© Burry Port RNLI 2015

The RNLI is the charity that saves lives at sea

RNLI Lifeboat

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Burry Port RNLI

Saving lives at sea

RNLI LifeboatRNLI Lifeboat

Operational since 1973

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Burry Port RNLI history.


1869

The Llanelly station was re-opened at Pembrey, after some local pressure.  A special iron lifeboat provided and place on pilot/light vessel CERES (see Lifeboat Journal October 1869).  This was wrecked in October 1870.  The lifeboat and stores were recovered, but station closed.

1875

Lifeboat Journal August gives full description of Pembrey.

1887

Pembrey closed owing to constant increase of sand in the locality.

1887

The Institution formed a new lifeboat establishment at Burry Port, near Llanelly, and  placed there a large lifeboat, 37 feet long, 8 feet wide and rowing 12 oars.  This station became a necessity on the closure of the station at Pembrey due to the constant increase of sand there.  The cost of the station has been defrayed from a legacy bequeathed by the late Mrs J S Barclay of Edmonton and, in accordance with her wishes, the boat was named David Barclay of Tottenham after her late husband.  Lifeboat house cost £250 to construct, less allowance of £50 for old Pembrey lifeboat house.

1890

Terms agreed with local tug owners for use of their tugs, £15 each time tug towed out lifeboat on service and £5 on exercise.

1914

Station closed as the estuary was amply guarded by the neighbouring lifeboat station.

1973

Station re-opened with a D class lifeboat that became operational on 20 September.

1994

Extensive work to the boathouse was carried out in order to provide improved crew facilities.

New D class lifeboat D472 was placed on service on 18 October.

2001

Following the visit on 5 September 2001 by the Coast Review delegation, led by Commodore R C Hastie, it was agreed by the Search and Rescue Committee on 6 February 2002 and resolved by the Executive Committee at their meeting on 10 April 2002 that there be no change to the lifeboat cover provided at Burry Port Lifeboat Station.  It was also resolved that the potential use of a hovercraft in this area be further investigated along with the longer term requirement for a B class Altantic/FIBI inshore lifeboat.

2003

The new station D class lifeboat D611 The Young Watsons was placed on service on 17 September 2003.  This lifeboat was funded by Mr and Mrs WK Bache.  Lifeboat D472 Kip and Kath has been withdrawn to the relief fleet

2011

The new station D class lifeboat D749 Diane Hilary was placed on service in December 2011.  This lifeboat was provided by generous support of Mr David Cole.  Lifeboat D611 The Young Watsons  has been withdrawn to the relief fleet

2012

Following the visit on Wednesday 25 January 2012 by the Coast Review delegation, led by Rear Admiral John Tolhurst, it was agreed by the Operations Committee on 21 March 2012 and resolved by the Trustee Board at their meeting on 4 April 2012 that there be no change to the lifeboat cover provided by Burry Port Lifeboat Station and that the requirement for a B Class ILB is resolved on completion of the current trial in 2013.


RNLI Lifeboats have been guarding the dangerous Burry Estuary, which includes Carmarthen Bay eastward to Loughor together with the north coastline of the Gower Peninsula since 1852. The first Lifeboat was at Llanelly. It was provided by the Shipwrecked Fishermen and Mariners Benevolent Society. The boat was 26 feet long by 6 feet 4ins. pulled by 8 oars double banked. In 1854 the SFMBS handed over the boat to the newly named RNLI. The crews of this Lifeboat did sterling work over the next nine years including rescues at the extraordinary Broughton Bay disaster in 1868. A subsequent lifeboat was made of iron. This boat served from 1869 to 1871,

The Burry Estuary is one of the windiest areas in Britain and the majority of ship wrecks during the 19th Century occurred within its western approaches. The Llanelly Lifeboat was too far eastward to be effective. It was decided to build a new lifeboat house at Pembrey. From November 1863 the Pembrey boat was stationed close to the old Pembrey harbour. Subsequent storms put the boathouse in jeopardy. It was then decided to build a second boathouse in a plantation nearer to the village of Pembrey. This boathouse was furnished with a new lifeboat named 'Stanton Meyrick ofPimlico3. She was 32 feet long and had ten oars plus a coxswain. This boat was in service from 1871 to October 1886. Over this period it was found that windblown sand constantly blocked the main doors and this boathouse was abandoned in October 1886.

A new lifeboat house was built in 1887 and stands to this day on the eastern side of Burry Port Harbour. Between the years 1887 and 1914 three successive lifeboats all named the 'David Barclay of Tottenham' were in service at Burry Port. These lifeboats were launched on a wheeled carriage running on rails across the quay and down a stone slipway into the harbour waters. During this period of 27 years no less than 34 lives were saved from drowning.

The constant need for a lifeboat at Burry Port diminished and on 2nd April 1914 the Station was closed down and the Lifeboat sold locally in the following month. The coastal area was now covered by the Ferryside Lifeboat. On June 30th 1960 the Ferryside station was closed down and the Tenby and Mumbles stations could cover any likely contingencies at that time.

However during the next 13 years boating activity in Carmarthen Bay increased dramatically and instances of drowning reached an alarming level. Something

had to be done to protect lives at sea.

A small group of eminent local mariners, including our first President and Lord Lieutenant, Sir David Mansel Lewis, decided to request the RNLI headquarters

at Poole to re-establish a new lifeboat at Burry Port. It was also requested that the old existing boathouse be used to accommodate the new boat and

all its necessary equipment. The RNLI acknowledged the dire need to establish a new lifeboat on an urgent basis. The old 1887 Lifeboat House was

then re-opened, re-furbished, and from 1973 a new ILB (Inshore Lifeboat) number D220 was put on service.

Mr Herwood Phillips of Harbour View was then appointed the new Station's Honorary Secretary. He was tasked with the establishment of a

well-trained and qualified crew and also a working Boathouse Committee. The following year, an enthusiastic Ladies Guild was established to deal

with local fund-raising for the RNLI. Ladies Guilds, now re-named Lifeboat Fundraising Branches to increase the eligibility of volunteers, are a vital

source of income to the RNLI with each Branch having its own working committee. To date the fundraisers at Burry Port have raised well over £100,000.

Over the past 40 years a keen cavalcade of dedicated young men and women have served and given their total commitment to the Lifeboat Institution.

Many have completed 20 years and more as volunteers and this has been duly acknowledged by many long service awards.

Following a Coastal review in 2009, the need for a second larger, more powerful craft was identified, and on 30th July 2010 a second type of lifeboat,

an Atlantic 75 was added to supplement the D Class.

Since the reopening of the station in September 1973 to date, the Burry Port Lifeboats have launched on more than 665 service calls, undoubtedly

saving many lives and landing or assisting hundreds of casualties.

As a charity the Royal National Lifeboat Institution relies entirely on the support of the general public to train and equip its volunteer crews

throughout the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland.

Past Service Lifeboats

D-220 (1973-1987) donated by Tiverton Swimming Club

D-331 (1987-1995) ‘Dorothy Way’
(Funded by legacy)

D-472 (1995-2003) ‘Kip and Kath
(Funded by legacy)

D-611 (2003 to 2011) ‘The Young Watsons’ donated by Bill and Ann Bache.

Current Service Lifeboats

B-777 (2014 to date)
‘Leicester Challenge II’

D-749 (2011 to date) ‘Diane Hilary’ donated by David Cole

B-768 (2010 to 2011) ‘Blue Peter II’ donated to the RNLI by the BBC’s children’s programme Blue Peter.

B-731 (2011 to 2014) ‘Dorothy Selina’ donated by Pat & Erica Russel