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.
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