Historic Charterhouse Lifeboat to go on show in Fishguard

By Abigail Neal
BBC News

media captionA group are working to restore the 100-year-old Charterhouse boat

The story of one of Wales' most dramatic sea rescues will soon be on public display in Pembrokeshire.

The Charterhouse lifeboat crew became heroes overnight after successfully saving all but one member of a Dutch crew off Fishguard Harbour in 1920.

But it was decommissioned in 1931, sold off, and later kept by a family in north Wales for 60 years.

Now a group working to restore the 100-year-old vessel has won a £7,800 grant to promote its cause.

The Charterhouse was Fishguard's lifeboat from 1909 to 1931, and was the first in Wales to be fitted with an engine.

In 1920 a Dutch schooner got into trouble outside Fishguard Harbour and began dragging its anchor towards Needle Rocks.

The Charterhouse Lifeboat went to the rescue, but the heavy waves overpowered her engine and the mission was in peril.

Project chairman Richard Davies said: "They were out for seven hours in a howling gale, with torrential rain in an open boat.

"It was a horrendous night and the conditions they were in were terrible."

All but one of the Dutch crew were saved and the efforts of the Charterhouse men gained them a place in history.

image captionMembers of the Charterhouse Lifeboat crew involved with the rescue mission in 1920

A year later they travelled to London, along with the lifeboat, where they were awarded medals for bravery by the then Prince of Wales.

After it was decommissioned in 1931, the Charterhouse was sold off and eventually came into the possession of the Lomas family in north Wales where it stayed for nearly 60 years.

In 2009 a group of volunteers travelled to Porth Penrhyn and brought the boat back to Fishguard.

They plan to restore it and put it on public display at a new visitor centre planned for Fishguard Marina.

Charterhouse Returns project leader Robert Rees said: "Technologically she had a number of innovative features.

"She was one of the earlier styles of boat that were self-righting and motorised, with two sails and oars for 12 people to row."

Charterhouse Returns has now been awarded £7,800 from the Heritage Lottery Fund to help it promote the project.

Volunteers are looking to raise £100,000 to complete the restoration work.

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