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This is a photo of the two lifeboat stations in St Davids (based in St Justinian's) looking towards Ramsey Island, taken late one evening in February 2020. The first station was opened in 1869 and the eight boats and dedicated voluntary crew have been involved in saving over 360 lives at sea across more than 420 launches.

The station was originally funded by appeals from local residents after there had been a number of shipwrecks over many years. The original station consisted of a boathouse and slipway and started with 'Augusta', which was donated by the Earl of Dartmouth and she stayed in service until 1885.

The next lifeboat was 'Gem', but this was wrecked on the bitches with three lives lost, when it was trying to carry out a rescue in October 1910. After two years without a lifeboat, a new station and slipway were built to accommodate the first powered boat 'General Farrell'- in service until 1936.

We then saw ‘Swn-y-Mor’, which, amongst many other rescues, was involved in saving 42 lives from the tanker, World Concord, which broke in two in hurricane force winds in 1956. 

The next boat was 'Joseph Soar', which came into service in 1963 and was converted for self righting in 1974. She saved 45 lives during her service.

In 1985 ‘Ruby and Arthur Reed’ was transferred from Cromer and served three years before ‘Garside’ arrived in 1988. This was a new Tyne Class lifeboat, which was superseded by a Tamar Class, ‘Norah Wortley’, in 2013.

In 1997, the station trialled an inshore lifeboat, following the withdrawal of the RAF helicopter from RAF Brawdy.

The station and slipways were widely refurbished and modernised in the 1990’s and in April 2013 the station received a new Tamar class boat, moored temporarily in the water, until the new station was built.

In 2014 the construction of the new station started, which included improved access and evacuation facilities at a cost of £9.5m.

The new station is a stone’s throw from the old one (as you can see in the photo) and Garside was launched for the last time in October 2016 before moving to Poole for decommissioning.

The new Tamar, ‘Norah Wortley’ was launched in October 2016 with an official ceremony to open the station in March 2017. The station employs two full time members (the Coxswain and Mechanic) as well as a number of volunteers, who all live within three miles of the station, so that, when their pager goes off, they can be on the boat in minutes.

Hamish Elvidge

October 2020