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Station Historical Notes


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 and the 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, therefore in 1958 the Institution decided to construct a station at Kilcobben Cove which lies half way between the former stations and 1¼ miles east of The Lizard lighthouse. In 2009 this station was demolished to make way for the current station which is due for completion in October/November 2011.


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.

1859 Boat-house built at the top of the roadway leading down to Polpeor Cove, cost £120.

1866 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.

1885 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.

1888 Silver Medal to Coxswain Edwin Matthews for long and gallant services.

1893 Silver Medal to Captain David G Ball, master of the Gustav Bitter for gallantly saving one of his crew while stranded off The Lizard 4 March 1893.

1899 Church Cove station closed. Boathouse purchased by owner of the site for £40.

1907 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 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.

1914 New boathouse constructed at a cost of £5,000.

1959 A Centenary Vellum awarded.

1961 Station closed.

The station was established by the Institution in 1867.

1859 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.

1867 Lifeboat house constructed at a cost of £185.

1886 Binoculars voted to Coxswain Edwin Rutter.

1891 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.

1907 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.

1941 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.

1958 Linlithgow Sea Rangers requested permission to adopt the name of Guide of Dunkirk for their crew.

1963 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).

1961 A new station, known as Lizard-Cadgwith, was opened at a cost of more than £90,000 and major civil engineering work.

1962 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.

1967 Lifeboat launched on 28 May to welcome Sir Francis Chichester, home after sailing single-handed around the world.

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 15 August.

1985 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.

1987 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.

1988 Adaptation work carried out in order to accommodate the station's new Tyne Class lifeboat.

1993 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.

1995 Major repairs and alterations to slipway

2004 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

2009 The Lizard’s new Tamar lifeboat appeal was launched, 2010 the old station was demolished to make way for a larger 21st Century building to house the new Tamar class all-weather lifeboat.

2011 Tamar class all-weather lifeboat RNLB Rose went on service. New station due for completion October/November.

MEDAL RECORD Five Silver Medals for lifeboatmen at previous stations and one Bronze Medal have been awarded.





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