In 1981 a tragedy hit the South West of Cornwall.


On the evening of the 19th December a great storm blew up, such that even some of the crew of the Penlee Lifeboat, the Solomon Browne, were a little apprehensive when they heard the maroons go up calling them to the Royal National Lifeboat Institution‘s (RNLI’s) boathouse at Penlee Point between Newlyn and Mousehole.

RN helicopter tasked

The Union Star, a newly launched cargo vessel on its maiden voyage from Holland to Ireland, was in trouble and drifting closer to the rocky coastline near Lamorna Cove, a few miles west of Mousehole. Rescue 80, a Search & Rescue Sea King from nearby RNAS Culdrose, was tasked with winching all on board to safety, but the weather was too bad and ship was drifting dangerously close now to the coast.

Penlee Lifeboat launched

Down the slipway went the Solomon Browne, but that was sadly the last time the boa and its brave and selfless crew were to be seen together. The lifeboat foundered, along with the Union Star, and all hands of both boats were lost to the cruel sea.

Visit to Penlee Lifeboat Station

Whilst camping near Lands End this summer we had the pleasure of visiting the original Penlee Lifeboat Station whilst in the area and it was very sobering to be standing on the steps that had been trod by those heroes of Penlee.

Penlee’s latest lifeboat is now moored in Newlyn Harbour. The current boat is one of the largest in RNLI’s current fleet and capable of operating in all sea conditions in one of the most inhospitable sea areas around the coast of the UK and Ireland.

Heroes one and all

Penlee still has heroes, willing to risk their own lives to save those of others, as have many other communities around the UK, Ireland, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands. Do please support them.