Lizard Point, Cornwall

Lizard Point (from Cornish an Lysardh, meaning 'the high court') in Cornwall is at the southern tip of the Lizard Peninsula. It is situated half-a-mile (800 m) south of Lizard village in the civil parish of Landewednack and about 11 miles (18 km) southeast of Helston.[1]

Lizard Point

View from Lizard Point
Lizard Point
Location within Cornwall
OS grid referenceSW695115
Unitary authority
Ceremonial county
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Postcode districtTR12
PoliceDevon and Cornwall
AmbulanceSouth Western
EU ParliamentSouth West England

Lizard Point is the most southerly point on mainland Great Britain at 49° 57' 30" N.[2] With the exception of parts of the Isles of Scilly, it is the southernmost part of England.

History and geography

Lizard Point is for many ships the starting point of their ocean passage and a notorious shipping hazard. The Lizard Lighthouse is situated at Lizard Point. Immediately below the lighthouse, situated in what used to be a hotel, is the YHA Lizard Youth Hostel. Lizard Point is situated within Caerthillian to Kennack SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest), noted for its biological and geological interest.[3] Polpeor Cove is a small cove to the east of Lizard Point.[4]

The area is famous for its carved serpentine items,[5] which range from ornaments to the pump handles in the local public house, the Lizard Inn (The Top House). The geology of Lizard can be interesting to some, with a number of planned walks available from local tourist authorities to discover more about the local rocks.

The first sighting of the Spanish Armada on mainland Britain was off Lizard Point at 3 pm on 29 July 1588.[6][7] This was one of the greatest invasion fleets in history and consisted of 120 ships armed with over 1,000 cannon and with 29,000 men on board.

The Battle at the Lizard, a naval battle, took place off The Lizard on 21 October 1707.[8][9]

Sinking of Ardgarry

The bulk coaster carrier MV Ardgarry (1957) was lost in a heavy storm, in over 30 ft (9m) high waves, off Lizard Point on 29 December 1962. All 12 crewmen perished and were never found.[10] She was built by James Lamont & Co at the Port Glasgow shipyard, and was 221 feet long and measured 1,074 tons gross.[11][12] The Ardgarry was carrying coal from Swansea and headed to Rouen in France. Six of the crew were from Northern Ireland, five from Scotland, and one from Donegal in the Republic of Ireland.[13] Found again in 2006, the ship's bell was recovered, and a memorial service was held by family members in August 2008.[14] All of the crewmen's families were there except one, First Engineer William Shumacher, of Brougham Street, Greenock. No trace of his family has been found.[15]

Bugaled Breizh sinking

On 15 January 2004 the French fishing trawler Bugaled Breizh (child of Brittany) sank off Lizard Point with the loss of five lives. There were claims at the time by French marine accident experts that the vessel may have been pulled under when her nets became entangled in a British or Dutch submarine which was conducting NATO exercises in the area at the time.[16]

Lifeboat service

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) operates The Lizard lifeboat station at Kilcobben Cove,[17][18] two miles (3 km) northeast of Lizard Point. A Tyne class lifeboat is housed in a large boathouse at the base of the cliff. The station features a funicular line to transport lifeboat crews from the boathouse to the clifftop station car park.

The biggest rescue in the RNLI's history was 17 March 1907 when the 12,000 tonne liner SS Suevic hit the Maenheere Reef near Lizard Point. In a strong gale and dense fog RNLI lifeboat volunteers rescued 456 passengers, including seventy babies. Crews from The Lizard, Cadgwith, Coverack and Porthleven rowed out repeatedly for sixteen hours to rescue all of the people on board. Six silver RNLI medals were later awarded, two to Suevic crew members.[19]

See also


  1. "Ordnance Survey: Landranger map sheet 203", Land's End, ISBN 978-0-319-23148-7
  2. Chambers's Encyclopædia of Universal Knowledge. W & R Chambers Ltd. 1860. p. 62.
  3. "Caerthillian to Kennack" (PDF). Natural England. 1993. Retrieved 18 November 2011.
  4. Ordnance Survey Landranger Series of Great Britain; Land's End, The Lizard & The Isles of Scilly, sheet 203. 1983
  5. Dickens, Charles (9 September 1854). "Cornish Stone". Household Words: A Weekly Journal. 10 (233): 96.
  6. Lovett, A. W. (1986). Early Habsburg Spain, 1517–1598. Oxford University Press. p. 184. ISBN 978-0-19-822139-5.
  7. Fry, Plantagenet Somerset (1990). The Kings & Queens of England & Scotland. Grove Press. p. 108. ISBN 978-0-8021-1386-3.
  8. Stewart, William (2009). Admirals of the World: A Biographical Dictionary, 1500 to the Present. McFarland. p. 112. ISBN 978-0-7864-3809-9.
  9. Grant, R. G. (2011). Battle at Sea: 3,000 Years of Naval Warfare. New York City: Penguin. p. 149. ISBN 978-0-7566-5701-7.
  10. "5 Saved in Ship Fire: 2 Vessels Missing with 22", Chicago Tribune, p. 1, 5 January 1963
  11. mv ARDGARRY,
  12. Lloyd's register of shipping: Register book. Register of ships, Volume 2, 1958, p. 71
  13. "A voyage of discovery: Belfast brothers in quest to trace relatives of shipmates who perished with their dead", The Belfast Telegraph, 6 January 2008
  14. Family memorial to lost sailors, BBC News Online, 10 August 2008
  15. Kinsman, John (2 May 2008), "Appeal for Crewman's Relatives", The Arran Voice
  16. "French trawler Bugaled Breizh 'was sunk by sub'", BBC News Online, 24 March 2005
  17. "Lifeboat Station : The Lizard". Royal National Lifeboat Institution. Archived from the original on 3 December 2011. Retrieved 4 December 2011.
  18. "The story of our station". The Lizard Lifeboat. Retrieved 4 December 2011.
  19. Biggest RNLI rescue is remembered, BBC News Online, 11 March 2007

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