Criccieth lifeboat station

link_to_french_translationCriccieth lifeboat station, Lon Felin, Criccieth

Criccieth lifeboat station was established in 1853 by the Shipwrecked Fishermen and Mariners’ Royal Benevolent Society. It is unclear whether this was at Porthmadog or Criccieth, but after the RNLI took over all the SFMRBS stations in 1854 the lifeboat was based at Criccieth. Silver medals for bravery had been awarded in 1845 to four local men for aiding an American ship called Glendower.

In 1885, the crew rescued seven sailors who were clinging to the remains of the barque Spanker several hours after it was wrecked near Harlech. The lifeboat had waited several hours on the rough sea for daybreak.

The station continued to be known as the “Portmadoc” station until 1892, when it was renamed Criccieth station. In the same year the boathouse was substantially rebuilt at a cost of £600 and this is still used today. In 1894 sound signals were used for the first time to summon the crew, who had previously been called out by messenger.

In 1910, four members of the lifeboat crew were washed overboard during two launches to fishing smacks. All were safely recovered. See the Footnotes below for details of other rescues.

The station at Criccieth closed in 1931, when the new motor lifeboat at Pwllheli was judged to provide enough local cover for the northern part of Cardigan Bay. Following a tragedy in which five people - including four schoolboys - drowned off Criccieth in September 1951, the station was reopened in 1953 to provide more immediate cover for the area. You can read about the memorial to the drowned boys here.

An inshore lifeboat was sent to the station in 1967 and the all-weather boat was withdrawn at the end of March 1968. Progressively larger inshore lifeboats were placed at Criccieth in 1983, 1993, 1994 and 2007.

In 2009-10 the RNLI trialled a small inflatable Arancia inshore boat, used by beach lifeguards, at Criccieth to test whether they would overcome problems encountered by the station’s Atlantic 85 in the shallow waters of the Dwyryd and Glaslyn estuaries. This arrangement was made permanent in November 2010 with Criccieth being the first RNLI lifeboat station to operate an Arancia IRB.  In June 2011 a new Arancia IRB named Margaret and Nantw was sent to the station. It was provided out of the legacy a local lady and is named after her and her sister, who were both lifelong supporters of the station. 

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: LL52 0DN    View Location Map

Other SHIPWRECK HiPoints in this region:
Abersoch lifeboat station – medal for rescuing crew from wreck of ship which had sailed from New Orleans
Owen Morris wreck 1907 – blown onto rocks very near home, after seven months at sea

RNLI website


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More Criccieth rescues

1856 - Silver medal to John Roberts for rescuing four crew from a brig which had run aground near Harlech.
1881 - Two lifeboat crew were injured when the lifeboat was damaged while assisting a barque.
1977 - Thanks of the Institution Inscribed on Vellum to helmsman James Owen and crew members Kenneth Roberts and Robert Williams for rescuing four people from a yacht.
1994 - Helmsman William Walker-Jones received a Framed Letter of Thanks for rescuing two people from a yacht, on his first service as an inshore lifeboat helmsman.
2000 - Letter of appreciation from the RNLI’s director to helmsman Kevin Owen for rescuing an injured child from the foot of a cliff, which involved crossing Porthmadog Bar twice in gales and against an ebb tide.