The rocky terrain has also caused difficulties when it comes to building the lifeboat station. In the late 1950s a station was built into the cliff face of Kilcobben Cove with a long slipway into the sea to allow the lifeboat to reach waters as quickly as possible. However, the building was rather rickety and the time came for a new lifeboat station to be built in 2010. 18 months later and at a cost of £7.4m the new Lizard lifeboat station was completed.
The construction of the Kilcobben Cove station in 1959 was an amazing feat of engineering then, as is the new station 50 years later
140 ft down, the station is situated towards the bottom of the cliff and a new and improved slipway emerges from the building from which the boat can shoot down.
Local photographer, Geoff Squibb, has documented the build right from the beginning in May 2010 to its opening in October 2011. Having taken around 6,000 photos of the project, Squibb decided to publish a book, Kilcobben’s Rose, on the 18-month construction – the proceeds of which are going to the RNLI.
Talking of the original station, Squibb says, “One thing that was very apparent is that they didn’t have the level of health and safety they have these days…The actual boathouse was a very basic four wall, two doors affair. It was just the bare essentials compared to what they have got down there now.”
Now double the size of its predecessor, the new lifeboat station has won several awards, including 2012s metal roof of the year at the National Federation for Roofing Contractors. Covered in copper, the stunning roof curves snugly to fit within the awkward, jutting cliff.
Squibb’s book, along with over 500 pictures of the station throughout the construction process, is also filled to the brim with technical explanations of the building process. Squibb says, “There were different people at different stages of the build so I would send images to them and say, what are you doing here? Why are you using five of these and not four of those and they would come back with the answers.”
Despite the remote location the build of the boathouse was imperative, not just due to the history of Lizard point but also how busy the patch of water is. Michael Vlasto, the RNLI Operations Director explains: “The construction of the Kilcobben Cove station in 1959 was an amazing feat of engineering then, as is the new station 50 years later. With the benefit of improved technology the rebuild to house the new Tamar class lifeboat and provide her crew with 21st cenury facilities, has involved using a number of highly specialsied equipment, due to the remoteness and challenging nature of the location.”
Due to the location, the build was full of challenging tasks for all involved. Allan Bloomfield, RNLI Shoreworks Deputy Divisional Manager explains: “The most memorable experience of this project for me was being swung out over the rugged cliffs on a beautiful sunny day in the man cage attached to the tower crane with its 70 metre jib – a scary experience dangling high above the seas trusting the crane operator to deliver me to the site way below, giving me a bird’s eye view of the civil engineering works progressing far below. I certainly got a fantastic view of this stunning part of Cornwall and seeeing the new Lizard Lifeboat station rise our of Kilcobben Cove formaing a new 21st century landmark on the South coast Cornish coastline – awesome.”
The most memorable experience of this project for me was being swung out over the rugged cliffs
Of course, this state of the art lifeboat station has been built to house a state of the art lifeboat. The RNLB Rose, which cost £2.7m, has been designed specifically to use the slipway and has an inbuilt computerized Systems and Information Management System (SIMS) which means many of the on-board controls can be managed remotely.
The design and build will provide a blueprint for future lifeboat station builds – a design rooted in helping save lives.