top of page
Centenary Logo.png

Trail Stop No 7 - the St. Ives Lifeboat Service

There has been a lifeboat in St. Ives since 1840. The first vessel was a simple double ended wooden craft called the Hope, designed by local St. Ives man Francis Adams. You can see a model of this boat in the Nance Room at St. Ives museum. It was in 1860 that the first RNLI service began in the town with the early boats having to be rowed by the crew to assist casualties, with the aid of a sail where possible. The initial boathouse was on the Island near Porthgwidden beach, which meant the lifeboat had to be dragged through the town before being launched by the Sloop Inn. Subsequently there were boathouses on Fore Street, then on the Wharf before the present boathouse and slipway were built in 1994.

Over the years there have been many lifeboats on service in St. Ives.  They have been launched countless times and have saved numerous lives, with crews showing incredible bravery to risk their lives in often atrocious conditions.  To date the various crews have been awarded 38 medals for their courage and conduct.

The first motorised lifeboat at St. Ives was the Caroline Parsons which entered service in 1933. Five years later she was wrecked on the rocks by the Island off Porthmeor beach going to the rescue of the Panamanian steamer SS Alba.  She was replaced by the John and Sarah Eliza Stych which was sent on loan from Padstow. Almost a year to the day after the loss of the Caroline Parsons the replacement boat was launched in terrible weather conditions with force 10 winds gusting over 100 miles per hour to go to the aid of the SS Wilton which was in distress off Cape Cornwall.  After eventually being launched at 3am into the teeth of the storm the lifeboat overturned near Clodgy Point and several of the crew were lost.  Although the engine was restarted the propellor was fouled and after drifting back towards the Island the vessel capsized again.  Only three of the crew managed to get back on board and there was a third capsize as the lifeboat drifted towards Godrevy lighthouse. The only survivor William Freeman managed to scramble ashore but the remaining seven members of the crew drowned. Many of them had been awarded medals previously for their role in the SS Alba rescue.

There is a memorial plaque dedicated to the crew of the John and Sarah Eliza Stych on the wall of the St. Ives lifeboat boathouse.  Thomas Cocking (Coxswain), Matthew S Barber, William B Barber, John Thomas, Richard Stevens, John B Cocking, Edgar Bassett and William Freeman received bronze medals. 

Today St. Ives has both an inshore lifeboat and a Shannon Class all weather vessel, the Nora Stachura. Both are regularly called upon for rescues along the coast and manned by dedicated and brave crew, many of whose families have served on previous St. Ives lifeboats down the years.

Nora Stachura.png

St. Ives Shannon Class Lifeboat Nora Stachura

L4 10x8.jpg

The crew of the Lifeboat Exeter in the 1890s

alba_wreck_1939 (1).png

The wreck of the Caroline Parsons and SS Alba

Lifeboat Memorial.png

The memorial to the men who died on the John and Sarah Eliza Stych

bottom of page