Former Royal Dockyard Chapel, Pembroke Dock
This is the only Georgian military chapel which survives in Wales. It was built in the early 1830s for servicemen to attend Church of England services. By 1858 the chapel’s galleries were unsafe, and worship was arranged at a schoolroom in the military barracks until repairs were made.
The drawing of the dockyard in 1851, with the chapel on the left, is shown here courtesy of the National Library of Wales. The chapel’s choir would sing by the slipway when newly built ships were launched at the dockyard, after a religious service by the dockyard chaplain.
Memorials were installed in the chapel to naval officers and men lost at sea, including those of HMS Eurydice (which sank with the loss of 364 lives in 1878) and HMS Atalanta. The latter was a training ship until refitted at Pembroke Dock to replace HMS Eurydice but was lost, with all 280 crew, in January 1880.
In 1909 a fire damaged the chapel’s pulpit and destroyed all windows except the Atalanta memorial. The dockyard closed in 1926 but the chapel was brought back to use for the RAF flying boat station in the late 1930s. It was also used for entertainment, known locally as the Garrison Theatre. It later housed a motor museum before standing empty for many years, becoming derelict.
After a major restoration, it was opened as the Pembroke Dock Heritage Centre by Queen Elizabeth II in 2014. Here the town’s long connections with all three armed services is detailed in models of ships built in the Royal Dockyard, medals, uniforms, artefacts and documents. The remnants of one of the dock’s flying boats are displayed here.
One of the most popular displays (pictured) details how the full-size film prop of the Millennium Falcon spaceship was built in an old aircraft hangar just across the road from the chapel in 1979. The prop, made by Marcon Fabrications, featured in the movie Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back.
The centre is mostly volunteer run by the Pembroke Dock Heritage Trust. Please use the link below for details, including opening hours.
Postcode: SA72 6WS View Location Map