Padstow had a lifeboat before 1827 and the RNLI took over full control of the Station in 1856 when the boathouse was situated at Hawker’s Cove, inside the estuary of the River Camel. As the river mouth silted up, it became necessary in 1967 to relocate the Station onto the open sea at Mother Ivey’s Bay at Trevose Head five miles from Padstow. For this reason a transit van is kept in Padstow to carry the crew to the boathouse. The lifeboat is in the water within 15 minutes of the maroons going off in Padstow. During its long history, boats from the Padstow Station have saved over 620 lives but not without great sacrifice. In 1867, five of the crew of thirteen were drowned when going to the rescue of the schooner “Georgiana”. There is a plaque in the Town Church in memory of these five brave men. In 1900, the Padstow steam lifeboat capsized on service and eight of the crew were lost.
Padstow received its new lifeboat “Spirit of Padstow” in the summer of 2006. A brand new Tamar Class lifeboat, she was donated by the late Micky Allen who also generously provided the previous Tyne Class boat “James Burrough” in 1984. The lifeboat was officially named on 17th September and the new purpose-built lifeboat station was opened by Admiral Sir Jock Slater.
You may wonder why the RNLI and its lifeboats continue to be run as a voluntary service dependent upon charity. Perhaps the most important reason is that every lifeboat station attracts to itself a number of the ablest and most active people in the area. Crew, shore helpers and administrative workers all devote considerable time and energy to the efficiency and well-being of the station. The Lifeboat Guild are the main fund-raisers in Padstow, holding various fund raising events throughout the year.
The station holds open days throughout the summer. The station is also open to visitors between 10am and 3pm on a daily basis, though times can be subject to change without notice. Lifeboat crews know that no matter how often they put to sea, or what they endure, they can always count on the loyal support of the community. It is this spirit of service to and within a community which the RNLI as a body has forged over the years into a tradition. This sense of personal involvement would almost certainly cease to flourish under a state controlled scheme and both the lifeboat service and the nation would be poorer. The RNLI is truly a people’s service and offers every man, woman and child the opportunity of making their personal contribution to rescue at sea.
It would be impertinent to discuss the wonderful work done by the Padstow Lifeboat without making a mention of the other services which so often work in close co-operation with us: The Coastguard, the Naval Air Station at Culdrose, and the RAF at St. Mawgan. So often the four services, along with Rock’s new inshore lifeboat, join together in search and rescue operations which leave us filled with admiration. The crew of the lifeboat consists of two full time crew members and volunteers who come from all walks of life in the local area. Over the years the Padstow Lifeboat crew have been awarded 28 Silver and 2 Bronze Medals for bravery by the Institution and 2 British Empire Medals.
Each lifeboat has its own Lifeboat Supporters Association and everyone is welcome to join. This will keep you up to date with what is happening at the station. To register please visit www.padstow-lifeboat.org.uk.
The RNLI depends entirely on voluntary contributions for its income.
The music “Padstow Lifeboat” by Malcolm Arnold is available from their online shop.