Mumbles lifeboat station
The first lifeboat cover for the Swansea area was established in 1835 by the Swansea Harbour Trust. Crew members had amassed 10 silver medals for gallantry by the time the RNLI took over in 1863. Three years later the lifeboat was moved to the Mumbles.
In 1883 four crewmen, John and William Jenkins, William MacNamara and William Rogers, died when the Swansea lifeboat was thrown against the hull of a barque they were aiding. Coxswain Jenkin Jenkins, who lost two sons in the rescue mission, was given a silver medal.
There was further loss of life in 1903, when the lifeboat capsized near the entrance to Port Talbot harbour. Crew members Thomas Rogers (coxswain), Daniel Claypitt, DJ Morgan, George Michael, James Gammon and Robert Smith died. Tom Michael, who had survived the 1883 accident, was rescued.
In 1904 the station became known as The Mumbles lifeboat station. A new slipway was built on the north of Mumbles Pier in 1916. It was extended when a boathouse was added on the pier in 1922, two years before the station received its first motor lifeboat.
In 1944 coxswain William J Gammon received the RNLI’s highest accolade, the gold medal, for his part in the rescue of all 42 crewmen from the frigate Cheboque. This involved making 12 hazardous approaches to the ship, and the coxswain also received the Maud Smith award for the bravest act of lifesaving in 1944 for this service. Bronze nedals were given to mechanic WG Davies and bowman Thomas J Ace.
Tragedy struck again in 1947 when the lifeboat went to the rescue of the steamer Samtampa. The lifeboat capsized and all eight crew died: coxswain WJ Gammon, second coxswain William Noel, mechanics WG Davies and E Griffin, and crew members WRS Thomas, WL Howell, WR Thomas and R Smith. The steamer’s 39 crew also died. A memorial is located at Sker Point.
In 1965 the all-weather boat was supplemented by a D-class inshore lifeboat. A new boathouse for the inshore lifeboat was built in 1994. The current D-class boat, D-623 Peterborough Beer Festival, entered service in 2004.
The current all-weather boat, Tamar-class Roy Barker IV, began service in 2013. It is based at the new lifeboat house on the pier, formally opened in March 2014.
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.
FOOTNOTES: More Mumbles rescues
Other SHIPWRECK HiPoints in this region:
Port Eynon lifeboat – helped to rescue over 400 cruise passengers in 1981 from beached Prince Ivanhoe
Swansea Marina – French ship exploded and sank in 1905 in what was then the South Dock