RNLI - St Ives

Lifeboat crews at St Ives have been saving lives at sea since 1839 and received 33 medals for gallantry. The station currently operates two boats – a Shannon class all-weather lifeboat and a D class inshore lifeboat.

If you would like to volunteer for the RNLI, contact them directly using the links above.

About RNLI

The RNLI was actually founded as the Royal National Institution for the Preservation of Lives and Property from Shipwreck in 1824. Thirty years later in 1854, they changed their name to the Royal National Lifeboat Institution.

The RNLI is the charity that saves lives at sea. Powered primarily by kind donations, RNLI search and rescue service has been saving lives.

It was the founder, Sir William Hillary’s, aim to provide a 24/7 search and rescue lifeboat service run, where possible, by volunteers and funded by voluntary donations.

Although the service was to be a national service to protect the coasts of the UK and Ireland, Hillary’s vision was to ‘extend its beneficial effects to the most distant shores, and to generations yet unborn.’

With our wealth of experience and expertise, we are proud to be a world-leading modern emergency service, separate from the coastguard and independent from government.

Volunteers make up 95% of our organisation supported by expert staff, all working together to help communities at home and abroad save lives.

What do the RNLI do?

Every day of every year, people of all backgrounds get into danger in the water. It’s a problem that we’re here to tackle.

In addition to our 24/7 search and rescue lifeboat service, we operate a seasonal lifeguard service. Every year, our volunteer lifeboat crews and lifeguards help and rescue thousands of people and have saved over 143,000 lives since 1824. Countless more lives are saved through our youth education and water safety work.

About RNLI in St Ives

Brief History

On 24 December 1838 the schooner Rival was trying to enter the harbour in a gale but came to grief on one of its piers; despite lacking proper rescue boats and equipment five people were saved after much courage and effort by the people ashore. A meeting was held and it was decided that a proper lifeboat should be built for the town. Francis Adams, a local man, had recently won a prize from the Royal Cornwall Polytechnic Society for designing a double-ended, self-righting lifeboat, and he was commissioned to now build one. The Hope entered service in 1840, assisting the Mary Ann of Poole during a storm on 7 April. Hope had fallen out of use by 1860 so the following year the RNLI opened a new lifeboat station at Porthgwidden beach. It proved to be a difficult site to launch from and so in 1867 it was closed. 

The replacement boat house was situated in Fore Street. This was used until 1911 when a new house was built on The Quay. In 1964 an ILB was stationed at St Ives which was kept in a building in the Sloop Car Park. These two boat houses were closed in 1993 when a new purpose-built house was opened at the landward end of West Pier facing a slipway into the harbour. The building is built in local granite to blend with its surroundings. A large central portion houses the AWB. It is flanked by two wings, that on the harbour side for the IRB, the one on the town side is used as a fund-raising gift shop.

In 2015 after fundraising the 1993 boathouse was modified for the new Shannon class lifeboat and its Supacat launching rig. The work involved widening the main doorway, installation of a new fuel tank and upgrading of crew facilities.