Station history

Sound off, the ships and all saluting, stand,
Who sail in safety past the end of land –
Land’s End, where sea begins to do its worst –
Last land for us, for foreigners the first,
Here the brave sons of Sennen, volunteers,
Have succoured seamen for a hundred years.

Sir Alan Herbert

The Sennen Cove Station is one of two for the help of shipping in the waters off Lands End.  The other is Penlee Station, successor to the station at Penzance which was established in 1803.

1868

Silver Medals awarded to Coxswain M Nichols and Coastguard Officer S Morrison for the rescue of the only survivor of the lighter Devon on 23 October 1868.  The lifeboat launched with the rocket apparatus on board and a line was fired from the lifeboat and the man rescued by breeches buoy.  This was an ingenious rescue by adapting the rocket apparatus designed only for use from shore, long before the days of the rocket firing pistol.

1874

New lifeboat house constructed at a cost of £250.

1890

Institution voted £5 towards cost of a lantern at Sennen Cove to guide the fishermen approaching the cove from the south and west in order that they could avoid a dangerous ledge of rocks.

1896

New lifeboat house, carriage house and slipway constructed at a cost of £1,560 and a road to Whitsand Bay £325.

1904

As lifeboat carriage was of no further use it was removed from the station and the carriage house became a store house.

1909

Silver Medal awarded to Coxswain Henry Nicholas for the service to the ship Fairport on 29 December 1908 in mountainous seas and a south-easterly gale.

1910

Acetylene beach light supplied.

1915

Silver cigarette case presented to Mr John Hocking who was seriously injured when assisting to launch the lifeboat for service on 12 December.

1919

Silver Medal awarded to Alfred Jackson and Bronze Medals to Thomas Hicks (Master), David Sleeman Jnr (fisherman) and Edward Sleeman (fisherman), for the rescue by shore boats of eight of the crew of the ss Falmouth Castle wrecked at Porthcurno after striking the Lee Ore reef of the Runnelstone, on 17 March.

1923

Station adapted for motor lifeboat at a cost of £11,000.

1953

A Centenary Vellum awarded to station.

1964

Bronze Second-Service Clasp awarded to Coxswain Henry Nicholas for the rescue of the crew of five from the burning Belgian trawler Victoire Roger.  The trawler had gone aground in Gamper Cove in wet, foggy weather and a moderate swell in the early morning of 24 March 1964.

1978

Silver Medal awarded to Coxswain/Mechanic H E Pengilly in recognition of his courage and leadership when the lifeboat was launched into maelstrom conditions to carry out a search in a north-westerly storm and a very heavy sea for the coaster Union Crystal which was listing and in difficulties off Cape Cornwall on 16/17 November 1977.  The coaster subsequently sank and one survivor was picked up by helicopter.  The Thanks of the Institution inscribed on Vellum was accorded to the remainder of the crew.  Coxswain Pengilly died on 29 January 1978; these awards were voted by the Committee of Management on 22 February 1978.

1979

A special framed certificate awarded to the coxswain and crew for display at the station in recognition of their services in connection with numerous yachts in difficulties during the Fastnet Race on 14 August.

1981

Silver Medal awarded to Coxswain/Mechanic Maurice Hutchens in recognition of his courage, leadership and excellent seamanship when the lifeboat rescued seven of the crew of the Icelandic coaster Tungufoss on 19 September.  The coaster was listing 40 to port after her cargo of maize had shifted in a south-westerly gale and a very rough sea and the coxswain made approximately 20 runs close into the Tungufoss to rescue the seven men, the last three being taken off when the vessel had a list of about 60.   The casualty eventually foundered.

1992

Rock removed from beyond the toe of the launching slipway.  Further rock removal works were successfully completed.

1994

Inshore lifeboat station permanently established.  A D class lifeboat sent to station for one season’s operational evaluation as of 22 February.

1995

Bronze Medal awarded to Coxswain Terence George in recognition of his fine seamanship, leadership and meritorious conduct when, with the Penlee lifeboat, the Sennen lifeboat The Four Boys assisted in the rescue of five people and the saving of the fishing vessel Julian Paul, which had fouled her propeller to the west of Longships.  The casualty was taken in tow in very rough seas and storm force winds, and brought into Newlyn at 1 am on 7 December 1994.

New D class lifeboat D490 was placed on service on 28 February.

1999

Adaptation to boathouse to accommodate new Tyne class lifeboat.

2002

The new class of lifeboat IB1, D624 Spirit of the RLC was placed on service on Thursday 22 July.  D490 has been withdrawn.

2004

A new Mechanic’s/D class boathouse completed in May at a cost of £273,000.

2008

A new Mechanic’s/D class boathouse completed in May at a cost of £273,000.

At a meeting held on 5 November the Trustees resolved that Sennen Cove would be allocated a Tamar class lifeboat in October 2009.  

2009

The necessary adaptation to house the Tamar class lifeboat was completed in September at a total cost of £4,000,000.

2010

The new Tamar class lifeboat ON1294 City of London III was placed on service on 7 January.  ON1121 has been withdrawn. This lifeboat was funded by generous donations to the City of London Committee and the Local Cornish Appeal.

For services to the Institution, Second Coxswain Philip Charles Shannon has been honoured by Her Majesty the Queen in the recent Birthday Honours; - Member, Order of the British Empire (MBE).

MEDAL RECORD

Twenty-five medals have been awarded, eight Silver and seventeen Bronze.  The last medal was voted in 1995.

FOREIGN AWARDS

French Maritime Medals in Bronze and certificates awarded to Coxswain Henry Nicholas, Second Coxswain J H Nicholas, Bowman Edmund George and Motor Mechanic Richard George for their part in the rescue of six of the crew of 18 of the French trawler Jeanne Gougy.  The trawler was wrecked on the Armed Knight Rock in a very rough sea and heavy ground swell in the early morning of 3 November 1962.

The President of Iceland presented Icelandic awards for valour to the crew of the lifeboat for the Tungufoss rescue in 1981.