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You are in: Cornwall > Sea Sense > Solomon Browne Remembered

The Solomon Browne

Solomon Browne Remembered

It's more than 25 years since the Penlee Lifeboat Disaster, which saw the tragic loss of the crew of the Solomon Browne. The BBC in Cornwall looks back on the tragic event with a series of reports and films...

On 19 December 1981 hurricane force winds had blown the cargo ship Union Star off course after it suffered engine failure.

The lifeboat Solomon Browne launched into very difficult waters, so rough that the crew of the Royal Navy Sea King helicopter from RNAS Culdrose were unable to lift any of the eight crew from Union Star.

The Solomon Browne

The Solomon Browne

Coxswain Trevelyan Richards made several attempts to get alongside and managed to rescue four people who jumped from the Union Star's wheelhouse onto the lifeboat.

The lifeboat made a further attempt to rescue the remaining four when radio contact was lost. Her last message was: 'We've got four off at the moment'. Ten minutes later her lights disappeared. The lifeboat had been completely wrecked with the loss of her crew of eight. There were no survivors from the Union Star. In total there were 16 casualties.

BBC Radio Cornwall reporters have compiled a series of reports remembering the disaster.

The anniversary of the disaster is on Tuesday 19 December and BBC Radio Cornwall broadcast live from the Penlee Lifeboat Station. The breakfast team were there from 6am with James Churchfield. See the photos by clicking on the link below.

Click on the link below as Denis Nightingale looks back on the fateful night in 1981:

The courage of those who died is commemorated in Mousehole Methodist Chapel, with the Christian names inscribed on an eight sided table, made from old pews. Click on the link below to hear Denis Nightingale's report from Mousehole:

Mike Sutherland is a regular on BBC Radio Cornwall as the Harbour Master in Fowey. But in 1981 he was the launching authority and Deputy Reserve Coxwain for the Penlee Lifeboat. Click on the links to hear his memories:

Today the Ivan Ellen is the Penlee Lifeboat. Nina Davey went out on the boat with the coxwain Neil Brockman. To hear the report click on the link below:    

Click on the link below to watch an archive BBC News report from 1981 on the lifeboat disaster:

Coxswain Trevelyan Richards was posthumously awarded the RNLI's Gold Medal. Bronze Medals were awarded posthumously to the remainder of the crew: Second Coxswain/Mechanic James Stephen Madron, Assistant Mechanic Nigel Brockman, Emergency Mechanic John Robert Blewett, Crew Members Charles Thomas Greenhaugh, Kevin Smith, Barrie Robertson Torrie and Gary Lee Wallis.

A local appeal raised over £3M.

last updated: 04/03/2008 at 11:12
created: 19/12/2006

You are in: Cornwall > Sea Sense > Solomon Browne Remembered

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