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The Lizard's Station history

There were RNLI lifeboats at The Lizard from 1859 to 1961 and at Cadgwith 1867 to 1963. New station opened 1961.  The Lizard station was extremely exposed and in certain conditions launching lifeboats here and at Cadgwith was a difficult and at times a dangerous operation.  Cost of repairs together with the general upkeep was very expensive also it was considered that this vitally important area for shipping warranted a larger lifeboat than could be operated from either The Lizard or Cadgwith.  In 1958 the Institution decided to construct a new station at Kilcobben Cove which lies half way between the former stations and 1¼ miles east of The Lizard lighthouse.

A station was established at Polpeor by the RNLI in 1859 following the wreck of the ss Czar on 22 January 1859 when part of her crew was rescued by local boatmen.


Boat-house built at the top of the roadway leading down to Polpeor Cove, cost £120.


On 2 January, lifeboat washed among rocks and smashed while on exercise in a hurricane.  Three of 10 crew drowned - Coxswain Peter Mitchell, Richard Harris and Nicholas Stevens.  Institution gave £130 to local fund.


A larger boat was provided for Polpeor, and the old (smaller) boat moved to a new station at Church Cove, where a new boathouse was built for £300.


Silver Medal to Coxswain Edwin Matthews for long and gallant services.


Silver Medal awarded to Captain David G Ball, Master of the Gustav Bitter for saving one of his crew on 4 March 1893.  The Lizard and Cadgwith lifeboats were called to the aid of the s.s Gustav Bitter which had run aground on rocks. The Lizard lifeboat recovered three of the four men from the ship, whilst the Cadgwith lifeboat recovered eight further crew members including the ships Master from the ship’s boat.  The Cadwith lifeboat then returned to the ship, with the ship’s Master who bravely volunteered to assist the last man, who suffered from rheumatism and had limited movement, from the rigging.  He grabbed hold of the grapnel lines and swung himself aboard the wreck, he tied a rope around the casualty who was then pulled into the lifeboat.  He then jumped into the sea with no lifeline, to swim to the lifeboat where he was pulled aboard.


Church Cove station closed.  Boathouse purchased by owner of the site for £40.


Silver Medals awarded to Coxswain William Edward Mitchell and Second Coxswain Edwin Mitchell for their part in a service to the liner Suevic on 17/18 March 1907.  Silver Medals also awarded to Hon Sec the Rev. Henry Vyvyan, Coxswain Edward Rutter (both Cadgwith lifeboat) George Anderson and William Williams (both crew of Suevic) The Lizard boat rescued 167 persons in six trips, see also Cadgwith for details of service.


New boathouse constructed at a cost of £5,000.


The Thanks of the Institution inscribed on Vellum accorded to Coxswain George E Mitchell for launching the lifeboat in appalling weather conditions to search for a sinking ship on 27 November 1955.  The extreme conditions had precluded any launch during the preceding night.


A Centenary Vellum awarded.


Station closed.

Cadgwith lifeboat station


Silver Medal awarded to Mr John Ridge for the rescue of 18 people by shore boat from the Schooner Czar that broke in half and sank after hitting Vroge Rocks during a south-westerly gale on 22 January 1856.


Lifeboat house constructed at a cost of £185.


Binoculars voted to Coxswain Edwin Rutter.


Coxswain Edwin Rutter died as the result of the capsizing of his fishing boat.  He had been coxswain since 1864.  Committee of Management voted £25 to local fund.


The Lizard and Cadgwith lifeboats were called to the aid of the s.s Gustav Bitter which had run aground on rocks.  See report above.


Silver Medals voted to Rev N Vyvyan and Coxswain Edward Rutter in recognition of their service when the Cadgwith lifeboat rescued 227 lives when the White Star liner Suevic in dense fog ran onto the Marnheere Reef off The Lizard on 17 March 1907.  Cadgwith, Lizard, Coverack and Porthleven lifeboats rescued 456 of the 524 passengers and crew.


The lifeboat Guide of Dunkirk had just been completed at Rowhedge Ironworks when the evacuation of Dunkirk came.  She was one of the 19 lifeboats that went to Dunkirk.  After Dunkirk she returned to the building yard for repairs and was then sent to Cadgwith.


Linlithgow Sea Rangers requested permission to adopt the name of Guide of Dunkirk for their crew.


Station closed.

The Lizard lifeboat station - (Formerly Lizard- Cadgwith)

The new station was opened on 7 July 1961 by HRH The Duke of Edinburgh, who was at the time a member of the Committee of Management of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution.  His Royal Highness also named the new lifeboat The Duke of Cornwall (Civil Service No 33).


A new station, known as Lizard-Cadgwith, was opened at a cost of more than £90,000 and major civil engineering work.


On 23 July a launch by the lifeboat was featured in the first ever television programme to be transmitted live via Telstar from this country to the continents of North America and Europe.


Lifeboat launched on 28 May to welcome Sir Francis Chichester, home after sailing single-handed around the world.


Head launcher JC Curnow died of injuries sustained as a result of an accident with the winch wire on the slip when the lifeboat was being recovered from exercise on 23 January 1975.


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 15 August.


Bronze Medal of the Institution awarded to Coxswain/Mechanic Peter Mitchell in recognition of the courage and high standard of seamanship displayed by him when the lifeboat rescued the crew of three and saved the yacht Bass which had lost her rudder in a south westerly near gale and a rough sea on 3 September 1984.


On 1 July at a meeting of the Committee of Management of the RNLI, approval was given for the current lifeboat station's name to be changed to The Lizard.  This was in accordance with the wishes of the station and the local community.


Adaptation work carried out in order to accommodate the station's new Tyne Class lifeboat.


A collective Framed Letter of Thanks signed by the Chairman of the Institution Mr Michael Vernon, was presented to Coxswain Philip Burgess, Second Coxswain David Hill, Mechanic Roger Legge, Assistant Mechanic John Harris and crew members Michael Legge, Louis Mitchell, Richard Woodmansey and Robert Francis for the service on 30 May, when the David Robinson lifeboat rescued 10 people and saved the 49ft gaff rigged yawl Heptarchy, which had fouled a trawl and blown out her sails 41 miles south-east of The Lizard.  After several attempts the lifeboat was manoeuvred along a trough in the waves and a heaving line was passed.  In winds up to 60 knots and very rough seas the yacht was taken in tow to a mooring in the Helford River.  The lifeboat returned to station with a very exhausted crew, who had been at sea for nearly 12 hours.


Major repairs and alterations to slipway


The Thanks of the Institution inscribed on Vellum was accorded to Coxswain Philip Burgess in recognition of his leadership, seamanship and determination when the lifeboat saved two people and the yacht Gellie on 7 July 2004.  The service took place at night in severe weather conditions approximately 35 miles south of Lizard Point.  The winds were north easterly 11 to 12 and the seas were 6 to 7 metres.  The condition precluded evacuation or transfer of crew and a two was successfully passed and established


Following the visit on Tuesday 23 October 2007 by the Coast Review delegation, led by Rear Admiral John Tolhurst, it was agreed by the Operations Committee on 7 March 2008 and resolved by the Trustee Committee at their meeting on 2 April 2008 that the station be allocated a Tamar Class ALB to replace the Tyne Class ALB in due course.

The Trustees of the RNLI voted on 5 November to award The Lizard Lifeboat Station an Anniversary Vellum to mark 150 years of service in 2009.


Access road improvements completed on May 2010.


The new station Tamar Class lifeboat ON1300 Rose which was placed in service on 16 July 2011 was funded by a large anonymous donation from a charitable trust founded by a generous benefactor called Rose.


The new Lizard Lifeboat station boathouse was generously funded by several large legacies and donations.  It was opened on 5 May 2012 by Admiral the Lord Boyce GCB OBE DL the Chairman of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution.