St Ives Lifeboat Station

  • Location St Ives, Cornwall
  • Client Royal National Lifeboat Institute
  • Year 1994

St Ives is a town that has been shaped by the bounties and demands of the sea. The narrow granite streets tell the story of the sea by their very shape and structure. For over a century the RLNI has brought peace of mind to this seafaring community. In 1990 the establishment of the larger Mersey class lifeboat required the provision of a new lifeboat house and slipway.

Ponyon Bradbury Wynter Cole Architects were commissioned to design the new boathouse, and discussions began in 1988 with Penwith Disctrict Council on locating the station on the town's West Pier.

The building is divided into three main structures, with the large central portion housing the All Weather Boat (AWB). This is flanked by two smaller wings, that on the harbour side for the In-Shore Inflatable Rescue Boat (IRB) whilst the one on the town side is used as a fund-raising gift shop. Both boats are kept inside on carriages and launched into the harbour with the aid of tractors. Additional facilities include a workshop, changing rooms, a crewroom and lifeboat boarding stairs.

The building was constructed with a steel frame structure to accommodate the open spaces needed for the new lifeboats. In order to remain sensitive to the adjacent Grade I Listed St Ia's Church and the St Ives conservation area it was proposed that the external walls were traditionally built with load bearing local granite stone. The building is finished with a traditional scantle slate roof. Meticulous attention was given to the detailing and materiality of the building to ensure it could withstand the full force of the Atlantic Ocean.

The external paving outside the entrance to the station incorporates a millstone recovered from the SS Nile, an iron-hulled cargo steamship that was shipwrecked on 30 November 1854 with the loss of all hands. A poignant reminder of the dangers of the sea and the altruism of the volunteers stationed here.

View from the West Pier
Archive Photo / Launch of Princess Royal
Archive Photo / View from the West Pier
Archive Photo / View from Lifeboat Hill
Archive Photo / View from the Harbour
Archive Photo / View from the West Pier
Archive Photo / RLNI Gift Shop
Archive Photo / RLNI Gift Shop
Archive Photo / View from the West Pier
Archive Photo / Aerial View
Archive Photo / View from the West Pier
Aerial Photo from the Harbour
Main Boathouse Doors
New Shannon-class Lifeboat Nora Stachura
New D Class In-Shore Lifeboat Donald Dean
New Shannon-class Lifeboat Nora Stachura
View Towards Harbour from Main Boathouse
View from the Harbour
New Shannon-class Lifeboat Nora Stachura
New Shannon-class Lifeboat Nora Stachura
2013 Visit from HM The Queen and HRH The Duke of Edinburgh
Aerial View from the Town
View from the East
Millstone Inlay Detail

I have no doubt that this new boathouse will serve the St. Ives Lifeboat Station well in the years ahead and I would like to pass on my sincere thanks to all those who have worked so hard in completing the project.

Lt Cdr Brian Miles, Director of the RNLI (1994)
St Ives Lifeboat Station
Awards
  • CPRE RIBA Cornwall Architecture Award 1996 New Building
  • The British Stone Federation 1995 National Design Award
  • Cornish Buildings Group Award 1995 Main Award
  • Penwith Design Award 1995 Main Award