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Lifeboat services throughout the United Kingdom are run as a charity and manned by volunteers under the Royal National Lifeboat Institution. Cadgwith lifeboat was manned by local fishermen between 1867 and 1963 as a benevolent service to all seafarers especially due to the treacherous local waters. In 1961 the service was transferred to a new lifeboat station at Kilcobben Cove, situated approximately halfway along the coast between The Lizard and Cadgwith and more sheltered from the prevailing winds. The Lizard and Cadgwith lifeboats were merged and known as the Lizard-Cadgwith lifeboat between 1961 and 1987 and subsequently called the Lizard Lifeboat.

Four of the Cadgwith lifeboats were rowing, the fifth, the Guide of Dunkirk, was powered.

The Lifeboat came to Cadgwith in 1867.

The first was Western Commercial Traveller. She was 33ft long and 8ft 1in wide. She had a crew of thirteen and was rowed by ten oars. She cost £290 and was built by Woolfe and Shadwell.

In 1878, the Western Commercial Traveller was renamed Joseph Armstrong after the late Chief Superintendent of the locomotive and carriage developments of the Great Western Railway.

A new lifeboat, also named Joseph Armstrong, came on station in June 1887. She was 37ft long and 8ft wide. With twelve Oars and fifteen crew, she cost £454 and was built by Forrest Limehouse.

In 1898 the new lifeboat Minnie Moon arrived in Cadgwith. She holds the record for the greatest number of lives saved from one rescue. 227 lives were saved from the SS Suevic on March 17/18 1907. She was 39ft long and 9ft 6in wide, with twelve oars and fifteen crew. She cost £798 and was built at Thames Ironworks Blackwall

The Herbert Sturmey arrived on station in 1932. 37ft long and 9ft 3in wide twelve oars and fifteen crew. She cost £2000 and was built by Summers and Payne of Cowes.

The last Cadgwith lifeboat was the Guide of Dunkirk so called as the money was raised by the Girl Guides of the Empire. Originally destined for the Cromer Station, she took part in the Dunkirk evacuations. She sustained bullet holes and other damage. She was 35ft long and 9ft 6in wide. She was the only Cadgwith Lifeboat to have an engine, and had a crew of seven. She cost £5523 and was built by Rowhedge Ironworks.

Thanks to Jocelyn Fletcher for this information.

Scroll right down to the bottom and see if you can spot Sharkey and Harry in the video!!

Copied from the Visit Cornwall website
Dates Class Official No Op No & Name
1867 to 1887 33ft rowing   Western Commercial Traveller
June 1887 to 1898 37ft rowing   Joseph Armstrong
1898 to 1932 39ft rowing   Minnie Moon
The Minnie Moon holds the record for the greatest number of lives saved from one rescue: 227 lives were saved on the night of 17/18 March 1907 from the SS Suevic which was wrecked in fog and gales on the Stag Rocks on the Maenheere Reef, off Lizard Point.
1932 to 1941 37½ft rowing ON 664 Herbert Sturmey
1941 to 1963 35ft motorised   Guide of Dunkirk
The Guide of Dunkirk was one of the Dunkirk Little Ships. She was brand new and not named until after her return from France. Funded by the Girl Guides Association. She was renamed Girl Guide and is now on display at Mevagissey.
Herbert Sturmey
The crew of the new Lizard-Cadgwith lifeboat in about 1962
Launching the Guide of Dunkirk from Cadgwith beach in about 1957
The lifeboat had to be hauled out of the boathouse by hand,and across the road on greased timbers
This boat is either the Minnie Moon or the Herbert Sturmey
This was originally captioned "The Fishing Beach at Cadgwith, late 1920s or early 1930s" Minnie Moon was the Lifeboat from 1898 to 1932, followed by the Herbert Sturmey in 1932. So I can't say for certain which lifeboat this is.

LB Herbert Sturmey, Cadgwith Lifeboat 1931 - 1942

David Robinson on her last day in Cadgwith 23 July 2011
David Robinson on her last day in Cadgwith 23 July 2011
David Robinson on her last day in Cadgwith 23 July 2011
Ex Lifeboat "Guide of Dunkirk" as she was in 2002 in Mevagissy
Guide of Dunkirk being launched. In this picture are Fred Stephens, Giff Tamblyn with the white shirt and braces, Bunny Legg behind him. Also Jimmy Stephens and Arthur Moor. Rambo Stephens, Arthur Williams.
Recovery sometime in the sixties. I can't identify anyone here.

Crew of the Guide of Dunkirk in 1947

The "Guide" sailed well by all accounts
Clip from the Glasgow Herald October 10 1940

Former Lizard Cadgwith lifeboat "James and Catherine Macfarlane" as she is today on Lands End as a tourist attraction.

During my very few years as Hon. Sec. (a position now known as Station Manager) we needed a replacement boat for a spell. Along came the JAMES AND CATHERINE McFARLANE. This boat looked conventional for her time but she was one of a very few built with double diagonal planking, a system renowned for it’s strength and durability. This durability quality was sadly lacking on this boat. She had an odd ballast system. As soon as she was launched ballast was automatically let into tanks that were part of the integral construction of the boat. This ballast was there to assure the self-righting ability that all Lifeboats require. When the boat was recovered this ballast dropped out of the tanks again. Unfortunately this system also assured that the ballast tanks were permanently fetid.

As usual the team at Kilkobben took a serious look at the new boat, we discovered severe rot in the ballast tanks. ‘HQ’ at Poole were told about this and after some fairly robust discussion the JAMES AND CATHERINE was withdrawn from service and became an exhibit ashore at Lands End. Simon Sugrue
The James and Catherine was replaced by James & Mariska Joicey and remained at Kilcobben Cove during 1987 and 1988. She is in private hands, and has her own Facebook page,
"Duke of Cornwall" posing for a picture
Duke of Cornwall today, now named just "Duke"
"Joseph Armstrong" with crew and shore support in 1893
The lifeboat station built in 1961. I remember watching a "hard hat" diver going down with two men operating a hand compressor on a barge. That must have been summer 1959
The original Lizard Lifeboat station at Polpeor Cove
David Robinson and Rose on changeover day, 24 July 2011
David Robinson and Rose on changeover day, 24 July 2011
David Robinson and Rose on changeover day, 24 July 2011
Rose by Steven Legge
Recovering the Lizard Lifeboat in Polpeor Cove
Launching the Lifeboat at Church Cove. The old lifeboat house is now a holiday let
Very dated, but some superb footage of Guide of Dunkirk and other lifeboats in action.


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