Rescue mission over station’s stolen handles
TWO members of New Quay RNLI Lifeboat Station travelled to Cornwall to present a set of old cast iron door handles to coxswain Patch Harvey after theirs was stolen from the historic Penlee Lifeboat Station in Mousehole.
The former lifeboat building is dedicated to those who lost their lives, including all the lifeboat’s crew, following the Penlee lifeboat disaster in 1981. It has been left the same since the Solomon Browne lifeboat launched and never returned.
The two handles were once fitted to the front doors of the old lifeboat station in New Quay, Ceredigion, and before the station was rebuilt in the early 1990s the handles were removed by the current RNLI mechanic Bernie Davies as a keepsake and something to remember the old building by.
Mr Davies said: “On reading on Facebook that someone had stolen the Penlee Lifeboat Station door handle, I was shocked and upset. I knew I had to do something and remembered I had kept the old New Quay lifeboat station’s cast iron door handles which were exactly the same. I saw that they were appealing for replicas so I went to my garage and rummaged around.”
Mr Davies, along with Roger Couch, New Quay RNLI lifeboat operations manager, travelled the 313 miles that separate the two stations, a journey of six hours, and visited the old Penlee Lifeboat Station at Penlee Point where they presented the handles.
Now the two lifeboat stations have some shared history and the handles, turned so many times by generations of New Quay lifeboatmen, will have a new life at Penlee Lifeboat Station.
Mr Harvey said: “We are all thrilled to receive these beautiful old cast iron handles from our colleagues at New Quay Lifeboat Station. They’re identical to the handle that was stolen. Our thanks go to Bernie and Roger for making such a long journey to deliver them – RNLI family at its best.”
Mr Davies added: “I am so pleased our old handles are being put to good use and the historic building will be reinstated to its original state.”
The Penlee lifeboat disaster occurred on December 19, 1981 off the coast of Cornwall.
The lifeboat Solomon Browne, based at the Penlee Lifeboat Station, went to the aid of the vessel Union Star after its engines failed in heavy seas. After the lifeboat had rescued four people, both vessels were lost with all hands; in all, 16 people died including eight volunteer lifeboatmen.
The old boathouse at Penlee Point is an historic building with its slipway and building kept the same as it was when the lifeboat launched, never to come back, and a memorial garden was created beside it in 1985 to commemorate the crew of the Solomon Browne.
Bernie Davies (centre) presenting the cast iron door handles to Penlee Coxswain Patch Harvey (left) with Roger Couch (right).