Fishguard lifeboat station

button-theme-womenlink_to_french_translationFishguard lifeboat station, North Breakwater, Fishguard Harbour

fishguard_lifeboat_elizabeth_maryThe first lifeboat station at Fishguard was established in 1822 and clocked up eight silver medals for gallantry between 1834 and 1855. These included two in 1847 for Martha and Margaret Llewellyn, the first women in Britain to receive a lifeboat award. They had waded into the sea on 22 October 1846 to rescue three men from a smack, coincidentally named Margaret, which was stranded on Fishguard beach during a storm.

The sea was so rough that local boatmen had refused to attempt a rescue. Fully aware of the danger, the sisters had ropes lashed around their bodies and forced their way through the rough sea until they could throw a rope to the sailors. The Spectator magazine likened their heroism to that of Northumberland rescuer Grace Darling and wondered why the sisters weren’t equally celebrated.

The RNLI took over the station in 1855 and built a boathouse at Goodwick beach. A second station was opened in 1869. The upper photo (courtesy of the RNLI) shows the crew with the self-righting lifeboat Elizabeth Mary, stationed here 1889-1907.

fishguard_lifeboat_station_1980sCoxswain James White was presented with three silver medals between 1873 and 1877, for his part in saving 80 lives from numerous vessels. On one day in 1882, 16 November, the lifeboat was dispatched to 15 different vessels and saved 46 lives.

In 1921 the RNLI gave a gold medal to coxswain John Howells, silver medals to Thomas O Davies, Robert E Simpson and Thomas Holmes, and bronze medals to the other nine crew for rescuing seven people from the wreck of the Dutch motor schooner Hermina at Needles Cliff. A storm had forced it to return to Fishguard on 3 December 1920. The lifeboat’s engine broke down during the rescue, and it took three hours to return the boat to shore by oar and sail power.

No.1 lifeboat station closed in 1907. The Great Western Railway, which had developed a port at Fishguard Harbour, built a slipway for a relocated boathouse in 1911. A new boathouse and slipway were provided in 1930. The structure is shown in the lower photo (courtesy of the RNLI), probably in the 1980s.

Viewers of the BBC TV programme Blue Peter raised funds for a new Trent-class lifeboat, named Blue Peter VII, which entered service at Fishguard in 1994. An inshore lifeboat station, with D-class lifeboat, was added the following year.

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: SA64 0BU    View Location Map

Other SHIPWRECK HiPoints in this region:
Llangrannog - publican’s ship wrecked in 1895. Norwegian sailor’s body brought ashore after 1917 U-boat attack
Lifeboat memorial, St Davids - three lost in Ramsey Sound in 1910 after rescuing a ketch’s crew

RNLI website


FOOTNOTES: More Fishguard rescues
1861 - Silver medals to David Beddoe and Albert Furlong for rescuing two men from a sloop.
1899 - Silver medal to coxswain James Thomas for his gallant lifesaving services.
1906 - Silver medal to James Thomas on his resignation as coxswain superintendent.
1984 - Framed letter of thanks to coxswain Francis George for rescuing three crew from the fishing vessel Oneida. He received the MBE from the Queen in 2003.

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