Penlee Lifeboat Station
There has been a lifeboat stationed in Mounts Bay since 1803, when a station was opened at Penzance. This station remained open until 1917, although it lapsed between 1828-1851. In 1908 an additional lifeboat station was opened at Newlyn but this was only maintained until 1913 when it was closed. The closing of the Newlyn station saw the opening of the Penlee station in 1913 at Penlee Point.
In April 1947 the Warship 'HMS Warspite' undertow on her way to the breakers yard ran aground in Mounts Bay. In 30ft breaking seas all eight men onboard the 'HMS Warspite' were rescued by the Penlee Lifeboat 'W& S'. For this outstanding rescue Coxswain Edwin Madron was awarded the Silver medal, and Mechanic Johny Drew was awarded the Bronze medal.
On 19 December 1981 the Penlee lifeboat 'Solomon Browne' was lost with all hands in hurricane conditions while going to the aid of the Coaster 'Union Star' which had engine failure and was being swept towards the southern coast of Cornwall. The coaster was also lost and there were no survivors. Coxswain William Trevelyan Richards was posthumously awarded the Institution's Gold medal while the remainder of the crew, Second Coxswain/Mechanic Stephen Madron Assistant Mechanic Nigel Brockman Emergency Mechanic John Blewett, crewmembers Charles Greenhaugh, Kevin Smith, Barrie Torrie and Gary Wallis were posthumously awarded Bronze medals.
On the 16th December 1994 the fishing vessel 'Julian Paul' had fouled her propeller to the west of Longships, in storm force conditions. Both the Sennen Cove and the Penlee Lifeboat 'Mabel Alice' were launched to assist the fishing vessel and during a joint operation in severe conditions, the 'Julian Paul' was eventually towed back to Newlyn. In recognition of their fine seamanship, leadership and meritorious conduct both Coxswain/Mechanic Neil Brockman of the Penlee Lifeboat and Coxswain/Mechanic Terry George of the Sennen Cove lifeboat were awarded Bronze medals.
In 1990 a D class Lifeboat Station was established on St Michaels Mount, and in the following years a number of valuable services were carried out. In 2001 an Atlantic 75 class inshore lifeboat was sent to Newlyn and following successful trials was confirmed as fully operational with the D class station on St. Michaels Mount being closed at the end of the 2001 summer season. On the 12th September 2002 the Atlantic 75 lifeboat, 'Paul Alexander' was placed on service at Penlee to complement the cover already provided by the all-weather lifeboat.
In January 2003 it was announced that the Penlee Station would be receiving a new Severn class lifeboat to be called 'The Ivan Ellen'. The new lifeboat arrived at the Penlee station on the 11 March this year and has already carried out a considerable number of services.
The £1.8m lifeboat has been provided from the bequest of Harold Ivan Leech who died in 1992. Mr Leech's son, John, was a former employee of the RNLI in the southwest and it was largely his enthusiasm for the lifeboats that inspired his father to include the RNLI in his will. The ten-year delay in appropriating the bequest was due to the family's preference for the boat to be stationed in the southwest, and it is very fitting that the 'Ivan Ellen' should be stationed at Penlee, which is a station at which John spent many happy hours during his career.
The new 17m Severn class lifeboat is capable of 25 knots at top speed, seven knots faster than the 16m Arun class she replaces. The Severn has a range of 250 nautical miles and carries a crew of six. Her equipment includes a Y class inflatable lifeboat for use in shallow water, a salvage pump and limited fire fighting kit. She is fitted with all the latest navigation and communications equipment.
The Severn Class Lifeboat 'The Ivan Ellen' is a fitting tribute to the generous bequest of Harold Ivan Leech and a celebration of the work carried out by the crews both past and present who have served on the lifeboats at the Penlee Station during 200 years of lifeboat service in Mount's Bay.