Sea zoo and museum plan for Fishguard, Pembrokeshire

Ferry arriving at Fishguard The company behind the marina plan said it could be worth up to £100m for the area

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A lobster hatchery, maritime museum and sea zoo could be part of a 450-berth marina planned for the ferry port in Fishguard, Pembrokeshire.

If given the go-ahead, a cinema and seal hospital could also be built, while it is hoped an Angel of the North-style statue will be erected.

Investment firm Conygar, working with ferry operator Stena Line, is seeking planning consent for the marina.

Fishguard mayor Richard Davies said the development was "desperately needed".

Outline planning permission for the marina is being sought in January but details of what will be there are already being discussed between the companies and local people.

Lifeboat building

Mr Davies, who has been part of the talks, said it was hoped the marina would be home to a lobster hatchery.

New home for old lifeboat

The Charterhouse circa 1910

Central to plans for the new marina are a maritime and rail museum, which would display the town's old Charterhouse lifeboat

The Charterhouse was Wales' first motorised lifeboat when it was launched in the town in 1909.

Over 20 years later, it was taken out of service and sold in 1931.

Nobody knew where the lifeboat went and it was forgotten about until two local men, Phil Davies and Phil Rees, started researching the old vessel.

They eventually tracked it down to Beaumaris on Anglesey. It had been bought by the Lomas family, who had refitted the vessel.

The family sold the Charterhouse - now called Marian - back to Fishguard for £1 in 2009 - 100 years after it was first launched.

Since then local campaigners have been stripping the boat back and intend to restore it to how it originally looked, working with the original plans and old photographs.

They are being helped by a team of local school children and estimate the job will take a few years to complete.

Retired school teacher Rob Rees, who is in charge of the boat's restoration, said: "We would like the lifeboat to be on display at the marina.

"But we don't just want it to just be an exhibit - we want it to be interactive, so that kids can go on board and learn all about its history.

"The boat has a fascinating past. Although it was motorised, the engine was so small that twelve people still needed to row it.

"After one rescue, the captain was awarded a gold medal from the ling. The crew all went to London and even took the lifeboat - they craned it onto a train."

A sea zoo is also planned and a rehabilitation centre for sick and injured seals and dolphins, which are common in nearby Cardigan Bay.

Mr Davies also said he was in discussions with Conygar about them providing a building to display Fishguard's first motorised lifeboat - the Charterhouse - which was sold in 1931, but found by local campaigners and returned to the town in 2009.

School children have joined with others in the community to restore the boat.

Something for holidaymakers

"The long term plan is to get it back to how it was," said Mr Davies.

"Part of the marina project will be to provide a building for it to go on display. We are hoping it will be part of a maritime and rail museum for the town."

He said the development would revitalise the town, which he claimed was "dying on its feet".

"To have a lobster hatchery here would be brilliant. There is one in Padstow [in Cornwall] and it is amazing," the mayor said.

"That and the sea zoo and seal hospital could be places for children to come on school trips and it would also provide something for holidaymakers to come to see.

"We would be providing attractions for visitors and that's what we need - they would be different from the places of interest in other parts of Pembrokeshire, like Oakwood.

"And we'd hopefully get day trippers from Ireland so that would be good for the ferry too."

Local opposition

A cCinema, restaurants and shops were also planned, he said, while it was hoped a sculpture, like the Angel of the North, would take pride of place.

"There has been a little bit of opposition in the town to all of this, but it's mainly been because locals were worried they would lose their slipway for their boats at the port," he said.

"But I have had a written assurance from Conygar that they will still have a slipway, which will be free of charge to locals, and a car park."

Planning permission for a marina at Fishguard was granted to the Anglesey Boat Company in 2003.

It was acquired by the The Conygar Investment Company in 2008, which is behind the latest plans.

A spokesperson said: "Conygar is keen to see the marina development become a success and that would include various business opportunities that would create jobs and attract people to the site."

Conygar previously said if granted the new application will supersede the existing planning consent and provide a development of greater scale and opportunity.

The firm claims the marina could be worth up to £100m providing a major boost to the area's economy.

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