Tenby lifeboat station
Shipwrecked Fishermen and Mariners’ Royal Benevolent Society opened a lifeboat station in Tenby in 1852. The RNLI took over two years later, building its first station on the harbour beach in 1862. During the 19th century, six silver medals were awarded at Tenby for rescues off the coast.
In 1905 the RNLI built a new boathouse and slipway, with rollers so that the boat moved easily, on the north side of Castle Hill. This was a Tenby landmark for more than 100 years, when the station and slip were replaced by modern equivalents nearby. The old lifeboat station’s conversion into an unusual house was documented by the Channel 4 television programme Grand Designs.
During a "terrific gale" in January 1906, the Tenby lifeboat managed to rescue the crews of two ketches in the same call-out. One, called Eily, was carrying scrap steel from Pembroke Dock to Swansea when it sank near Caldy Island. The other ketch, called Excellent, was carrying pit props to Llanelli.
In 1923 the station received its first motor lifeboat.
In 1953 the lifeboat rescued seven men who were stationed on St Govan’s lightship. A storm was threatening the ship, which in the event remained afloat but was badly damaged. For this rescue coxswain Thomas Richards received a silver medal, while bowman William Thomas and motor mechanic William Rogers received bronze medals.
The all-weather lifeboat was supplement from 1972 with a D-class inshore boat, for which a boathouse was built on the north side of the harbour in 1976.
In 1990 coxswain William Alan Thomas received a silver medal for saving the skipper of the fishing vessel Silver Stream and rescuing two crew from the fishing vessel New Venture, which had been under tow from Silver Stream. The crew received silver medal service certificates. Coxswain William Alan Thomas also received the Maud Smith award for the bravest act of lifesaving of 1989.
The MBE honour was awarded to former mechanic Charles Crockford in 2002 and to coxswain William Alan Thomas in 2004. The current lifeboat house was built in 2005 for the UK’s first operational Tamar-class lifeboat, Haydn Miller, which has been in service at Tenby since April 2006.
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: SA70 7BS
FOOTNOTES: Other Tenby rescues
Other SHIPWRECK HiPoints in this region:
Angle lifeboat – rescued everyone off a Scottish wreck in 1894 but whisky galore washed ashore
Worm’s Head Hotel – Shipwrecked French captain nursed to health here in 1910