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The Penlee Lifeboat Disaster | Jackson Foundation Gallery
+44 (0)1736 787638
Penlee Solomon Browne Lifeboat 1973. Photo: Nigel de Wallens/RNLI

The Penlee lifeboat disaster

December 19th 1981.

Frozen in time, the boat left, never to return.Never to be forgotten. That sacrifice…

On December 19th 1981, the crew of Mousehole’s Penlee lifeboat Solomon Browne were lost attempting to rescue the crew and passengers onboard a stricken coaster.

On a stormy December evening, the Penlee lifeboat Solomon Browne battled heavy seas, 18 metre high waves and hurricane force 12 winds to reach the Union Star, a wounded vessel being swept towards the coast of Cornwall.

After several attempts to get alongside the Union Star, the lifeboat crew rescued four of the eight people onboard. But rather than turn back to shore, they made a final heroic rescue attempt – and all radio contact was lost.

Sixteen souls were lost to the sea that night, eight from the Union Star…

  • Henry Morton
  • James Whittaker
  • George Sedgwick
  • Anghostino Verressimo
  • Manuel Lopez
  • Dawn Morto
  • Sharon Brown
  • Deanne Brown

…and the eight gallant crew members of the Penlee lifeboat Solomon Browne.

  • Coxswain William Trevelyan Richards
  • Second Coxswain and Mechanic Stephen Madron
  • Assistant Mechanic Nigel Brockman
  • Emergency Mechanic John Blewett
  • Crew Member Charles Greenhaugh
  • Crew Member Kevin Smith
  • Crew Member Barrie Torrie
  • Crew Member Gary Wallis

Never Forgotten.


This series of paintings by Kurt Jackson is of the old Penlee lifeboat station, and depicts it as it was left after the disaster in 1981, a poignant reminder of the sacrifice made. –

Penlee Solomon Browne Lifeboat 1973. Photo: Nigel de Wallens/RNLI


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