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Disgust as rivet from Penlee disaster lifeboat Solomon Browne is put on eBay

By The Cornishman  |  Posted: December 19, 2013

By Josh Barrie

  • Solomon Browne pictured in 1981. Right, the copper rivet, which appears to be marked with 'Penlee Lifeboat 1960-1981'.

  • The rivet appears to be marked with 'Penlee Lifeboat 1960-1981'

  • Copper rivet

  • Photo from a past anniversary - flowers laid at Penleee Lifeboat Station near Mousehole, in memory of those lost

  • Solomon Browne pictured in 1981. Right, the copper rivet, which appears to be marked with 'Penlee Lifeboat 1960-1981'.

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ATTEMPTS to sell a part from a wrecked lifeboat on an auction website have been branded as "shocking" and "insensitive".

A copper rivet believed to be from the Penlee lifeboat Solomon Browne appeared on eBay this week to the shock of locals ahead of today's anniversary of the tragedy in which eight crew lost their lives.

The seller, an antiques dealer, said he found the item in a box he bought and thought it would make a nice piece for auction.

Lawrence Jones, who comes from Cornwall but now lives in Dorset, described a "6 inch copper rivet" believed to have been "rescued from the lifeboat wreckage and used for fundraising".

On Tuesday, three bids had been placed on the lot with the highest standing at £21.

The auction was due to end just a day after the anniversary of the event, in which eight RNLI volunteers from the Penlee Lifeboat Station lost their lives trying to rescue sailors from the Union Star vessel in perilous conditions in 1981.

A number of people who hold ties with the disaster said the sale was "insensitive" and "shocking". Current coxswain at Penlee, Patch Harvey, said he was disgusted.

"I'm a bit shocked that someone could do that at this time of the year," he said.

"I'm a bit disgusted that someone could do that for their own gain. It's senseless."

Martin Brockman, who lost his father Nigel in the rescue mission, was also saddened. He said money raised should be given to the community.

"It's sad if it's being sold and the money isn't coming back," he said.

"It's just people and the way that they are."

Mr Brockman said he has, in fact, been looking for memorabilia from the tragedy – and questioned whether the rivet was even real.

"I don't know if it's authentic – they might have just found it in a box in the garage," he added.

Mr Jones said he had no idea of the timing and added he thought it was the first piece he had ever put up for sale on the website.

"I've got a shop and the item came in in a box," he said.

"This is my business – I buy and sell. I didn't know it was the anniversary. I went on Google to get some information."

On Tuesday it was removed by eBay "in response to customer feedback", as soon as the corporation was made aware of the item. The dealer said he was disappointed by the move.

"I feel annoyed it's been taken down, it's my livelihood," he said. "It's how I put food on the table."

Mr Jones said he was not sure what he would now do with the rivet – but said he would consider a donation to the RNLI.

However, the charity said the sale was thoughtless and also questioned its authenticity. Dave Page, a senior member of the organisation, said it would not accept a donation in the circumstances.

In a statement, he said: "It is very sad that someone should look to make money out of an appalling incident and with such insensitive timing.

"We would not accept any money from such a sale."

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