory of his late wife.