Station history

In September 1835, J H Vivian, the local MP arranged with the Institution for the purchase of a lifeboat.  It was controlled by Swansea Harbour Trustees until 1863, when the Institution took over.  Lifeboats have always been stationed at Mumbles, but until 1904 the station was known as Swansea.  The branch continued to be called Swansea, Mumbles and Port Eynon branch until 1910, when Swansea became a separate financial branch.  Swansea and Mumbles became one branch again in 1940.

In early days the lifeboat was housed on the shore under the Mumbles cliffs and was launched and rehoused along a stone slipway by means of block and tackle.  After the first world war a lifeboat house was erected on piles alongside the pier and now a lifeboat can be launched at a moments notice, irrespective of the state of the tide.

1833

Silver Medal awarded to John Bevan, Master of the schooner Gower for rescuing six men from the brig Ann and Margaret, which went aground at Aberavon by swimming with the lead line round his body to the vessel on 14 October 1833.

1835

Silver Medal awarded to William Evans for rescuing two of the three crew from the sloop John that went aground at Neath on 26 October 1835.  One man was drowned trying to swim ashore so the Master and the other crewman took to the rigging in order to escape the full fury of the waves.  The Masters of several larger, decked boats, refused to help.  Mr Evans with four of his men rowed off in his smaller, open boat, and doggedly persevering, took off the two men.

1838

Silver Medal awarded to John Reeve, Master of Schooner Wave, for the part he played in the rescue of the three crew from the sloop Feronia that was wrecked on the Mixen off Swansea on 24 July 1838.

1839

Silver Medals awarded to Captain Thomas Jones, Captain John Howell, Captain Charles Sutton, Captain Joseph Foley, Arthur Rees and Lewis Jenkins for rescuing at the third attempt, the sea swamping and beating them back twice, five men from the brig Thomas Piele that was wrecked on a shallow shore near Port Talbot on 7 January 1839.

1840

Second-Service clasp to Silver Medal awarded to Captain Joseph Foley for rescuing two of the three men from the Mary bound from Cork to Portsmouth, which was wrecked near Port Talbot on 20 January 1840.  Captain Foley stripped off his clothes, made his way through the surf with a line around his waist and succeeded in rescuing the Master and remaining man from the rigging.  He fastened the line around each in turn then passed them to other seamen who had approached as near as they could to the wreck.

1863

Martha and Anne began service, named after the daughters of Michael Steel of Oxford, whose legacy had paid for her.

1866

Wolverhampton on service. She was lost, with four crew, in 1883.

1874

On 12 August 1874 The Board of Trade forwarded a binocular glass which had been received, through the Foreign Office from The Emperor of Germany for presentation to the coxswain, in recognition of the services rendered, when the German ship Triton of Eckernfőrd was wrecked on the Nixon Sand on the 29 August 1873.  The German Consul General had also been instructed to pay £4 to the crew of the lifeboat.

1883

Silver Medal awarded to Coxswain Jenkin Jenkins for the part he played on 27 January 1883 when trying to rescue the crew of the German barque Admiral Prinz Adalbert from the windward side, the lifeboat was thrown violently against her and swept over successive ridges of rocks by heavy seas.  Four of the crew, John and William Jenkins (sons of the coxswain), William MacNamara (son-in-law of the coxswain) and William Rogers lost their lives, the remainder were all more or less seriously injured.  The Institution granted £800 towards the fund raised for the widows and orphans.  Wolverhampton (ON229) replaces her namesake

1884

New lifeboat house constructed at a cost of £350.

1888

Slipway constructed at a cost of £110.

1896

Compensation paid for damage to oyster beds because of a low water launch on 27 July.

1897

Mumbles Railway & Pier Co constructed a mooring slipway free of charge.

1898

No.5 Reserve (ON173) brought to the station when the Wolverhampton’s planking was deemed to be decaying.

1900

James Stevens No 12 (ON436) brought to service. Capsized with the loss of 6 crew in 1903.

1902

Additional rocket distress signal post erected near the coastguard look-out on Mumbles Head.

1903

On 1 February the lifeboat, which had put out with the intention of helping the ss Christina of Waterford, which had grounded at Port Talbot on the previous evening, found that her help was not wanted, and made for Port Talbot harbour.  The lifeboat capsized off the entrance with the loss of six crew out of 14.  The Institution granted £1,200 towards the fund raised locally for the dependants.  One of the rescued, Tom Michael, was a survivor of the 1883 accident.  Those lost were Coxswain Thomas Rogers, Second Coxswain Daniell Claypitt, David John Morgan, George Michael, James Gammon and Robert Smith.  The lifeboat was damaged beyond repair. No. 4 reserve, Richard (ON248) and No 3A reserve, Quiver (ON265) in service from 1903 – 1905.

1905

Charlie Medland (ON535) began service.

1916

New slipway and approach gangway constructed.

1922

Alterations and extension of slipway carried out at a cost of £1,800.

1924

The Edward, Prince of Wales (ON678) began service. All crew were lost whilst on service in 1947

1935

Centenary Vellum presented.

1941

Bronze Medal awarded to Coxswain William J Gammon and to Mechanic Robert T Williams for the rescue of the crew of 10 of the steamer Cornish Rose of Liverpool that was dragging her anchors in pitch dark, mist and rain squalls in a whole south east gale and heavy breaking sea in Swansea Bay on 20 January 1941.  The vessel was very near the shore and rolling heavily.  The ordinary perils of the sea were greatly increased because the shore was thickly set with wartime iron rails defences but ignoring the dangers the coxswain took off the 10 man crew and landed them safely.

1944

Gold Medal awarded to Coxswain William J Gammon and the Bronze Medal to Mechanic William Gilbert Davies and Bowman Thomas J Ace for the rescue of the crew of 42 of a Canadian frigate Cheboque smothered in heavy seas on Port Talbot Bar on 11 October 1944.  In a series of 12 very hazardous approaches, with the lifeboat rising and falling like a lift, all 42 men were taken off the frigate.  The rescued Canadians spoke afterwards of the work of their rescuers as "magnificent" and "almost miraculous".  Two of the lifeboatmen were over 70, two were in their sixties and the average age of the crew was 55.  The Maud Smith award for the bravest act of life-saving in 1944 was awarded to Coxswain William J Gammon for this service.

1947

On 23 April the Edward Prince of Wales lifeboat was capsized and wrecked with the loss of her crew of eight after she had gone to help the ss Samtampa with a crew of 39 off Sker Point.  The Institution made a grant of £500 to the local fund and pays service scale pensions to the dependants.  The death roll that night was no less than 47.  The names of those lost were Coxswain William John Gammon, Second Coxswain William Noel, Mechanics William Gilbert Davies and Ernest Griffin, William Richard Scourfield Thomas, William L Howell, William Ronald Thomas and Richard Smith. William Gammon – Manchester and District (ON849) began service at a cost of £17,000.

1948

The Royal Humane Society awarded a Bronze Medal and the thanks certificate to Mechanic R J Gammon for his efforts on 18 November when a frogman doing renovation work lost his life.

1964

Silver Medal awarded to Coxswain Lionel Derek Scott and the Thanks of the Institution inscribed on Vellum awarded to Second Coxswain W Davies, Mechanic J Gammon, Assistant Mechanic W Tucker, Signalman J Bailey, K Kostromin, G Parsons, H Randall and J Whitford for the rescue of the crew of the Dutch motor vessel Kilo from their burning ship in a violent storm on the night of 17 November 1963.

1965

Inshore lifeboat station established in May with a D class lifeboat.  Operational summer months only.  The cost defrayed by the Rotary Club of Swansea.

1968

Bronze Medal to Coxswain Lionel Derek Scott and an additional monetary award to him and each of the lifeboat crew for the rescue of seven crew-members of the sand dredger Steepholm which grounded on the Tuskar Rock in a fresh west-south-westerly wind with a moderate to rough sea.  Six of the crew were rescued from life-rafts after which the lifeboat returned to the casualty for the master.  As he jumped aboard the lifeboat, the vessel was caught by a heavy sea and he fell between the Steepholm and the lifeboat, fortunately the second coxswain and a member of the crew were able to grab him before he fell into the water and he was pulled aboard unhurt.

1971

Silver Second-Service Clasp awarded to Coxswain Lionel Derek Scott BEM, in recognition of his courage when he put out in a small outboard motor dinghy and rescued a boy after his canoe capsized on 12 April 1971.  Leaving his wife to call out the inflatable lifeboat Coxswain Scott, in poor weather and turbulent confused seas drove the unstable dinghy towards the boy, who by now was very exhausted.  He unshipped the outboard, took him aboard, then re-shipped the engine and headed towards shore, meeting the inflatable lifeboat which took the casualty aboard.

The Thanks of the Institution inscribed on Vellum awarded to Helmsman Alan Richards Jones, crew members Peter Allan Algie and Anthony David Lewis for the rescue of three men from a cabin cruiser on 3 October.

1973

A Framed Letter of Thanks signed by the Chairman of the Institution, Commander F R H Swann, CBE, RNVR, was presented to crew member W Clements in recognition of his action when he leapt aboard the yacht Karfinn to secure a tow-line during the service by the lifeboat on 19 December in an east-south-easterly gale and a rough sea and during the tow back to Swansea with skill and determination managed to prevent the yacht from sheering uncontrollably.

1974

Pentland – Civil Service No. 31 (ON940) began service and served until 1985.

1980

Coxswain Lionel Derek Scott was presented with an engraved statuette of a lifeboatman by Mr Raymond Baxter, Chairman of the RNLI Public Relations Committee at the International Boat Show, Earls Court, on 9 January, in recognition of his radio and television broadcasts and numerous public talks over the years.

1981

The Thanks of the Institution inscribed on Vellum accorded to Coxswain Lionel Derek Scott BEM in recognition of his skill and determination when he put out in his rowing boat, and with great physical effort rescued the crew of two of a dinghy which had capsized approximately three quarters of a mile off Southend beach in a gentle breeze and a choppy sea with freezing temperature on 22 December.

1983

The Thanks of the Institution inscribed on Vellum accorded to Helmsman Anthony David Lewis in recognition of the calmness and determination he displayed when on 21 August he swam from the lifeboat to an unoccupied cabin cruiser which was burning fiercely and drifting towards a crowded Mumbles Pier.  Having secured a line he returned to the  lifeboat and towed the craft to deeper water where she sank.

1985

150th Anniversary Vellum presented to the station. The Ethel Anne Measures (ON1096) begins service.

1994

New boathouse constructed on the existing site of the old D class boathouse.  As well as housing the D class lifeboat it includes changing/drying room, toilet, crew room, kitchen, office, locker room and store rooms.

New D class lifeboat D-463 Nellie Grace Hughes was placed on service on 29 November

2002

Following the visit on 4 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 the station be earmarked for the allocation of an FSB2 in due course and that the replacement of the existing boathouse and slipway be progressed in order to ensure that the new facilities are available when required.  It was also resolved that there be no change to the ILB coverage at this station.

2004

The new class of lifeboat IB1, D-623 Peterborough Beer Festival 2 was placed on service on Thursday 15 July.  D-463 has been withdrawn.

2006

Ethel Anne Measures leaves and is replaced by Babs and Agnes Robertson (ON1127)

2009

For services to maritime safety in Swansea DLA Capt Roy Griffiths has been honoured by Her Majesty the Queen in the New Year Honours; Member, Order of the British Empire (MBE).

2013

The new station D Class lifeboat D-761 Mark Loft was placed on service 18 September 2013. This lifeboat was funded by the generous bequest of Dr Christine Elizabeth Quartley in memory of her nephew.  Lifeboat D623 Peterborough Beer Festival 2 has been withdrawn.

2014

A new Tamar class lifeboat, ON1307 Roy Barker IV was placed on service on 8 February 2014. This lifeboat was funded by the generous legacy of Mr Roy Barker together with other bequests and gifts.  Lifeboat ON1127 Babs and Agnes Robertson has been withdrawn.

MEDAL RECORD

Nineteen medals have been awarded, one Gold, 13 Silver and five Bronze, the last, a silver, being voted in 1971.