01736 731040
Duck Street, Mousehole,
Penzance TR19 6QW.
Solomon Browne Hall

About Us

Welcome to the Solomon Browne Hall, a fantastic, stylish and communal space used by locals and visitors alike, and officially opened by the Duke of Kent on the 3rd April 2017.

We host regular weekly exercise classes for all ages and abilities, a pre-school parent and toddler playgroup, a thriving weekly Farmer’s Market, art exhibitions, music gigs, craft workshops, weekly talks on an array subjects, a monthly film club night, quiz nights and many other special and regular events. We have also hosted productions and theatre groups such as The Mousehole Cat and BBC Radio 4’s ‘Any Questions’ and ‘Saturday Live’.

With our fully equipped kitchen, air conditioning, accessible facilities, children’s play equipment and competitive prices to suit all budgets, we are the ideal venue for most public and private events.

Come and have a look around, we’re open for scheduled events and by appointment.

To place your booking, for more information or to join our mailing list, so we can keep you up to date with all that’s going here, please contact info@solomonbrownehall.co.uk

We have an exciting list of scheduled events lined up for you over the next 12 months so keep an eye on our calendar, follow us on Facebook and Instagram to obtain more details and to book your tickets.

Being part of hosting events at the hall is a lot of fun and our volunteers enjoy the team work and friendship that it brings. We are always looking for more volunteers to join the team, so if you would like to support our charity and help us to grow please contact us at info@solomonbrownehall.co.uk

As a charity we very much rely on the generosity of donations, funding bids and fund-raising events. If you have ideas or would like to support us in any way then please get in touch. The SBMH Charity’s key objective is to bring people together as a community and in order to achieve this and to sustain the support for future generations, we would welcome involvement and help from everyone in our local community – so don’t be shy, get involved and come and join us!

 

 

The History of the Hall

The building was built in the 1890s for use as a fish store for the local fleet of pilchard boats. The fish were kept in (ten) large tanks on the ground floor and were packed into barrels for transportation on the floor above. The upper floor was also used as a net loft where the fishermen were able to string out their nets for repair by hand, and to store and repair crab and lobster pots and later flower packing. In later years, as the pilchard fishing industry declined the building was used primarily as a general store facility, the original fishing tanks having since been rubble filled.

The building was constructed using local granite with a large slate roof, comprising two floors. Each floor has an area of over 1800 square feet. There was no connection between the floors other than by trap doors.

The building situated in the centre of the village had suffered over the years from a lack of adequate maintenance and was in need of considerable remedial work. The building is owned by Cornwall Council, but was previously owned by Penwith District Council (before the creation of the unitary authority) who first offered the building to the community of Mousehole on a peppercorn rent in 1997 on a flexible lease of £10 per annum. If the village did not make use of the Store, via securing funding, the site plus the residents car park (that adjoins the Store) would be sold for development.

Thank goodness that didn’t happen!

The History of the Solomon Browne

The Penlee Lifeboat “Solomon Browne” is usually only associated with her final tragic voyage, but she had put in over twenty years good and valuable service before December 1981.

She arrived in Mousehole harbour for her naming ceremony in September 1960. She was a state-of-the-art Watson Class, 47’ long and costing the then-considerable sum of £35,500, most of which was donated by a Miss Lydia Browne to commemorate her father Solomon, a gentleman farmer from Landrake.

Her first shout was to intercept the freighter “Fravizo” and take off a mother and new-born baby – an event which was celebrated as recently as 2010 when the mother and the 50-year old “baby” came back to Penlee to recall the event.

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Much of her work-load consisted of ‘medicos’, attending to medical emergencies at sea and either transferring a doctor or landing the sick man, among other routine lifeboat tasks.  However there were some headline missions.  She attended the wreck of the “Jeanne Gougy” at Lands End, from which six men were unexpectedly rescued after all hands had been thought to be lost.  She searched for survivors of the “Juan Ferrer” which had hit the Bucks rocks in the night, losing fifteen men and leading to the building of the Tater Dhu lighthouse.  She spent a long and dirty shift standing by the stranded oil tanker “Torrey Canyon” to give the Isles of Scilly lifeboat a respite. She was on duty during the disastrous Fasnet race of 1979.

However her hardest service prior to 1981 was in 1975 to the MV “Lovat” which was sinking in hurricane conditions 25 miles south of the Lizard.  In awful seas she maintained full speed to the scene, where tragically she could do no more than pick up the bodies of the dead, a service for which the coxswain Trevelyan Richards received the RNLI Bronze medal and the crew received an official Thanks on Vellum.

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On the night of 19th December 1981 the “Solomon Browne’s” crew were put on standby as the coaster “Union Star” had reported an engine breakdown on her maiden voyage.  Eventually, and rather late, she was launched into ferocious seas to make her way to the coaster, which was drifting just to the west of Tater Dhu.  A helicopter had been on scene for some time but had been able to make no headway in rescuing the crew of five or the captain’s wife and two teenage step-daughters due to the storm-force winds and huge waves which threatened to entangle her rotors with the ship’s mast. A salvage tug had also arrived but could offer no assistance.

By the time the “Solomon Browne” reached the scene after a dreadful voyage, the “Union Star” was only a few hundred yards from the cliffs. The waves were rising to as much as 40-50’, breaking, combining with the backwash from the shore, leaving deep troughs in which uncharted rocks might appear.  Despite this Trevelyan Richards did not hesitate to engage the coaster, coming alongside time after time, trying to cajole the terrified crew to come across to the lifeboat, in vain.  As the two vessels neared the shore the “Union Star’s” anchor parted and she turned broadside to the waves. Attempting to come alongside the “Solomon Browne” was picked up and thrown onto the coaster’s hatches, clear of the water.  As she rolled back into the sea the observers on the helicopter expected her to founder, or at least to break off operations, but instead watched in wonder as she immediately closed in for yet another rescue attempt.

When just 50 yards from the rocks the lifeboat radioed in that she had taken off four survivors, male and female, adding: “…There’s two left on board” before communications ceased. The helicopter having already left, no-one saw what happened next, but the “Union Star” shortly hit the shore and tipped over on her back, while the “Solomon Browne” was overcome and broken to fragments.  Along with the eight lives from the “Union Star” the eight volunteer crew from Mousehole were all lost. They were:

Coxswain Trevelyan Richards, 56; mechanic Stephen Madron, 35; assistant mechanic Nigel Brockman,43; crewmen John Blewett,43; Charlie Greenhaugh, 46; Barrie Torrie, 33; Kevin Smith, 23; and Gary Wallis, 22.

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Their names are commemorated in several places in Mousehole, and are read out every year in the lifeboat service in Mousehole harbour, and will never be forgotten.  The RNLI awarded a posthumous Gold Medal to Trevelyan Richards and Bronze Medals to the crew.

The loss of the “Solomon Browne” and her heroic final voyage captured the imagination of the nation, inspiring poets and painters, sculptors and composers, raising awareness of the magnificent and still dangerous work carried out by volunteers of the RNLI, and is still recalled by the media on every significant anniversary. However Mousehole still feels the pain, loss and sadness of that shocking event, though coupled with an enormous sense of pride and respect for what her sons achieved on the “Solomon Browne”.

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Patrons, Trustees & Staff

Patrons

Simon Weston CBE

In 1982 the Sir Galahad was destroyed in Bluff Cove on the Falkland Islands. On board was Simon Weston, Welsh Guardsman, a name and face that was going to become well known for his struggle to overcome his injuries (46% burns) and redefine his role in life. 

Simon endured years of re-constructive surgery, including 70 major operations or surgical procedures.

Today Simon takes the opportunity to convey his story in order to motivate and encourage those, who like him, want to move on to the next goal, whatever it may be! The only obstacles to achieving one’s targets and successes are those you create for yourself. His words never fail to inspire you. Following his injuries, Simon’s road to physical, spiritual and mental recovery saw him active in a number of highly successful ventures. He remains a tireless worker for the charity and his charitable work earned him an OBE in the 1992 Queen’s Birthday Honours. He was also awarded Freedom of the City of Liverpool in 2002 in recognition of his bravery and his charity work in the region. He has appeared in the Top 100 Merseysiders list in 2003 and honoured as one of the top 100 Welsh Heroes in 2004.

Prof Ken Howard OBE RA

Ken has had a house and studio in Mousehole for over 35 years, and has always been very passionate about preserving its history, and supporting the famous Harbour Lights, and is very glad that there is now a Community Hall at its heart.   

Ken studied at the Hornsey School of Art  and the Royal College of Art in the nineteen fifties with a spell of two years as a Royal Marine during  his National Service.

His fame as an artist grew and in 1979 he was appointed by the Imperial War Museum as official artist in Northern Ireland.   He also worked with the British Army in Germany, Cyprus, Oman, Hong Kong, Nepal, Norway, Canada, Belize and Brunei from 1973 to 1982.

He is a member of The Royal Institute of Oil Painters, The Royal Society of Painters in Watercolours, The Royal West of England Academy, The New English Art Club,  and was elected as a Royal Academician in 1991.

Trustees

Chair of Trustees: Richard Hockin

Richard Hockin – Richard grew up in Mousehole and his family have been in the village continuously since at least 1510.

Having studied law at Southampton & Exeter Richard then joined Devon & Cornwall Police and now has 20 years service. His current roles are Counter Terrorism Security Coordinator and Critical Incident Manager.

Having set up the Police Diversity Unit in Cornwall, Richard has considerable experience in matters of equality and community engagement, particularly hard to reach groups, as well as an in-depth knowledge of security risk assessments and dynamic decision making.

Richard is married to Danielle and they have three adult children.

Secretary: Judy Joel

Judy Joel is a successful artist, representing the many self employed creative people in the village. She is the founder and Chair of ABNA – Association of British Naive Artists. Judy is an active member of Moushole Methodist Church and Choir. Judy also runs a successful gallery in Mousehole and represents the 25 retail outlets in the village owned and run by local people.

Anu Van Warmelo

Anu van Warmelo MSc AEES

Widely travelled, he has had an eclectic career from microbiology technician to English and Science teacher, from vegetarian chef to environmental consultant.
After obtaining his Masters at the Centre for Alternative Technology in Wales, a course run by the University of East London, he won an UnLtd Award for developing the concept of Blitz Cafes, a scheme to enhance social cohesion through concerns about the environment. Since then he has focused on developing sustainable strategies for communities of all sizes and types. 

He has also been involved with numerous theatre, film and TV projects, developing ways to bring science and environmental awareness into fictional contexts, and has published several novels and poetry books pseudonymously.

Chris Yacoubian

Danielle Hockin

Danielle relocated from North Staffordshire to Cornwall in the early 90’s where she met and married Richard. During a career break to raise their 3 children, she designed and managed the build of their family home along with several other renovation projects.

Having gained over 25 years experience in retail management, events and hospitality, she now enjoys being self employed as the owner of The Seawitch Candle Company and proprietor of Mousehole boutique, Seawitch Stores.

Vice Chair: Jonathan Bradley

Louise Bradley

Sylvia Pezzack

Born and educated on the Isles of Scilly

Worked at the islands Telephone Exchange, was nominated/achieved runner-up in the National GPO Interflora Personality Competition.

Sylvia and her family moved to Mousehole in 1967 soon involved herself in the local organisations, which included:

19/20 years secretary of the Solomon Browne Memorial Hall since inception.

Secretary to Penzance Youth Wind Band for 12 years

Helped to start up Mousehole Rowing Club and was secretary for 20 years, including
acquiring funding for the club’s Boat Store ETC.

Secretary/Recorder to Cornwall Rowing Association for 12 years, securing a £10,000
grant for a Safety Boat.

Worked with the Girls Brigade for 15-20 years

1996 – 2012 – Help to start the Biennial Maritime Festival, “Sea Salts & Sail.

Since losing her daughter Debbie Rendle, a former Trustee, has raised over £42,000. This is to finance bringing a Mobile Heart Screening Unit to Cornwall, to screen 14 to 35 year olds for undetected heart defects. This unit has now visited Cornwall 5 times and has screened over 840 people, with 75 who have been sent for further investigations.

Jane Torrie

Staff

Centre Manager: Tamsin Harvey

Tamsin is the person to call if you want to visit, get involved or have any questions about the hall. Tamsin is from Mousehole and is passionate about preserving her home village’s heritage, and creating a fantastic community resource for this and future generations. She has a successful history of working with communities and in particular with young people to create positive changes. Tamsin was the managing director of ‘Chew TV’ the UK’s first on-line TV channel run by young people, for young people. She has also significant experience of fundraising and managing education and community projects in her previous role as Development Manager with ‘Creative Partnerships’ and ‘The Real Ideas Organisation’.

Finance Manager: Sarah De Lacey

Experience of managing budgets and grants, forecasting, cashflow management, marketing and PR and managing and leading teams in previous roles at University of Surrey, University of Nottingham and Bass Brewers Ltd.  Worked for 10 years as Director of a Technology and Satellite Applications Incubator, mentoring start-up Technology business; also co-founded an Angel Investment Club in 2007 which is still going strong today, before moving on to setting up and running own gift and home interiors shop and online business.

Julia Chirgwin

Julia is the Assistant Centre Manager. Julia helps in all aspects of the hall and particularly in promoting and managing the fantastic events programme.

Caretaker: David Hearle

David is the trusty caretaker who works tirelessly in setting up and packing up for all the events at the Hall and making sure it is ready for you. He will most likely be the person you meet if you come out of hours. His is the task of securing the Hall, locking and unlocking.