Aberystwyth lifeboat station
A six-oar lifeboat for Aberystwyth was bought in 1843, after local fundraising, and placed under the harbourmaster’s control. In 1861 a branch of the RNLI was established, after local people put themselves in danger to rescue the crew of the wrecked schooner Aquila. The town’s first RNLI boat, Evelyn Wood, entered service later that year.
A new lifeboat house was built in 1875 at a cost of £250. Two years later, crew member John James died from exhaustion after a long rescue mission to a schooner. His widow and two children received £120 from lifeboat funds. In 1880 the lifeboat capsized, without loss of life, when returning from a service to a brig. The slipway was rebuilt in 1898 but damaged in 1912 by a storm.
In 1963 Aberystwyth became the RNLI’s first station to be equipped with an inshore lifeboat. Many others were placed in service at stations around Britain during the 1960s. Inshore boats could travel faster and enter shallower waters than all-weather boats, making them ideal for areas where the main demand was for rescue of holidaymakers, swimmers and boaters. Aberystwyth’s offshore lifeboat was withdrawn in 1964.
In 1980 two hospital doctors asked the lifeboat crew to fetch clean seawater, which they would vaporise to help a nine-year-old boy who had suffered from pneumonia and now had congested lungs. The inshore lifeboat was used to collect water well away from the shore, and the treatment immediately relieved the child.
In 1993 a new boathouse was built for Aberystwyth’s new Atlantic 21 all-weather lifeboat and its launching tractor. The station’s current Atlantic 85-class lifeboat, B-822 Spirit of Friendship, arrived here in 2007. In 2009 the boathouse doors were widened, at a cost of £10,000.
The lifeboat service in the UK is provided not by government but by the RNLI, a charity which relies on donations from the public. Since it was established in 1824, the RNLI is estimated to have saved c.140,000 lives. It employs some crew members but most, 40,000 in total, are volunteers who leave their work, families or beds whenever their lifeboat is needed.
Postcode: SY23 1JY View Location Map
FOOTNOTES: More Aberystwyth rescues
- 1866 - Silver medal to Watkin Lewis of Aberystwyth for swimming out to communicate with a schooner, then helping to save the crew of six before the ship was wrecked. Later that year he waded into the surf to save his father who had been carried out to sea while trying to save a life. The medal recognised the latter rescue also.
- 1954 - Thanks of the Institution Inscribed on Vellum to Coxswain Baden P Davies for the rescue of three people from a fishing boat.
- 1970 - Thanks of the Institution Inscribed on Vellum to A Blair, M Nichol and K Stone for the rescue of a bather.
- 1976 - Bronze medal to crew member Alan Blair for swimming from a fishing boat and diving repeatedly in an attempt to rescue two men trapped in the cabin of a capsized motor cruiser.
- 1978 - Framed Letter of Thanks to crew member Robert Goorman who put out in his fishing boat to take a capsized sailing boat and a college rescue boat in tow. The sailing boat had capsized and the rescue boat’s engine had broken down. The four people rescued needed medical help.
- 1985 - Letter of Thanks to helmsman Alan Blair for diving into the sea at Blackpill, Swansea, to save a young girl who got into difficulties while playing in the sea on a polystyrene board. He was travelling to the home of the Mumbles lifeboat coxswain following the naming ceremony for the new Mumbles lifeboat.
- 1991 - Bronze medals to helmsman Peter Heading and crew member Robert Gorman, skipper of the fishing vessel Seren-y-Môr, for rescuing the sole occupant of the yacht Otter and saving the craft in heavy seas. Seren-y-Môr took over the tow from the lifeboat. Crew member Michael Harris received the Thanks of the Institution Inscribed on Vellum for boarding the yacht from the lifeboat, tying the tow rope and taking Otter’s helm. Framed Letters of Thanks were presented to David Davies and Martin Porter, members of the lifeboat crew, and Alan Blair, Brian Slack, Bryan Pugh-Jones and Sandro James, members of the Seren-y-Môr crew. The crew also received the Ralph Glister Award for this rescue.