When The Boat Goes Out

The Alba boiler at low tide on Porthmeor, St. Ives, Cornwall

The boiler of the Alba, still visible at low tide on Porthmeor.

The SS Alba ran aground on the rocks of the Island in 1938. Apparently the ship was in no immediate danger of sinking but nevertheless the decision was made to take the crew and passengers off.

The lifeboat was called out and evacuated the ship but in the dark and stormy conditions the boat overturned on its way back. All the passengers survived but two of the Alba's crew drowned saving the passengers.

The Alba memorial in Barnoon Cemetery, St. Ives, Cornwall St. Ives never forgets the Alba and just last year a new memorial was put up in Barnoon Cemetery to honour the Alba crewmen who perished.

As you can see, the crew of the St. Ives lifeboat also survived but less than a year later fate was tempted once too often:-

The Lifeboat memorial on the Lifeboat House, The Wharf, St. Ives, Cornwall

Large Print Version

The depth of the tragedy can be seen in the names of those lost. Thomas and Richard Cocking, were father and son. Richard Q. Stevens was Thomas Cocking's son-in-law. Matthew and William Barber were brothers.

And yet, despite this tragedy .....

Grave of several crew members lost in the St. Ives lifeboat disaster.

..... the present Coxswain of the St. Ives lifeboat is Tommy Cocking, the great-grandson and grandson, respectively of the Coxswain, Thomas Cocking and crewman John B. Cocking, who were lost in the 1939 lifeboat disaster.

Tommy followed in his father's footsteps, who also served with distinction as crewman and coxswain of the St. Ives lifeboat before retiring

If you want to know more about the history and stories of the St. Ives lifeboat you will have to come to St. Ives and look for them yourself. Oh, there are stories but they are not told merely for the asking.

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