Hope Cove Lifeboat:
Our Story

There was an RNLI lifeboat in Hope Cove in South Devon from the late 1800s, which was a rowing boat manned by local fishermen when the main occupation in the cove was fishing. The lifeboat building from this era is still standing, having been donated by the Freemasons in 1877 to commemorate the safe return of the Prince of Wales their Grand Master from India. This was used until 1930 when a motor lifeboat was installed in nearby Salcombe. The decision at the time was to remove the Hope lifeboat and rely on the Salcombe boat.

There was quite a strong contingent of Coastguards based in Hope Cove at that time and they were involved in several major rescues using breeches buoys and rockets to get people off boats that ran aground. 

Gradually during the 1900s the fishing industry declined in Hope and it became a holiday location. The number of incidents needing a boat increased and the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) recognised this and had a small rescue boat based in Hope from around the 1990s. This was manned by the coastguards who also provided a Cliff Rescue Team (CRT), which ran for around 20 years at which point the MCA decided to withdraw the boat. 

The locals strongly believed that there was an ongoing requirement which needed a faster response than could be achieved by the RNLI from Salcombe or Plymouth, the two nearest stations. There was much lobbying by the village of the MCA and the local MP and eventually the Minister responsible at the time visited the village and offered to give the boat and facilities to the village to run as an independent.

A village meeting was held which was very well attended and the near unanimous decision was to take the task on. A group of trustees were elected and the charity was set up, which took over officially in 2011 using the MCA boat crewed by coastguards. Since that time, the team raised funds and replaced the boat in 2013 with a 6.5m rib with 4 seats, this recently went through a major refit and update. 

The crew is now made up from local volunteers who train every Tuesday evening and respond to the many ‘call outs’ or ‘shouts’ despatched to us by the MCA. The numbers of holiday makers has increased considerably over the years with a proliferation of kayaks and paddleboards adding to the number of people requiring assistance. The number of ‘shouts’ the team has responded to and lives saved over the years, since Hope Cove Lifeboat’s establishment, justifies the decision to take up the challenge to run as an independent lifeboat.

Hope Cove Lifeboat raises funds by running various events such as quiz nights, selling clothing, running a 50/50 and any other ideas that raise money to keep the boat in operation. The crew and other volunteers are all very committed to making the lifeboat available and ensuring that people are safe, not only training but also giving up their time to build and maintain equipment, and supporting fundraising events. The biggest challenge for the future will be recruiting younger team members to develop them for the crew and volunteer roles as housing prices and employment opportunities in the area are becoming much more difficult.