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28 October 2014
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One of the Padstow lifeboats

Padstow Lifeboat Station

The BBC Cornwall website is following the lives of the members of Padstow Lifeboat. Watch Johnny Rutherford's latest films from Summer 2006 which look at training and the arrival of the new lifeboat. Also see archive films.

The BBC Cornwall website is following a year in the life of the Padstow Lifeboat Crew.

Johnny Rutherford
Spotlight's Johnny Rutherford

On Monday 18 September BBC Spotlight will be broadcasting live from the new Padstow lifeboat station, and viewing the new lifeboat (which has its naming ceremony on Sunday 17 September at 2.30pm)

Watch BBC Spotlight, live in Padstow at 6.30pm on BBC 1 on Monday evening.

BBC Spotlight's Johnny Rutherford is spending several months working with the RNLI in Padstow. Watch his films here on the BBC Cornwall website.

For his latest edition of the series, Johnny looks at an important date in the RNLI's calendar - 'Sea Sunday'. Click on the link below to watch the film: 

video Padstow Film 10 (August 2006) >
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For his July films Johnny turns the spotlight on to the arrival of the new lifeboat to Padstow, and how the crews are prepared to venture out in all conditions.

video Padstow film eight >
video Padstow film nine >
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The new lifeboat was tested at Devonport Dockyard earlier in the year having passed its final sea trials. Click on the link below to watch Johnny's film from Devonport:

video Padstow film seven (April 2006) >
Audio and Video links on this page require Realplayer

Johnny has been following the RNLI in Padstow since late 2005. Watch some of his other films on the links below:

The existing lifeboat house was opened in 1967 and has housed two Padstow all weather lifeboats in that time; the 48’ Oakley class James and Catherine McFarlane which is now on permanent display at Lands-End, and the present Tyne class lifeboat James Burrough.

Since the boathouse became operational Padstow lifeboats have saved around 200 lives.

Rescue exercise
Padstow Lifeboat rescue exercise

There have been many disasters around the coast of Padstow over the years. One of the worst happened on 11 April 1900.

The trawler 'Peace and Plenty' was in grave danger out at sea near Padstow, and two of the town's lifeboats; 'James Stevens' and the 'Arab' were involved in an attempt to rescue the crew.

Five of her crew were saved by the Trebetherick Rocket Brigade, and three were drowned. Soon after the local pulling lifeboat 'Arab' was launched, but was struck by the stormy sea which completely buried the lifeboat. It washed eight of her crew overboard and broke all of her oars.

The crew were helped safely back on to the lifeboat and they attempted to reach the shore minus the oars. When the tired crew finally reached the creek they jumped for the shore. The lifeboat dashed against rocks becoming a total wreck.

The Padstow steam lifeboat was launched after the pulling boat. But soon a heavy swell broke and completely turned the boat over. The second coxswain, Orson French was at the helm. He was among the three members of crew who survived. The other eight drowned.

Padstow Lifeboat crew
The Padstow Lifeboat Crew today

Today a memorial can be found in the town's cemetery for the eight men of the 'James Stevens' and the three members of the 'Peace and Plenty' who lost their lives.  

In 1911 the Padstow lifeboat crew found themselves national heroes when they were featured in The Daily Mirror for rescuing the Captain of a French Sailing Vessel called 'Angele'.

The day itself had resulted in two rescues. The Chief Officer of the Coastguards was informed that a schooner was in distress and heading towards the harbour. Rockets were fired for the crew of the 'Arab' lifeboat to assemble and launch the lifeboat. The schooner 'Island Maid' had gone onto the Doom Bar. Soon the crew of five were safely returned ashore.

The lifeboat returned back to sea again straightaway to assist the brigantine 'Angele' which was also on the Doom Bar. But by now darkness had fallen, along with the tide, and there was not enough water for the lifeboat to reach the 'Angele'.

The lifeboat returned to shore and volunteers were called for as the crew were unfit to make another attempt. By a desperate effort the volunteers reached the wreck. Only one man was on board and he was found to be the Master of the 'Angele'. The other crewmen had drowned.

The coxswain of the 'Arab', William Henry Baker, was awarded the RNLI's Silver Medal and the 'Thanks of the Institution' inscribed on Vellum were awarded to the rest of the volunteer crew. The strong gales, heavy seas and poor visibility lead to this incident being one of the most outstanding rescues in the history of the station.

Padstow in 1967
Padstow Lifeboat Station in 1967

You can read more about the rescues of the past in 'A Short History Of The Padstow Lifeboat' compiled by George C Phillips which is available from the Padstow Lifeboat station priced at £3.25.

Lifeboat Stations

There have been two stations at Padstow, the No 1 station was established before 1825 and the No 2 station in 1899. 

In March 1938, the No 2 station was designated No 1 station and the old No 1 station at Hawkers Cove designated No 2.  The No 2 station finally closed in 1962. 

The RNLI took over full control of the station in 1856. 

The lifeboat crew of the past won many other awards for their bravery including:

1833: Silver Medal awarded to Mr W Giles who, in the lifeboat with seven seamen, rescued four of the crew of the brig 'Albion' that ran aground in a violent gale on 29 November 1933.

1836: Silver Medal awarded to Captain M B Wade for the rescue of three of the crew of the Jersey smack 'Britannia' that ran aground during a severe gale on 23 November 1936.

1841: Silver Medal awarded to J Mortley, Chief Officer Coastguard, for his gallant services to the brig 'Britannia' when six men were saved by Dennett's rocket apparatus, with dreadful seas breaking over rescuers and rescued alike, on 31 March 1941.

We'll be following the Padstow Lifeboat Crew throughout the year as they build their new lifeboat station. Keep visiting the BBC Cornwall website for more updates and features.

last updated: 13/09/06
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