'SHOUT!' The history of Lifeboats in Aberystwyth
November 11th 2006 to January 27th 2007 at Ceredigion Museum, Aberystwyth
In 2007 Aberystwyth will get a new lifeboat, an Atlantic 85.
This will be celebrated in many ways, one of which is this exhibition of the long history of the Royal National Lifeboat Institute in Aberystwyth. There is also material from the Coastguards and the RNLI Education department. The display at the Ceredigion Museum includes an original RNLI D Class inshore lifeboat, similar to the one that replaced the 'Aquila Wren' in 1964.
Desmond Davies has lent some of his collection of memorabilia from his involvement with the RNLI and remembers the controversy surrounding the replacement of the lifeboat in 1964.
'If you look at the copy of the Cambrian News from October 1964 you will see the headline, 'Town to lose its lifeboat, No further need say RNLI'. It was a directive from the head office in London. In the article it states that Captain C.F.H. Churchill, Ponterwyd, who was chairman of the local RNLI Committee, said the news would be received with sadness, as Aberystwyth had had a conventional lifeboat for 102 years.'
The Aquila Wren was the last conventional lifeboat in Aberystwyth and was replaced by a much lighter inshore rescue boat known as a Zodiac. The reasons given for the development were explained as being due to the change in the nature of shipping lines and the decline in shipping trades at the centre of Cardigan Bay. These new inshore boats were more easily handled and could be launched from almost anywhere. It could be transported when necessary to or from the vicinity of the emergency by road.
Michael Freeman, curator at Ceredigion Museum, introduced the Aberystwyth Town Mayor Cllr. Michael Jones at the opening of the exhibition on Saturday November 11th. The mayor said he was proud to have been able to officially open such a good exhibition and that the work of the lifeboat was such an important and honourable one to be involved with. He went on to say that the RNLI was largely a voluntary organisation and many brave and heroic rescues had been made over the years along the coast line of Ceredigion.
The exhibition highlights the history of the various boats that have been used during the long and active service of the RNLI in Aberystwyth, beginning in 1861 when the 'Evelyn Wood' was launched. By 1876 the 'Lady Haberfield' had taken over and she too was replaced by a new boat of the same name in 1881.
The exhibition continues with photographs, paintings and press cuttings outlining some of the developments with-in the RNLI. Michael Freeman was very pleased to be able to host this exhibition at the museum and said that the display would be open until the end of January of next year. 'We have a dramatic breeches buoy rescue in the display and the inflatable lifeboat is a great hit with children. They can try lifejackets on and sit inside the boat if they wish to.'