St Davids Lifeboat Station

St Davids Lifeboat Station
RNLI Lifeboat station
Three boathouses shown in 2016 (newest on right)
Country Wales, UK
County Pembrokeshire
Town St Davids
Location St Davids, Pembrokeshire, Wales
 - coordinates 51°52′45″N 5°18′32″W / 51.87905°N 5.30897°W / 51.87905; -5.30897Coordinates: 51°52′45″N 5°18′32″W / 51.87905°N 5.30897°W / 51.87905; -5.30897
Owner Royal National Lifeboat Institution
St Davids, Pembrokeshire

St Davids Lifeboat Station (based in St Justinian, St Davids, Pembrokeshire, Wales) is a Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) station. It was opened in 1869 and to date has been involved in saving over 360 lives at sea in more than 420 launches.[1] The station operates both an all-weather and an inshore lifeboat.


The station was established by the RNLI in 1869 following appeals from local residents after a number of shipwrecks nearby. The Institution had already awarded a silver medal to local man Thomas M Rees for risking his life in an incident in 1867. The station, consisting of a boathouse and slipway at Porthstinan (St Justinians), was provided with the 32-foot Augusta, donated by the Earl of Dartmouth. Augusta remained in service until 1885, saving 23 lives.[2]

From 1885 to 1910 16 lives were saved by the crew of the station's new lifeboat, Gem. The lifeboat was wrecked on The Bitches reef during a rescue on 13 October 1910, and three crewmen drowned: Coxswain John Stephens, and lifeboatmen Henry Rowlands and James Price. Papers concerning the loss are held at Pembrokeshire Record Office (Ref:DX/93/11).[3] A temporary lifeboat, Charlotte, was stationed at Porthclais for two years; meanwhile, a new station and slipway were constructed to accommodate the station's first motor-powered lifeboat, General Farrell.[2]

General Farrell remained on station until 1936, her crew saving 17 lives in the intervening years. She was replaced by Swn-y-Mor which saw one of the busiest periods in the station's history, her crews saving 108 lives in her 26 years of service which was marked in 1956 by the loss of lifeboatman Ieuan Bateman. A couple of years earlier the tanker World Concord broke in two in hurricane-force winds; a combined effort by St Davids and Rosslare Harbour lifeboats rescued 42 people from the tanker.[4]

Swn-y-Mor had been donated by the Civil Service Lifeboat Fund, and the same institution donated the next lifeboat, Joseph Soar, in 1963. Already fitted with some innovative equipment, she was converted for self-righting in 1974, and during her tenure the crew saved 45 lives.[2] As of 2015, Swn-y-Mor was still operating as a private yacht, rigged as gaff ketch motor sailer.[5]

Joseph Soar was transferred to Dunbar in 1985 sold by the RNLI in 1992 where she was given a civic send-off at Poole; as of 2012 she was still operating, as a pleasure craft in Northern Ireland, and undergoing a complete refit in 2013. She had the distinction of having one of the longest services (27 years) in the RNLI's history.[6][7]

St Davids in 2009

From 1985 to 1988 the station's all-weather lifeboat was Ruby & Arthur Reed, formerly on station at Cromer where she had already been involved in saving 58 lives and enabled a further 9 lives to be saved at St Davids. She was replaced by Garside, a new Tyne class lifeboat which, until superseded in 2013 by Tamar class lifeboat Norah Wortley,[8] had been launched more than 160 times.

After the withdrawal of the RAF Rescue Service helicopter from nearby RAF Brawdy, St Davids trialled an inshore lifeboat in 1997, and the following year took possession of a permanent addition to the station of a D-class ILB, Dewi Sant (Saint David). This was replaced in 2008 by Myrtle & Trevor Gurr. The lifeboat station and slipways were modernised extensively in the 1990s.[2] In April 2013 St. David's New Tamar-class lifeboat was placed on station, temporarily moored afloat pending construction of the new boathouse and slipway. In certain weather conditions, the Tamar has to be removed to a safe anchorage and for this reason the Tyne class Garside has remained on station in the 1910s boathouse, with St Davids in the unusual situation of operating two ALBs at the same time.[9]


The station employs two full-time members, Coxswain and Mechanic. The remaining crew, who all live within about 3 miles of the station, are volunteers and are contacted by pager when needed.[10] Neighbouring lifeboat stations are Fishguard to the north, Little and Broad Haven to the south and Rosslare Harbour in Ireland to the west.

In 2014 construction started on a new larger lifeboat house and slipway capable of accommodating the Tamar-class, with improved access for bringing in equipment and evacuating casualties and more extensive modern facilities; the cost is in the region of £9.5 million. The new facility is a short distance from the existing boathouse which remains in service.[11] The Norah Wortley was launched from the new station for the first time on 21 October 2016.[12]

The lifeboat station is the embarkation point for ferries to Ramsey Island.


All Weather Boats

Dates in service Class ON Op. No. Name
1869–1885 32ft Self-Righter (P&S 10 oars) Augusta
1885–1910 Self-Righter (12 oars) ON 59 Gem
1912–1936 40ft Self-Righter (Motor) ON 614 General Farrell
1936–1963 46ft Watson-class ON 784 Swn-y-Mor (Civil Service No. 6)
1963–1985 47ft Watson-class ON 971 Joseph Soar (Civil Service No. 34)
1985–1988 48ft 6in Oakley-class ON 990 48-03 Ruby and Arthur Reed
1988–present Tyne-class ON 1139 47-026 Garside
2013–present Tamar-class ON 1306 16-26 Norah Wortley

Inshore Lifeboats

Dates in service Class Op. No. Name
1998–2008 D-class (EA16) D-543 Dewi Sant
2008–present D-class (IB1) D-704 Myrtle & Trevor Gurr

Neighbouring Station Locations

See also


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