by  • July 23, 2013 • Modern, Pembrokeshire, Post-Medieval, St. Dogmaels • 3 Comments


    By December 1644 the frigate “Convent” had been wrecked near Cardigan and her guns taken for the defence of Cardigan Castle. On 23rd August 1704 the “John & Ann” was wrecked near Cardigan fetching a cargo of oranges and lemons from Lisbon under the command of Captain Guy. In October 1706 the “Major Pincke” was wrecked near Cardigan and a similar fate befell the “Samuel” in January 1707.

    On October 1st 1789 the Vicar of St. Dogmaels, Rev. William Jones, made the following entry in the parish register:

    “…A most melancholy catastrophe happened on the Cardigan Bar, between four and five o’clock this morning. The fishermen having taken up their nets with a great quantity of herrings were lying under the shelter between Little Quay and Allt-y-Coed waiting the turn of the tide to carry them in, the wind being then South West, and blew an easy gale. It suddenly turned to North West, and blew a kind of hurricane, a most tremendous storm ensued the sea running mountains high carrying everything before it and making the most dreadful ravages, the fishing boats were dispersed and scattered, some thrown on the beach, and some on the rocks. Three more unfortunate than the rest, overset and every man on board (except two Englishmen who saved themselves by swimming) were swallowed up by the angry elements to the number of 27…

    On 21st November 1799 the ‘Otter’, bound from Liverpool to London, was lost at sea off Cardigan, and the crew landed at Cardigan. In September 1800 the “St. Johannes” was lost near Cardigan. In ballast, she was heading from Liverpool to Falmouth under the command of Captain Blandon. The same month the “De Jung Jacob” ran aground nearby en route from Dublin to Malaga under the command of Captain O’Berg. In November 1801 the 32 ton ‘Peggy’ of Newport, Pembrokeshire, ran aground on the Cardigan Bar en route to Bristol from Liverpool with a cargo of salt. On 7th January 1805 the “John”, built at Bridgewater, was driven onto Cardigan Bar by the weather. Under Captain John Owens she was taking a cargo of rock salt from Liverpool to Kinsale. All hands were rescued by the St. Dogmaels fishermen, despite extremely rough seas. The waves breaking over the “John” soon rendering the vessel a wreck. Part of the vessel broke up and was washed ashore. She had been adrift for twenty days with her crew and an Irish pilot, and they had subsisted on potatoes for much of that time.

    On 3rd December 1806 the “Milford” of Wiscasset, built at Edgecomb, Massachussets in 1805, was driven ashore onto the Cardigan Bar. The 214 ton vessel had set out from Liverpool with a cargo of salt and coal bound for Wilmington on 23rd November, but ran into bad sea conditions. She became a complete wreck. The “Eliza” of Ipswich was driven onto the Cardigan Bar on the same day. In October 1811 the “Amphithrite” of Aberystwyth was lost at sea. The only evidence was the body of crewman Griffith Owen, washed up near Cardigan. On 5th March 1812 the sloop “Beginning” of Cardigan was wrecked on the rocks adjoining Cardigan Island. Heading from Dundalk to Plymouth she had been sheltering from poor weather when the incident happened. The Captain, Evan Francis,  and two crew, one of them John Richards, were drowned. On October 27th 1815 William Evan, 29, and Thomas George, 26, both of St. Dogmaels, were drowned together with two other men who were coming home from fishing. The parish register notes the following:

    “…Two of the men saved themselves, one on an oar and the other man on the mast. Those men that were drowned were without swimming, and those that escaped the furious element were not. The same morning a boat sank off Aberporth and 9 persons perished…”

    On 21st September 1824 the 59 ton sloop “Lively” of Aberystwyth (built in 1807 at Aberystwyth) foundered off Cardigan in a severe gale. She had set off from her home port the previous day, bound for Carmarthen, in ballast. The crew were saved. On 14th October 1824 the sloop “Union” of Aberystwyth under Captain Delahoyd, was lost off Cemaes Head in a gale, delivering a cargo of culm from Neath. The crew was saved. In August 1825 the sloop ‘Mary of Cardigan’ was lost en route to Holyhead. The captain, sole owner, was lost together with his two young children and crew. On 7th October 1825 the 169 ton brig “Active” of Whitehaven was driven ashore near Cardigan Bar during a heavy gale. The vessel had been under the command of Master Johnston from Quebec. The vessel was completely wrecked and the master and two crew drowned. In 1827 the R. N. L. I. provided a lifeboat for Cardigan, but it was wrecked in August en route.

    In 1840 the sloop “Jenny” of Cardigan was lost with a cargo of culm en route from Milford to Cardigan. On 2nd October 1841 the 27 ton sloop “Peggy” (built in 1782) was lost on Cardigan Bar en route from Caernarfon to Milford Haven. On 25th October 1843 the 33 ton sloop “Packet” of Cardigan (built 1836 Cardigan) ran aground with the loss of all hands. On November 1st 1843 John Edwards, Owen Edwards and Robert Jones were buried at St. Dogmaels. All hailed from Barmouth and were victims of the wreck of the smack “Margaretta”. In November 1843 the 136 ton brig “Hampton” (built 1841, New Brunswick) was washed ashore. Under the command of Captain Rowlands she was bound for Marseiles from Liverpool. Crew and cargo were saved and the vessel was later salvaged and returned to sea. The packet “Bristol Trader” of Cardigan was totally wrecked in the same storm with the loss of the crew, and two other schooners and a sloop were lost in Cardigan Bay, names unknown. In 1843 the Cardigan sloop ‘Rachel’, 33 tons, was lost with all hands trying to negotiate Cardigan Bar in a heavy swell. On 7th February 1845 the following appeared in the ‘Pembrokeshire Herald‘:

    “…Great anxiety was felt in the above town on Tuesday last, in consequence of a messenger arriving to inform the Custom-house officers, that a schooner, apparently capsized, being on her broadside, was seen floating near to Ceybur, Pembrokeshire, without a soul to be seen about her, and her rigging and spars lying along her side. The custom-house officers lost no time in repairing to the spot, where they found the news to be true. Nothing on that day could be done to save the vessel or cargo, but on Wednesday she righted, and several of the Saint Dogmell’s fisherman, by great dint of perseverance and personal risk, succeeded in discharging a great many sacks of flour (with which she appeared to be laden) which is now being brought to Cardigan, and landed under the charge of Lloyd’s agent. Part of her stern has been washed ashore, and her name is found to be the “Azores Packet of Plymouth”. She is a beautifully built vessel, coppered-bottomed, and apparently about 120 tons burthen. Lloyd’s agents for Fishguard and Cardigan are using their utmost endeavours to secure the vessel and cargo, and we hope that they will not be frustrated in their object. Of the poor unfortunate crew, nothing can be said; probably, if the vessel capsized, they have met with a watery grave but it is to he hoped that seeing the vessel leaking or otherwise unfit for sea, they took to the boats, and either arrived safe at some port, or were picked up by some other vessel. Too much praise cannot be given both to the custom-house authorities or to Lloyd’s agent tor their promptness in attending to the call of the messenger, and endeavouring to save vessel and cargo…”

    On 21st December 1845 the sloop “Victory” of Pembroke struck Cardigan Bar early in the afternoon. As the vessel flooded the crew took to the rigging and lashed themselves to the top mast. For sixteen hours they were battered by the waves until a lifeboat came to their rescue when the weather abated. The men survived, but were in a poor state when rescued. In December 1845 the “Louisa” of Perth (built 1840 Perth) was wrecked on the Cardigan Bar, but was later salvaged, repaired in Cardigan, and returned to sea. Her crew were saved. On 26th December 1845 the ‘Pembrokeshire Herald‘ carried the following report:

    “…On Sunday evening last, we had a heavy gale of wind, and the Victory, sloop of this port, Captain George, ran ashore near the Perch. We fear she will be a total wreck. We are happy to say the crew were all saved by the intrepidity of the St. Dogmells fishermen. —On Monday we had a continuation of the gale day and night, and on Wednesday morning early, a schooner was seen with a flag of distress flying, on the Pembrokeshire side. Much to the credit of the St. Dogmells fishermen and boat- men, they manned two boats, and proceeded to render the vessel in distress assistance, but unfortunately failed in the morning in getting a rope on board, but were obliged to leave her at the risk of their lives-they, about three o’clock returned again—manned the boats—returned to the vessel, and to the disgrace of the captain and crew, after the boats had left the shore, and were getting near the vessel, in consequence of the gale abating a little, they lowered the flag of distress but the boats undaunted, persevered, and boarded her, and she proved to be the Louisa, of Perth, Captain Forbes, with a crew of seven in number; with a general cargo, bound for Gibraltar, Malta, and Corfu. The captain and crew were brought ashore. Too much praise cannot be bestowed upon the gallant men who risked their lives to save those of their fellow creatures we trust they will be amply rewarded. Great credit is due to David Davies, Esq., the agent for Lloyd’s, who was upon the beach to render every assistance to the crew and gallant men, when they were safe ashore. We trust that the authorities will now see the necessity of a life-boat and pier, for the protection of life and property...”


    On 2nd January 1846 the following appeared in the ‘Pembrokeshire Herald‘:

    “…CARDIGAN. The ‘Louisa’, of Perth, which was wrecked on the Bar last week, has discharged her cargo, which is considerably damaged, and she is now brought up to Mr. David Owen’s ship-yard, to be repaired. Considerable repairs are required, according to the directions of Lloyd’s surveyor of this port, and the captains appointed on the survey. We are happy to say that the crew was relieved by the Merchant Seaman’s Fund. The sloop ‘Victory’, of this port, we are sorry to say, is a total wreck, not a vestige of her to be seen…”

    In 1846 Thomas Davies of Bank House, Cardigan, acted as secretary of a fund to purchase a lifeboat for the district. On 10th December 1847 the following appeared in the ‘Pembrokeshire Herald:

    “…CARDIGAN.— We regret to state that the schooner Erin, of Wexford, got on shore on the Pembrokeshire side of the bar, above Penrhin Castle, on Monday night, during the severe gale. The crew were saved by the assistance of the St Dogmell’s boatmen. She is damaged, and has commenced discharging her cargo of oats, with which she was bound to Liverpool. On Tuesday afternoon, the brig Caroline, of Liverpool, Capt. Honey, from St. John’s, New Brunswick, laden with timber for Liverpool, got on the bar, and on launching the jolly-boat it was immediately swamped. We are glad to say that the captain, his wife, and the crew, eleven in number, were got off from the vessel by the intrepid conduct of the St. Dogmell’s fishermen. On Tuesday night she shifted nearer the Pembrokeshire side, and at low water, on examining her, the keel was found to be broken, and that she had unshipped her rudder. The weather was not so severe on Wednesday during the day, but it blew a strong gale from the S. W. at night. We have at present not heard of any fresh calamities; but we hope the St. Dogmell’s fishermen will be rewarded for their intrepid and meritorious conduct on this occasion. A LIFE-BOAT, which has been long talked of at Cardigan, would at the present season of the year be of great service. There have been many beneficial freights to the shipowners this last year, and their liberality could not be better bestowed than in having one built at this port, which has capabilities for so doing. It would be the means of rescuing valuable lives, and would be attended with but very little expense…”

    As a result of the loss of the 305 ton brig “Agnes Lee” (built 1842 Hawarden) of North Shields with nine lives, on the Cardigan Bar on 11th January 1849, Cardigan received its’ first official lifeboat before the end of the year. Captain George Bowen of Plas Newydd, St. Dogmaels, was rewarded for his bravery in saving two men from the wreck, with the position of coxswain of the new lifeboat. The lifeboat was 24ft. long and was stationed at Traeth Bach, Poppit. The victims of the tragedy were buried at St. Dogmaels on 14th January 1849 – John Andrews, 30; Frances Peterson, 17; Richard Stephen, 15; Michael Tobin, 28; James, 15; Henry King, 38; and Charles Thomas, 28. The Captain, John Clarence, his wife Elizabeth Clarence and their infant son were taken home for burial. The survivors were Charles Fortune, Timothy Horilton, Thomas Clement and Michael Pearce. The first three of these had swum for the shore, but Michael Pearce was lashed to the mainmast for 24 hours without clothing or food before he could be saved. The following appeared in the ‘Pembrokeshire Herald’ on 19th January 1849:



    On Thursday, the 11th inst., it blew a violent gale from the north-west, when, about three o’clock in the afternoon, a large vessel was seen to run into the breakers on Cardigan Bar. Several attempts were made to get to the vessel by the St. Dogmells boats, but without effect, in consequence of the roughness of the sea The crew, twelve in number, took to the boat, which was immediately swamped. The fishermen, and others on the shore, joined hands and went into the water, at the risk of their lives, and succeeded in rescuing three of the crew from a watery grave. The sufferers were quite insensible, but the usual remedies were resorted to and in a short time they were perfectly restored. One of the survivors, named John Fortune, who was the mate of the vessel, stated her name to be the Agnes Lee, of North Shields, John Clarence master, bound from Cork to Liverpool, with a cargo of wheat from Alexandria, having left Cork on the 3th inst., where she had been waiting for orders. One of the crew, in his distress, took to the rigging, and on Friday morning some boats boarded her and took him away in a very exhausted state. The master’s wife and child joined him at Cork, and were unfortunately drowned on this occasion. The bodies of three of the crew, and the master’s wife and child, were washed on shore on Friday morning Much credit is due to Captain George Bowen, St. Dogmell’s who, with several others, went into the water and saved the three men. Every attention has been paid to the survivors by the gallant fishermen of St. Dogmalls, and we trust these brave men will be rewarded for their noble exertions upon this occasion. Mr. David Davies, agent for Lloyd’s attended on Thursday night and gave the necessary directions respecting the survivors and the wreck. On Sunday, three more of the crew were washed on shore. There was no inquest held upon the bodies. On the same day five of them were interred in St. Dogmell’s churchyard, and were followed to the grave by a large concourse of persons.


    Amongst the individuals who took an active part in the relief of the sufferers, were—the Mayor of Cardigan, Wm. Phillips, Esq. and Mr. George Bowen. Two of the bodies were interred on Monday. The remains of the master’s wife and infant, were left in St. Dogmell’s Church until directions were received from the owners. The master’s father arrived at St Dogmells on Wednesday night, but the body has not been found. The wreck still lies beating where she struck. The cargo is floating up every tide, and is taken away in carts bags, and baskets. Pieces of the vessel are floating on shore and are collected together by the agent, and it appears that the expense of collecting the cargo will be more than it will realise. We have an excellent place for a harbour of refuge materials are plentiful, and labour is cheap, and if made use of would be a considerable saving of life and property in the course of a few years, there being nothing of the sort on the Welsh coast between Milford and Holyhead,


    [We have received a letter from one who describes himself as a witness to the above lamentable shipwreck on the Cardigan Bar. Attributing this catastrophe to the absence of a life-boat, the writer states that money had been subscribed to purchase one, and that, whatever some parties may say to the contrary, this can be proved. He also states that the late member for the Cardiganshire boroughs gave a handsome sum of money towards defraying the expense of placing marks, or buoys, on the bar, which money does not appear to have been expended for any such purpose. With these statements, he appeals to the tradesmen and labouring classes of Cardigan, to come forward and get this business adjusted. The letter itself is so full of irrelevant matter, that we cannot print it in full. The above is the substance of what the writer takes two sides of foolscap to communicate…”

    In July 1849 the smack “Ann” of Cardigan struck at Jack Sound near Milford Haven and sank almost immediately, but the crew were saved. On 6th February 1850 the 296 ton “Thetes” of Liverpool was wrecked on Cardigan Bar during a storm. Only the master and one other of the crew of thirteen were saved. The lifeboat failed to reach the stricken vessel on the first attempt and eventually returned to the shore for a fresh crew, which also failed to reach the “Thetis”. A third crew finally succeeded as the “Thetis” broke up into pieces, and saved the two crew members. A third, John Hayes, died soon after reaching the shore. Nine of the drowned men were buried in St. Dogmaels churchyard. The exceptions were the wife and child of the Captain, who were buried in Caernarfon. On 9th February 1850 James ??; John Fleming, 25; John Smith, 45; and Coenelius Dinsey, 49, were all buried at St. Dogmaels having drowned on the Cardigan Bar. On 8th February 1850 the following report appeared in the ‘Pembrokeshire Herald‘:



    We have to record one of the most serious shipwrecks that ever occurred at this bar, which took place in open day, and in the presence of several hundreds of individuals, on Wednesday, the 6th inst. On the morning of the said day, about 9 o’clock, a brig was seen to run into the breakers, and immediately the life-boat was sought for and manned, but being placed in an improper place, it was unable to reach the vessel, although four attempts were courageously made by different crews. The hurricane continuing with unabated fury, that about one o’clock the vessel went onto her side, then on her masts, and soon after went to pieces. Three of the crew were saved on pieces of the wreck—two picked up by the life-boat and the other drifted ashore, which proved to be the master. They were taken to the Webley Arms, at Poppet, and every attention was paid them. We regret to say one of them died about an hour after being in the house. She proves to be the brig Thetis, of Limerick, 297 tons register, Donahue, master, bound from Newport,. with a cargo of coals and wood-hoops, which place she left on the 30th ult. It appears from the master’s account that on the 5th, 2, p.m., they lost their sails and boats, and were beating about the channel till they run on the bar.


    This is the second fatal wreck we have had within the last 13 months. We have now a life-boat at this port, and by this sad disaster we trust the managers will procure a more suitable place to keep it. If the boat had been placed in the house originally intended for it, every soul on board may have been rescued from a watery grave. The implements connected with the life-boat ought to be with it, and not let out for pleasure purposes during the summer. The life-belts were in Cardigan, and were obliged to be sent for. We must give the brave men who volunteered in the boat every credit, for no fear or disinclination was manifested, and the boat is beyond all doubt a capital sea boat. David Davies, Esq., agent of Lloyd’s, was on the sands and at Poppet House, paying every attention under the melancholy disaster. As harbours of refuge are much wanted on the Welsh coast, we trust some member in conjunction with some Welshmen who represent an English constituency in the present parliament, will impress upon the government the necessity of a refuge harbour between Milford and Liverpool…”


    A new 27ft. long lifeboat was purchased in 1850 and was sailed from Cowes by the local lifeboat crew. On 1st March 1850 the following appeared in the ‘Pembrokeshire Herald‘:

    “…CARDIGAN~THE LATE WRECK.—We are glad to announce that Messrs. White, of Cowes, the builders of the life-boat, forwarded £ 5 to Capt. Bowen, St. Dogmells, to be laid out amongst the crews that volunteered upon the occasion of the “Thetis” of Limerick, at this bar, on the 6th ult. The life-boat is now removed to the place originally intended for it by Mr. Daniel Rees, of the barque ‘Maria’. Mr. George Bowen, the late captain of the life-boat, has been engaged in removing the wreck, and has ultimately succeeded, which will prove of great benefit to the navigation of the river. The rudder and other parts of the wreck have been washed ashore at Treathsaith, near Aberporth. It is hoped it will not be removed till it is fetched by the proper owner. We understand that there has been a great dispute respecting the salvage of the vessel. It is at present unknown when and where it is likely to end…”

    On 29th October 1851 the 26 ton sloop “Taff of Twenty Two” (Built 1822, Cardiff) was lost at the mouth of the Teifi. On 30th January 1852 the 37-ton smack “Betsey” of Barmouth grounded on the Cardigan Bar. She had been taking a cargo of coal to Caernarfon from Milford Haven. The three crewmen were rescued by a boat from the shore. On 6th November 1852 the 42 ton smack “Sussex” was lost on the Cardigan Bar. On 22nd December 1852 another “Thetis” was lost. An 81-ton Cardigan schooner (built 1821 at Chepstow), she sank crossing the Cardigan Bar. The cargo was later salvaged.

    In 1857 John Morris of Sea-View, St. Dogmaels, became the new coxswain of the lifeboat. On 10th November 1858 the 55 ton Cardigan schooner “Mary” was blown onto the rocks near Closygraig, Mwnt, on her way home with a cargo of Caernarfon slates. Her masts were visible in the water for many months afterwards and became something of a local landmark. In 1859 the ‘Good Hope’ of Cardigan was lost en route to Haverfordwest. On May 5th 1859 the Cardigan smack ‘Mary’ was run down and sunk by the Cardigan ship ‘Tivy’ which carried a cargo of slates. The crew of the stricken vessel scrambled aboard the ‘Tivy’ and were saved. On 25th October 1859 the 47 ton smack  “Morning Star” of Aberystwyth was lost off Cardigan Head with three lives. The bodies were washed up at Ceibwr and were returned to Aberystwyth for burial. These were victims of a ferocious gale that developed into a hurricane, and that sank 133 vessels in one night on the British coast. On the same night the 59-ton Aberystwyth dandy “Margaret Lloyd” sank near Cardigan Island. On 21st January 1861 the 49 ton schooner “Dewi Wyn” of Porthmadog, got into difficulties while trying to negotiate the Cardigan Bar. The lifeboat team successfully rescued the crew of eight. William Niles was the new coxswain that year. The following appeared in ‘Potter’s Electric News‘ for 30th January 1861:

    “…LIFE BOAT SERVICES, CARDIGAN, Jan 23.-During a heavy ground sea, and the wind blowing fresh from N. W., the schooner ‘Dewi Wynn’,’from Portmadoc, was stranded on a bank in Cardigan Bay, on Monday last. As soon as the signal of distress, indicating the perilous position of the shin, were seen, the life-boat of the National Life Boat Institution was manned and launched. On approaching the wreck, the sea was breaking completely over her; but after some difficulty the schooner’s crew of four men and four hovellers, were taken off by the life-boat, and afterwards safely brought on shore. This life-boat has been some years on her station, but has never previously had an opportunity to save life. It is, however, evident that in her absence on the present occasion, the lives of eight poor men would seriously have been imperilled…”

    On 24th January 1862 the brig “Pioneer” of Caernarfon, en route from Galatz to Rotterdam with wheat and tallow, attempted to shelter from a storm near Poppit. The anchors began to drag and the ship moved closer to the rocks of Cardigan Island. The key to the lifeboat-house could not be found, delaying the launch of the boat. The crew of the brig launched their longboat into the sea, but, before the last crewman could climb aboard, the longboat was swept from the side of the brig and capsized. The captain and six crew who had boarded the longboat were all lost. The remaining crewman, Phillip Dober of Guernsey, somehow managed to cut the anchor warp, and, miraculously, steered the ship clear of the rocks. He was the sole survivor. The ‘Pembrokeshire Herald‘ recorded the following on 31st January 1862:

    “… DISTRESSING SHIPWRECK IN CARDIGAN BAY. CARDIGAN, SUNDAY NIGHT.—Yesterday evening a mos distressing shipwreck took place in Cardigan Bay. About noon a brig was seen near the island with signals of distress flying. As soon as possible, the life boat of the National Life-boat Institution, manned by 12 men, proceeded off to her assistance. In the meantime, however, seven out of eight of the crew of the vessel had taken to their own boat, which immediately capsized, and drowned the whole of them. It had fortunately happened that the poor man who had been left on board had missed the ship’s boat when she left the vessel. He was afterwards safely put on shore by the Cardigan life boat. The brig, which was dismantled and waterlogged, was the Pioneer, of Carnarvon, laden with a cargo of wheat from Galatz. The Aberystwith new life boat, also belonging to the National Life-boat Institution, had put off to the wreck, but was unable in the fury of the hurricane to fetch it…”

    In October 1862 the 272 ton barque “Alderman Thompson” of Sunderland was driven onto Cardigan Bar attempting to enter Cardigan with a cargo of timber from Quebec for John S. Williams. The crew were saved, and there was some hope of salvaging the vessel. On 13th December 1862 the smack “Countess of Lisburn” of Aberystwyth, laden with limestone, encountered severe difficulties negotiating the Cardigan Bar. The lifeboat rescued the crew of three. On 17th December 1862 the following report appeared in ‘Potter’s Electric News‘:

    “…CARDIGAN. NOBLE SERVICE OF THE LIFEBOAT, (DEC. 14TH).- Yesterday afternoon during a heavy ground swell, the smack ‘Countess of Lisburne,’ of Aberystwith, struck on Cardigan Bar. Her mainsail and main boom had been previously carried away. Immediately the smack’s perilous position was seen, the Cardigan lifeboat belonging to the National Life Boat Institution was launched. On reaching the vessel the surf was found to be tremendous, and enough to appal any man. The smack’s boat had been lost, so that the poor creatures had no means of rescue if the lifeboat  failed to reach them. The piercing cries for help with death staring them in the face were of the most heart-rending character, fortunately the lifeboat succeeded with God’s blessing, in closing with the wreck and rescuing the crew of 3 men. They were afterwards brought safely on shore by the lifeboat, through the heavy seas A few months ago, this valuable lifeboat was the means of saving a poor fellow from the wrecked brig ‘Pioneer,’ of Carnarvon, his comrades 7 in number having previously to the arrival of the lifeboat, taken to their own boat, which capsized and every one of them were drowned. We regret to find that the Cardigan Lifeboat establishment receives little or no support, either from the town or county, so that for our purely local expenses on the lifeboat in paying the coxswain and the crew for exercising her, we have to apply to the Parent Institution, which in addition pays all rewards for saving life as in the two cases in question, and all expenses of repairs, painting, &c., of the station. Surely from £15 to £20 a year night be easily collected with little exertion in Cardigan and the County, particularly when it is remembered that this amount is not sent away from it, but is actually spent again amongst our hardy seamen aid fishermen, who are ever ready to venture their lives in the lifeboat, to save those of their fellow creatures…”

    On 17th November 1863 E. L. Penfold, the Honorary Secretary of the local R. N. L. I., wrote to the management committee, stating the intention of the local branch to replace the lifeboat and alter the boathouse accordingly. The new 32 foot long lifeboat, “John Stuart”, arrived in 1864. On 23rd March 1866 the smack “Elizabeth” of Cardigan, under the command of Captain T. Mathias, was lost on the Cardigan Bar:

    “…at 4 p.m. we tried to launch our own boat, but she was immediately swamped. The hull of the vessel was by this time underwater, the sea making a clear breach right over us…”

    The local lifeboat rescued the six crewmen at about 4.45 p.m. On 5th January 1867 the sloop “Oliver Lloyd” of Cardigan and the smack “Turtle Dove” of Aberystwyth, dragged their anchors and drifted out into Cardigan Bar. Despite gales, snow and extremely rough seas, the local lifeboat was launched and, in pitch darkness, rescued three men from each vessel. The rough weather prevented a return to Cardigan and the boat landed at Alltycoed on the 6th, where she remained until the storm abated. All the lifeboat men and the rescued crewmen suffered greatly from the cold, and one of the lifeboat men, David Richards, died of exposure soon afterwards. On the 8th January 1867, the lifeboat went to the aid of the four crewmen of the smack “Coronation” of Bideford and rescued them from the vessel. The following appeared in the ‘Cardigan Observer‘ on 11th January 1867:

    “…THE GALE AT CARDIGAN. The weather was extremely boisterous in Cardigan and the neighbourhood on Saturday last. The Turtle Dove, of Aberystwyth, Capt. Jenkins, with general cargo, and the Oliver Lloyd, of this port, Capt. Stephens, with coal, both from Liverpool, arrived in the bay on Friday evening last about seven o’clock – the wind being S. S. E. off shore. At about 10 a. m. on Saturday the wind increased to a terrific gale. About three o’clock in the afternoon the vessels with two anchors out, began to drive, and at half-past three hoisted signals of distress,, and a report being carried to the Coastgaurd Station, the lifeboat, belonging to the National Lifeboat Institution, was manned by Mr. Pender, the chief officer, and thirteen men got out to the vessels, and took off the respective crews, together numbering six. Too much praise cannot be bestowed on the crew of the lifeboat for their indefatigable exertions in rowing for upwards of ten hours. When within 200 yards of the landing place by the boat-house, a sudden squall took the boat to leeward, and her anchor was let down, but she was driven alongside the high rocks of off Alltygoed where she was observed by Mr. G. Biddyr Assistance having been procured the men were hauled up one by one, some much bruised and in a very exhausted condition. Much praise is due to Mr. Biddyr for the timely assistance he had rendered, and the hospitality afterwards shown to the 20 men. The vessels were brought safely into harbour on Sunday – the gale having abated. On Tuesday morning the lifeboat was again put out to sea, having observed a vessel to be in a disabled condition, which proved to be the Coronation of Bideford, bound from Runcorn to Plymouth, laden with coal. She had lost her main boom and bulwarks, and also the windlass disabled. The crew were safely put on shore near the life-boat station, at St. Dogmells…”

    On 3rd February 1867 the 70 ton Cardigan schooner “James” sank off the Black Rocks, but was later salvaged. On 24th February 1871 the following appeared in the ‘Cardigan Observer‘:

    “…SHIPPING NEWS. – The brigantine Ellen, of this port, on her voyage from Gloucester to Cardigan, laden with coals, in entering the harbour, struck the ground on the Pembrokeshire side, and owing to the heavy ground sea, and the wind blowing strong from the S. W., lost command, and was forced on the Cardigan side of the breakers, where she still remains in a perilous position…”

    In October 1872, the Cardigan life-boat attempted to respond to reports of a dismasted vessel off Aberporth. Mr. Jenks manned the lifeboat, but after three hours of rowing in terrible conditions, they had failed even to reach Cardigan Island, and were forced to return to the station. On 11th November 1872 the 39 ton schooner “Pyrenee” of Plymouth, Cornwall was wrecked on Cardigan Bar with the loss of all three crewmen – Stephen May, Master, 27; William Hicks, 56; and John Cross, about 17. On 15th November 1872 the following report appeared in the ‘Cardigan Observer’:

    “…SHIPWRECK AND LOSS OF LIFE ON CARDIGAN BAR. Sunday night last will long be remembered on the western coast-board for the terrific gale which raged from the north-west, lashing the sea into a mass of foaming billows. On Monday morning pieces of wreck were observed on the sand on the Pembrokeshire side of the bar, and on further search the two masts were discovered floating where the vessel was supposed to have struck and gone to pieces, which was about twenty yards from the old wreck. The bodies of the crew, three in number, natives of Devoran, Cornwall, have been washed ashore, and will be interred in St. Dogmells churchyard tomorrow (Saturday). The vessel proved to be the schooner ‘Pyrenee’, Captain May, formerly of Aberystwyth. Many rumours have been current during the week concerning the sad disaster, but as the vessel was not seen to take the ground conjecture as to the cause of the mishap is the only information…”

    On 7th March 1873 the schooner “Dollart” of Detzum, Hanover, got into difficulties at Cemaes Head, and the crew of the “John Stuart” rescued the seven men aboard. On 13th September 1873 the smack “Ocean” of Aberporth, ran aground on Cardigan Bar. A coastguard boat manned by the Chief Officer of the Coastguard of Cardigan, Richard Jinks, and six men, rescued the two crewmen, and Richard Jenks, at the helm, was later awarded the Silver Medal for gallantry by the R. N. L. I.. On 6th October 1873 the 25 ton Cardigan sloop “Rachel” foundered off Cardigan.

    On 19th October 1873 the 35-ton “Peggy” of St. Dogmaels (built at Chester, 1836) foundered off the Cardigan Bar with no loss of life. The two crewmen, one of them Captain Daniel Howells of St. Dogmaels, were saved by the “John Stuart”, manned by nine crew. The “Peggy” had belonged to Thomas Davies. On 24th October 1873 the following appeared in the ‘Cardigan Observer‘:

    “…WRECK ON CARDIGAN BAR. During a terrific gale from the N. N. W., which broke above our western boundaries early on Monday Morning last, the sloop Peggy of Cardigan, owned and commanded by Mr. Daniel Howells, of St. Dogmells, dragged her anchors and went ashore on the Black Rocks, on the Pembrokeshire side of the Bar, the crew being saved by the lifeboat. The following are the particulars of the disaster as supplied by the captain in his depositions.

    The sloop was bound from Swansea to Cardigan with culm, but owing to stress of weather had to put into Milford on the 16th instant; she sailed again on the 18th, wind blowing a strong breeze from the south-west; arriving safely in Cardigan Bay and brought the vessel to anchor outside the bar to wait for water to cross about 8 p. m. on Sunday night. About 3 a. m. on Monday morning, tide half flood, the weather set in thick and squally; the wind suddenly shifting to the N. N. W., blowing a regular gale. The ship labouring heavily,  a second anchor was let go and a bright red light hoisted being the best signal of distress that could then be made, and about half an hour afterwards the chain parted. At daylight another signal of distress was made, the crew being anxious to leave the vessel, she being then ranging about and labouring very heavily, the gale continuing. The lifeboat arrived about 7 a. m., and landed the crew safely. No service could be rendered the vessel, as she was then in the breakers. About 8.30 the second cable parted, and the vessel drove ashore on the rocks near Quay Bach. As soon as the tide receded, the cargo was discharged and the ship stripped. During Monday night the vessel went to pieces…”

    In November 1873 a silver medal was awarded to Mr. Jenks, Chief Officer of the Coastguard, for going to the aid of the ‘Ocean’ on 13th September 1873. On July 23rd 1874 the St. Dogmaels sloop ‘Mary’, 35 tons, was run down off St. Anne’s Head by a Waterford steamer. All hands were lost. On 7th November 1875 the 90 ton schooner “Alberta” of St. Dogmaels foundered on the Cardigan Bar. The crew of the 90 ton vessel, including Captain William Finch, survived. On 19th November 1875 a two-masted Dutch schooner, “Saladin”, was wrecked on the Cardigan Bar. On the same night, the lifeboat rescued the five crew from the three-masted “Johanna Antoinette” of Gravenhage, Holland, lost with her cargo of gin bound for Liverpool. A 150 ton schooner, the “Johanna Antoinette” was Cardigan’s answer to “Whisky Galore” with remnants of the cargo stocking Cardigan’s pubs for some time afterwards, and bottles being discovered as late as 1927.

    In 1876 the R. N. L. I. had a new lifeboat house built at Ceibach for £450. On 16th April 1877 the “John Stuart” rescued four men who had been blown to sea in a small boat during a gale. They had managed to climb ashore on Cardigan Island, their small boat having been smashed to pieces. At 4 p. m., the lifeboat was launched again to rescue two men from the smack “Elizabeth”. No sooner had they landed when they were called out again, to the aid of the schooner “Mary Helen” of Fowey, bound from Glasgow to Bristol with a cargo of pig-iron. The ship having sprung a leak off Ceibwr Bay, the crew took to the boats and rowed ashore safely. The lifeboat crew saved the vessel and at 10.30 a. m. on 17th April, she sailed into the river Teifi. On 21st September 1877 four local men drowned when their pleasure boat capsized on Cardigan Bar. On 22nd July 1878 the Cardigan sloop “Dispatch” capsized in the bay. The three crewmen were eventually rescued.

    Old Lifeboat Station in February 2008 (c) Glen K Johnson

    Old Lifeboat Station in February 2008 (c) Glen K Johnson

    In 1880 the breakwater at Ceibach was extended by 200 ft and widened to 32 ft, at a cost of £350 to the R. N. L. I. On 17th March 1882 the “Oline” was lost off Cemaes Head with the loss of five lives. The local lifeboat was not launched and an enquiry into the incident, although agreeing that the weather had been too bad to launch the lifeboat, decided to dismiss the deputy-coxswain, John Morris, for negligence. Onlookers had seen the five crewmen clinging to the top of the main mast as it snapped, plunging them into the wild sea. On 28th October 1882 a new lifeboat, “The Lizzie & Charles Leigh Clare”, was donated to the local service. On 1st November 1882 the lifeboat saved the three crewmen of the smack “Ellen” of Milford Haven”, and on 10th November 1882 the eleven crew of the “Wellington” of Aberystwyth, bound for Cardigan from Dalhousie with a cargo of deal-boards for the Cardigan Mercantile Co. The following morning, after the storm had abated, the “Wellington” sailed into Cardigan.

    On 22nd October 1883 the new lifeboat, “Lizzie & Charles Leigh Clare”, a 34ft vessel, arrived on the S. S. “Tivyside”, and was formally handed over to John Morgan, Collector of Customs and Secretary of the local branch of the lifeboat service.

    On 10th February 1884 the schooner “Alexandra” of Beaumaris, was caught in a gale en route to Carmarthen from Porthmadog with a cargo of slate. The lifeboat rescued the four crewmen. On 7th September 1884 two crewmen and the mate’s wife were saved from the wreck of the 27 ton smack “Ellen” of Milford Haven, and later the same day, the lifeboat saved six crew from the Norwegian brigantine, “Unda”. This was the same “Ellen” that was the subject of a rescue in November 1882. On 13th May 1886 the lifeboat rescued three crew from the “President” of Aberaeron. A pilot later brought the ship into Cardigan when the tide rose. In 1886 David Rees of the ‘Ferry Inn’ became the 2nd coxswain. In July 1888 William Niles, coxswain of the boat for 29 years, was awarded the R. N. L. I. Silver Medal for Bravery. In 1889 David Rees of the ‘Ferry Inn’ became the Coxswain. In February 1889 the four crewmen of the ‘Harvest Home’ of Preston were rescued when the vessel got into difficulties on the Cardigan Bar. She was later refloated. On 16th February 1889 the following appeared in the ‘Cardigan Observer‘:

    “…STRANDING OF A SCHOONER ON POPPIT SANDS. GALLANT LIFEBOAT SERVICES. Between four and five o’clock on Saturday morning last, the coastguardsman on duty at Penrhyn Castle observed a flash-light in the bay, and im. mediately fired the signal rocket. The wind was blowing a fierce gale from the N.N.E., the sea high, and the weather desperately cold. Mr. Niles, the coxswain of the lifeboat Lizzie and Charles Leigh Clare, immediately mustered his crew, and proceeded to the boathouse. In the meantime, the men in charge of the rocket apparatus threw three lines towards the vessel, and last one was caught by the crew. The lifeboat was launched without delay, and proceeded through the heavy sea to the vessel, and rescued the crew, consisting of Capt. Richard Kinner, and three men, who were in a very exhausted condition. It was found impossible to pull the lifeboat back to the boathouse, and she was there. fore beached on the sands near the black rocks. The mate of the schooner—which proved to be the Harvest Home of Preston, bound from Fowey to Runcorn with a cargo of china clay-had a very narrow escape from drowning, he having fallen between the lifeboat and the vessel, and it was owing to the strenuous efforts of the lifeboat crew that he was rescued. The lifeboat sustained no damage beyond a couple of sprung oars and the loss of a grappling and line. The captain cf the schooner states that late on Friday night, during a heavy gale, the fore-yard and stay-fore- sail carried away, and they hove the vessel too. Owing to the force of the gale the vessel drove towards the Cardigan bar, and became unmanageable. They sighted land about four o’clock on Saturday morning, and immediately showed a flash-light as a signal of distress, Which was soon replied to from Penrhyn Castle. They were soon afterwards rescued by the lifeboat. The Harvest Home, which is a vessel of 88 tops register was but slightly damaged, and got off on Wednesdav last, and anchored in Pwllcam, after throwing overboard about twenty tons of cargo. She will proceed to Runcorn in the course of a day or two…”

    On 3rd May 1892 the smack “Christiana” of Llangrannog ran aground on Cardigan Bar and became a total wreck. The crew were saved. On 12th May 1892 the ‘Aberystwyth Observer‘ reported the following:

    “…LIFEBOAT SERVICES NEAR CARDIGAN. On Tuesday of last week information reached Mr David Rees, Ferry Inn, St Dogmells, coxswain of the Cardigan lifeboat, that a vessel was in the bay apparently in distress. He at once proceeded to the lifeboat-station, summoned the crew. and the boat was sent on her journey. The vessel, which was the smack Christiania, from Carnarvon to Llangranog, with a cargo of manure, had only a crew of two elderly men. She rapidly neared the breakers, and finally stranded on the Pembrokeshire side of Cardigan Bay. with the waves dashing right over her. Owing to the position of the vessel and the state of the sea, the lifeboat had to pull out on the Cardiganshire coast before returning to the rescue. The crew were, however, safely landed, the lifeboat behaving splendidly throughout. The two men were taken in hand by Mr Backham, chief officer of coast-guards, and most hospitably entertained by him. The vessel now lies safely where she stranded, but the cargo is completely spoiled. Great praise is due to the coxswain and crew of the lifeboat for the promptness displayed in launching- the boat…”

    On 9th December 1892 the 55 ton “Duke”, a Wicklow schooner, was wrecked at Cemaes Head. The local lifeboat saved the crew of three. The ‘Evening Express‘ of 10th December 1892 carried the following item:

    “…SHIPWRECK IN CARDIGAN BAY. Gallant Rescue by the Lifeboat. During the fearful gale that blew from the North-west early on Friday morning the schooner Duke, of Wicklow, Captain Morgan, which was lying in the Bay, bound to Cardigan from Runcorn, with a cargo of coal for the Brick-works Company, was observed from the Cardigan Lifeboat Station to be burning distress signals, and evidently being driven by the force of the gale towards the Pembrokeshire side of the bay. The lifeboat crew were immediately summoned by an alarm rocket, and were speedily at their posts launching the boat. The rocket apparatus was also in readiness. The schooner ultimately drove ashore on the Black Rocks near Penrhyn Castle and Kemaes Head; there being a fearful sea on at the time. The rocket apparatus fired its life-line over the vessel, this being caught by the Crew, but, the lifeboat coming alongside at the time, the former mode of saving life was abandoned, and the crew of three men were landed safely by the lifeboat at about eight a.m. The schooner, which was of about 120 tons  burden, will probably become a total wreck. Great praise is due to the crew of the Cardigan lifeboat, under their coxswain, Mr. David Rees, for their speedy assembly and plucky rescue…”

    In a sequel to that incident, on 6th January 1893 the “Nimble” of St. Dogmaels, a fishing boat, sank on the Cardigan Bar, weighted down with the anchor the crew had salvaged from the “Duke”. The four men had to be rescued by another vessel. The ‘Evening Express‘ reported the following on 5th January 1893:

    “…PERILOUS ADVENTURE OFF CARDIGAN. Narrow Escape of Four Men, While the fishing-boat Nimble, of St. Dogmael’s, was crossing the Cardigan Bar on Tuesday afternoon with a crew of four men, a heavy sea struck her with such force that she sank, leaving the crew to struggle in the water. A heavy ground sea running at the time, the crew were placed in an extremely perilous position, and but for timely aid probably the four would have been drowned. They happened to be noticed by a small boat which was just returning from lobster-fishing, and no time was lost before all possible help was rendered. Eventually, with great difficulty and after many futile attempts the four men were taken on board in an exhausted condition…”

    On 11th January 1895 the 82 ton schooner “Cupid” sank on the sandbanks in the Teifi estuary, but was salvaged by Mr. Baillie of the Cardigan Engineering Works. On 23rd March 1895 a cyclone struck the area and the lifeboat rescued two men from the “Mary Anne” of Milford, in difficulties near Cardigan Island. On 2nd October 1895 the 33 ton smack “Ocean” of Llangrannog was wrecked near the Cardigan Bar during a bad storm. Between 12th and 14th July 1896 the ‘Immanuel’ got into difficulties in the lower Teifi estuary, eventually being sold as a wreck. On 22nd September 1896 the 25 ton Cardigan smack “Christiana” was wrecked off Poppit, and the crew were rescued by the local lifeboat. On 12th February 1897 the 48 ton ketch “Rapid” of Bridgewater broke free of the tug “Little Malta” and ran aground on the Cardigan Bar, where she became a total wreck.

    On 7th November 1900 the Cardigan Mercantile Company smack, “Mouse”, got into difficulties at Cardigan Bar with a cargo of culm from Chester, bound for Fishguard. The lifeboat was launched, with David Rees of the “Ferry Inn”, the coxswain. Two missing crewmen were replaced by David Thomas of Netpool and John Davies, “The Sailor’s Home”, High Street – volunteers. The three crewmen of the “Mouse” had lashed themselves to the mast. When rescued, they were looked after by Mr. Harper of the “Poppit”. This was the last rescue of David Rees’ 11-year service.

    In September 1901 David Rees was succeeded as coxswain by Thomas Bowen of Pilot Street, and John Jones of the ‘Cardigan Bay’ inn became the 2nd Coxswain. On 28th January 1901 the Preston schooner “Hannah” drifted into the area, having been abandoned off Ireland in bad weather. She was wrecked near Mwnt. On 25th March 1902 the 116 ton Aberystwyth schooner “John Ewin”, en route from Caernarfon to Mercantile Wharf, Cardigan, beached on the Pembrokeshire side of the Teifi estuary near the bar. The following day the ship floated off and anchored near Gwbert, but dragged her anchors, and the crew had to be rescued by the lifeboat team. The ship became a total wreck. On February 27th 1903 the ‘Mouse’ was again in difficulties at Cardigan Bar and the three crewmen and the pilot were rescued by the local lifeboat. On 19th March 1903 the following was reported in the ‘Aberystwyth Observer‘:

    “…LIFEBOAT SERVICE IN CARDIGAN BAY. The French dandy Marcel, Captain Tanquy, from Trequier, Port of Granville, France, was observed on Sunday riding at anchor in Cardigan Bay, preparatory to proceeding up the river to Cardigan with a cargo of manure for the Western Counties’ Association. During the night a heavy gale set in, and about 6.30 on Monday morning signals of distress were fired from the craft, which were at once answered by alarm rockets from the lifeboat station, and so sharply did the crew answer it that the vessel was reached before eight o’clock, when she was found riding, with two anchors down, amid a terrific sea. The crew, four in number, were in the rigging, but refused to be taken off. Fortunately, however, the tide was rising at the time, and, at the request of the captain, two of the lifeboat crew were transferred to the vessel, and helped to work her over the bar, coming to an anchor in Old Castle Pool by nine o’clock…”

    On December 7th 1903 the crew of the ‘Ann & Betsy’ were saved by the lifeboat crew after getting into difficulties at Cardigan Bar. On 10th December 1903 the ‘Aberystwyth Observer‘ reported the following:

    “…LIFEBOAT SERVICES NEAR CARDIGAN. During a strong gale on Monday morning, which suddenly sprang up from the south about four o’clock, signals of distress were observable in Cardigan Bay at 4.45. The lifeboat at Penrhyn Castle, St. Dogmell’s was signalled for, and was launched at 5.55, reaching the vessel needing help at 6.20. She proved to be the smack Ann and Betsy, of Cardigan, in ballast, from Aberporth, dragging her anchors and leaking badly. The crew of three men were safely landed at Quaybach. The gale afterwards veering round to the north-west, the gale moderated, and the crew returned to the vessel, which then crossed the bar and went up the river with the tide. The rescue was sharp work while it lasted, the lifeboat being in charge of Tom Joseph, the second coxswain, the coxswain being ill. The promptitude shown was the more meritorious as the boat was manned by nine volunteers out of the crew of thirteen who took her out…”

    St. Dogmaels lifeboat crew, ca. 1905 (Glen Johnson Collection)

    St. Dogmaels lifeboat crew, ca. 1905 (Glen Johnson Collection)

    By 17th June 1904 the lifeboat station had been rebuilt and the breakwater repaired. By 22nd July 1904 a new lifeboat had been ordered. The “Elizabeth Austin” was presented to the station by Miss S. Austin of Tottenham, London, in memory of her mother. On 1st August 1905 Mrs. Webley-Tyler launched the new “Elizabeth Austin” lifeboat – a 35ft. vessel. On 1st October 1905 the 140 ton Cardiff schooner “Ezel” ran aground on the Cardigan Bar. She was later repaired and re-floated. On 12th March 1906 the lifeboat rescued the crew of a Norwegian vessel in trouble off Cardigan Island. On 26th October 1906 the lifeboat saved the two crewmen of the 27 ton sloop “Anne” of Beaumaris, which sank off Cemaes Head. James Norrish may have been the senior officer at that time. In November 1906 the steam trawler ‘Little Malta’ sank in the Teifi estuary near Cardigan Gasworks, but was later refloated.

    Cardigan Lifeboat circa 1920 (Glen Johnson Collection)

    Cardigan Lifeboat circa 1920 (Glen Johnson Collection)

    On 30th July 1907 the lifeboat saved three crewmen from the ketch “Brothers” of Cardigan. On 20th August 1909 the ketch “Adolphe” was wrecked in the lower reaches of the Teifi whilst bringing a cargo of onions to Cardigan. The beach between Nantyferwig and Penyrergyd was strewn with onions, which became a cheap commodity in the area for a time. On 12th September 1909 the “Sarah Ann” of Cardigan was wrecked at Porthgain. On 1st January 1910 the lifeboat rescued two crewmen from the ketch “Katie Darling” of Cardigan. On 23rd June 1913 the 2 ton fishing boat “Eos” of Cardigan capsized. Washington Thomas survived, clinging to the bottom of the upturned vessel, but the other three men were drowned. Francis Graves was the officer of the station in 1914. On 18th March 1915 the lifeboat rescued two crew from the 33 ton ketch “Clara” of Milford, which got into difficulties attempting to enter the Teifi estuary during a storm. On 19th March 1919 the ten crewmen of the London vessel, S. S. “Conservator” – a 72ft steam yacht, were rescued by the local lifeboat team. Thomas Bowen received a bronze R. N. L. I. Medal for his service here. On 12th July 1919 the lifeboat rescued two men from the fishing boat “Leo” of Cardigan.

    Memorial Board from the old Lifeboat Station, May 2012 (c) Glen K Johnson

    Memorial Board from the old Lifeboat Station, May 2012 (c) Glen K Johnson

    In 1920 John Evans became the new coxswain. In October 1921 Thomas Griffiths, Yr Allt, 2nd Coxswain of the Cardigan Lifeboat, received a framed vellum certificate from the R. N. L. I.. On 16th April 1922 the ‘Lusitania’ from Portugal caught fire 10 miles off Cemaes Head. The crew were saved. On 15th August 1922 the motor trawler ‘Princess Mary’ caught fire off Gwbert. The two crewmen escaped, but the vessel became a total wreck. On 22nd April 1925 the “Elizabeth Austin” saved two crewmen from the fishing boat “Eliza Ann” of Cardigan. In 1926 the secretary was John Owen and John Evans was the coxswain. On 13th October 1932 the lifeboat station was closed. The “Elizabeth Austin” was sold to a man from Porthcawl for £30 on 25th November 1932. (In 1999, the ‘Elizabeth Austin’ was in use as a pleasure craft on a canal in Castleford, Yorkshire).

    Wreck of the 'Herefordshire', 16/03/1934 (Cardigan  Tivy-Side Advertiser)

    Wreck of the ‘Herefordshire’, 16/03/1934 (Cardigan Tivy-Side Advertiser)

    In 1934 the Bibby Liner S. S. ‘Herefordshire’ was wrecked on Cardigan Island after breaking free of the tugs that were towing her to the breaker’s yard. In January 1938 the S. S. ‘Margery’ had to jettison part of her cargo of coal, bound for Cardigan Gasworks, after spending two days stuck on the Cardigan Bar.

    On 8th November 1963 requests were made for the provision of a local lifeboat. On 11th September 1964 there were calls for an R. N. L. I. Station at Gwbert. In September 1967 the ‘Dancer’, property of Captain Tom James Bowen, sank. On 28th June 1968 a 15ft boat was swamped at Cardigan Bar and a 20 year old man drowned. There were further calls for a local lifeboat. On 10th January 1969 it was stated that a new lifeboat station would be erected within a year or so. On 18th September 1970 Poppit was suggested as the location for the new Inshore Lifeboat Station. On 19th March 1971 the intention to locate a station here was confirmed by the R. N. L. I.. The new lifeboat arrived on 17th July 1971. The new boat was blessed and officially launched on 18th August 1971 by Rev. W. G. Jones, Vicar of St. Dogmaels, assisted by the Vicar of Cardigan, Rev. J. Ernest Jones.

    On 13th August 1972 seven men were rescued from the estuary, including the two crewmen of the local lifeboat, which was holed and swamped. On 6th August 1973 two men were rescued from a dinghy at Cardigan Bar. On 21st June 1974 six divers from Swansea University had to be rescued by the Inshore Lifeboat after the engine failed on their dinghy near Cardigan Island.

    Wreck of the 'Suandra', May 1997 (c) Glen K Johnson

    Wreck of the ‘Suandra’, May 1997 (c) Glen K Johnson

    In 1976 the Fleetwood trawler “Suandra” caught fire four miles off the local coast. The two crewmen abandoned ship and were rescued by the Poppit I. L. B.. The gutted trawler was towed to Cardigan and left on the mud opposite Lloyd’s Wharf. On June 14th 1986 work began on demolishing the I. L. B. Station. On June 20th 1987 the new boat-house was opened. In October 1993 the lifeboat was holed and sunk.

    Cover of Programme for new boat launch, 04/07/2009 (Glen Johnson Collection)

    Cover of Programme for new boat launch, 04/07/2009 (Glen Johnson Collection)

    On 23rd May 1996 plans were approved for a new lifeboat station here. Work on the new building was underway by 24th September 1997. In February 1998 the “Tanni Grey” and “Society of Societies” lifeboats were installed in the new boathouse. In March 1998 the new “Tanni Grey” lifeboat was officially launched. On 4th September 1999 the new lifeboat house was officially opened. In February 2001 the barometer from the original lifeboat station, which had been housed at the Guildhall & Markets courtyard in Cardigan since the 1930’s, was presented to the new lifeboat station by Cardigan Town Council. In July 2009 a new lifeoboat, the ‘Elsie Ida Meade‘, was dedicated, to operate alongside the ‘Tanni Grey’.


    St. Dogmaels Parish Register – Burials 1813-52; 1852-85

    The Pembrokeshire Herald 1847

    The Welshman, March 1866

    Cardigan & Tivy-Side Advertiser 1872-73; 1877; 1882-84; 1886; 1892-93; 1895-98; 1900-02; 1904-07; 1909-10; 1915; 1919; 1922; 1925; 1927; 1932; 1938; 1963-64; 1968-74; 1980; 1983; 1987; 1994-

                2001; 2003-11.

    Cardigan Observer 1877; 1882; 1895-96

    Kelly’s Directory of South Wales 1906; 1914; 1926

    R N L I – Cardigan Lifeboat Station records, 1980.

    Western Telegraph 1980; 1985

    Welsh Shipwrecks Vol. 1, Tom Bennett 1981

    Cambrian News 1985

    New Lifeboat & Lifeboathouse For Cardigan, R N L I, 09/01/1986

    The History of the Cardigan Lifeboats, Donald Davies 1990

    The Gateway to Wales, W J Lewis 1990

    Deadly Perils, Peter B S Davies 1992.

    Programme – Launching  ‘Society of Societies’ and ‘Tanni Grey’ 04/09/1999

    R N L I Reports – Poppit lifeboat 15/10/2000

    Programme – Launching the ‘Elsie Ida Meade’ 04/07/2009

    © Glen K Johnson 23/07/2013



    1. William Thomas
      June 11, 2015 at 7:36 pm

      The picture of Cardigan lifeboat crew shows a picture of Jonny Jones of St Dogmaels is this Jonny Jones of Rhoslwyn if so then that is my grand father he died in 1954/55 when I was 4.
      Elfyn Thomad

      • glen
        June 13, 2015 at 2:00 pm

        Hi Elfyn, Not certain, but think this is the same Jonny Jones – the lifeboat boys then and now are a brave breed of men. Kind Regards, Glen

    2. TOM Bennett
      August 30, 2015 at 11:22 am

      On 23rd August 1704 the “John & Ann” was wrecked near Cardigan fetching a cargo of oranges and lemons from Lisbon under the command of Captain Guy. In October 1706 the “Major Pincke” was wrecked near Cardigan and a similar fate befell the “Samuel” in January 1707.
      I am attempting to find more about these three early wrecks and, if possible, where did you first see them written down. I think the 1706 one maybe Major, the vessel description being Pincke, a vessel with a pointed overhanging stern, could these be Sarn Badrig? as I am trying hard to put a name to the Bronze Bell Wreck there.

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