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

About Us

In 1998, the initial Mousehole Community Centre Committee was set up in order to provide community facilities for the village, with provision for historic material to be available to see, and a home for the Mousehole Christmas lights.

A great deal of effort was put in by the committee to involve the community and get their commitment. As a result, a significant sum, in excess of £10,000 was raised in the first year, and there was evidence of a great demand for a community space. However it was not plain sailing and it took a further 18 years before the hall was finally opened! The completion of this project was due to the dedication of the trustees, past and present, a fantastic £500,000 grant from the Big Lottery and the skills of the professional people involved in the renovation of the net loft. Huge thanks are due to the builders from Catling Construction, the Project Manager Tony Woodhams, the Architects from Quay Architectural Services and the Quantity Surveyor from Edwin Bryant and Associates.

The Solomon Browne Community Hall is now a space that is used by locals and visitors. There are regular exercise classes, art exhibitions, events and performances. We also host a pre-school playgroup, a youth games club and monthly Sunday Brunch’s.

The hall is open to the public on Monday’s, Wednesday’s and Fridays between 11am and 3pm (except during private events.)

If you would like to be added to our mailing list to receive regular event updates, volunteering opportunities and our quarterly newsletter please send us an email asking to be added to the mailing list.

 

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 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 is no connection between the floors other than by trap doors, which have probably not been used for many years.

The building situated in the centre of the village, has suffered over the years from a lack of adequate maintenance and is in need of considerable remedial work. The roof has been replaced in recent years as it was in such a dangerous condition and some of the exterior has been re-pointed to help preserve it. Wood preservation treatment has been carried out on all interior woodwork on both floors.

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 for 35 years. If the village did not make use of the Store, via securing funding, the site plus resident’s car park (that adjoins the Store) would be sold for development.

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: Julie Whitt

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.

Treasurer: Roger Bond

Nick Cutts

Nick has significant commercial experience including 20 years CEO of her company Barton International Ltd. Nick is also a current member of the Carer’s Forum and represents people living alone without transportation of their owne, those with long term illnesses, and carers. She has a personal interest and experience of working with Alzheimer’s, Autism and people with disabilities. Nick is also a trainee National Coastwatch Institution watchkeeper.

Chris Yacoubian

Syvia Pezzack

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.

Caretaker: Alan Shepherd

Alan is the smiling friendly face who is always there to help. He will likely be the one you’ll meet unlocking and making sure the venue is ready for your event.

Cleaner: Alex Angove

Alex is a whizz with the brushes and mops and keeps our hall looking spic and span.