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£10m Lifeboat Station months from completion



St Davids’ new station (foreground): And old station (background)

St Davids’ new station (foreground): And old station (background)

ST DAVIDS’ RNLI new Lifeboat Station at St Justinian’s head is now only months away from being completed. Held up by a windy Winter, momentum is building.

The city currently has two stations and operate two All-weather life boats the Tyne-Class and their new Tamar-class lifeboat. The oldest of the two stations has been running for 140 years with the most recent for the last century.

Station Coxwain, Dai John, explained that the two lifeboats are currently needed as the new high-tech Tamar vessel, which is currently being modified in Poole, can only be moored up off the coast, which when conditions are exceptionally rough could see the lifeboat become untethered and destroyed on the cliffs.

The current set up for the North County station is to, move the ship into safer harbours further south like Milford Haven and Neyland when bad weather is forecast. To keep the station going 24/7 they were allowed to keep housing the 28-year veteran Tyne class.

The new station will permanently house the Tamar boat as well as many other state-of-the-art facilities. St Davids RNLI was the last of those in Pembrokeshire to receive a newly constructed or upgraded station.

Undertaken by Bam Nuttall, work on the station was started in June 2014, with many members of contracted staff having worked on previous similar jobs across the country with the company.

Site manager Rhodri Jenkins, who tallies St Davids as his 4th station said: “This was one of the more awkward sites to work on, we’ve had to squeeze the station into a very narrow space.”

Rhodri used the cliff line as an example showing the sheeted rock. he explained: “That sort of rock can easily collapse or slide, so we had to put up this netting and cross-anchor the rock to prevent it happening.”

The site has already had the concrete station foundation stilts laid, the base level put in place and the steel slip stilts bored and placed which are now supporting the extra long slip.

The new slipway, extends further than the current one which will tackle the current issue St Davids’ RNLI faces of retrieving their vessel once launched. Although their current set up and launch 24/7 Dai explained: The issue is once we have returned, at low tide we have to wait a couple of hours before we can winch the boat up.”

The new station has been built with laminated-layered wooden beams which will be exposed upon completion and will last for over 100 years, Rhodri said: “Over the life of the station this style is very cost effective over steel, which others use, that are constantly fighting the elements needing parts cutting out and replaced.”

“With a mixture of the exposed beams and the under floor heating the station will have a very ambient atmosphere.”

The station utilises a method of harnessing sea water to create heat, Rhodri described how the system sucks water through pipework into the station at around 12 degrees with goes through a system which takes maybe four degrees and deposits the 8 degree water back.

“This sustainable heating is an alternative to having a large bore hole to create heat, which is often used.” He said.

The new premises will have full disability access including an internal lift, toilets and a tram system from headland to the front door following the steps.

The station will also join the ranks of few other stations which harbours their in-shore life boat within the same building. With its own indoor garage the in-shore rib, can be lowered to sea level via crane 24/7 to immediately attend incidents within a closer proximity that the all-weather boat needn’t be called out to attend.

Dai noted that all 26 volunteers live within a very short drive of St Justinian’s, which is vital to the rapid response they provide he said: “Our volunteers need to be able to get here in time for launch, which currently is about 10 minutes on the rib and 12 to release the all-weather boat”

According to Dai one of the major benefits will be to the crew facilities for the 28 team members of which two are permanent and 26 are volunteer, he stated: “At the moment we have meeting in the top of the station which has no wall space and is built into the roof so it’s all curved.”

The new design has a large crew designated room which will allow in house training and meetings to take place, he said: “We are lucky that St Davids fire department are letting us use their training room at the moment while we are running day and evening first aid courses.”

Rhodri explained that the whole project at St Davids will cost just shy of £10m by the time it is completed and also said that he expects the usable floor space to be three or four times more than they currently have.

In response to what might happen with the old site, which neighbours the new-build, Dai said: “It was put on the market a little time a go to see if there was any interest, but the future of the station is unclear at the moment.”

The work being done on the new station is heavily dependant on the large crane which is being used to move goods between the mainland and the stilted site, which according to Rhodri has had some trouble with the Winter weather.

Rhodri stated: “The crane cannot operate when winds are 30mph of above so since November lots of the work has been mopping up rather than moving forward.”

“We have been lucky enough to get days where we can move large quantities of what we’re going to need down onto the station which does make up for bad weather that follows.”

Despite the weather, the station’s shape can be already seen, and from the ground floor of the station which will be used solely for crew, the true size of the facility can be appreciated. Rhodri expects completion to be only months away.

Dai said the crew has pencilled in launch tests for June 2016, and they expect the site to be fully transitioned by September this year.

The RNLI rely almost solely on donations from the public as at present only 2% of their total funding comes from government sources.

The work they do has already saved over 140,000 lives nation wide, and the service they provide is made more vital in our county due to Pembrokeshire’s peninsula formation as well as the growing popularity of water sports and the 186mile coastal path.

Dai added: “We are so appreciative of the national and local support for the RNLI, last year we launched a fund raiser in St Davids which had fantastic response.”

For more details on the RNLI, the work they do, and how to donate go

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Sentencing delay for money theft case



A CROWN COURT has delayed the sentencing of a Narberth man who has admitted stealing from a local community organisation.

Lee Squelch, 37, of Caerau Farm, Llandewi Velfrey, had denied the charges but changed his plea to guilty on March 5.

However, due to over running cases at the Crown Court, the sentencing date has been put back until Wednesday, April 21 – the case was due to be concluded on April 15.

Squelch has admitted that between April 2014 and March 2018 he stole money from The Pembrokeshire Byways and Bridleways Association.

It is understood that Squelch was in a position of responsibility within the said organisation when the alleged offences took place.

Pembrokeshire Byways and Bridleways is a community focused organisation which aims to improve the bridleways around Pembrokeshire, to keep horse riders safely off the roads. It is affiliated to the British Horse Society.

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The Pembrokeshire man on the Titanic



ON the morning of April 15 1912, in the North Atlantic some 450-miles south of Newfoundland, the RMS Titanic slowly slid beneath the sea just two hours and forty minutes after hitting an iceberg.

Stories from that night are famous, from the lookouts misplacing their binoculars to the ship’s band playing even as the sea washed over their feet, the sinking of the Titanic holds a special place in the public consciousness and continues to grab our attention some 109 years after the ‘unsinkable’ ship sank.

Over 1500 people lost their lives in the biggest maritime naval disaster at that point.

Among the dead were American and British millionaires, White Star Line employees and countless anonymous immigrants from across Europe who were all seeking a better life in America.

908 crew were on board the Titanic when it left Southampton on its fateful maiden voyage, one of the crew was a man called Charles Essex Edwards, 38, who sometimes gave himself the first name of ‘Clement’.

Charles was born in 1862 to John and Harriet Edwards of St. Martin’s Place, Haverfordwest.

He worked as a carpenter as a 19-year-old man and would end up moving out of Pembrokeshire and going to sea.  By the time he married a lady called Lavinia Ann Poulter, from Llanstadwell, in May 1892 he was living in Newport.

Lavinia, a Pembrokeshire woman herself, was the daughter of Thomas and Elizabeth Poulter who lived on Lawrenny Terrace in Neyland.

By 1895, Lavinia had returned to Pembrokeshire following the death of her mother. Charles and Lavinia’s marriage suffered but Charles would continue visiting Lavinia and stayed at his father-in-law’s house when he was on shore leave.

Although still married in the eyes of the law, Charles and Lavinia were basically separated by 1901.

Charles signed on to work on the brand new RMS Titanic after it had completed its sea trials in Belfast Lough, he gave his address as 7 Brunswick Square, Southampton. He worked on the Titanic as an assistant pantry-man steward who earned a monthly wage of £3 15s on his previous ship the SS Zeeland.

SS Zeeland: The ship Charles worked on before the Titanic

When RMS Titanic left Southampton a massive crowd had gathered to see the newest addition to the White Star Line fleet depart. Charles Edwards was there. He was there when the ship picked up more passengers at Cherbourg and Cobh.

He would’ve been working during the day, his job entailed keeping the ship’s pantries stocked with food and wine, a vital job on a ship with such a high-class passenger list as the Titanic.

He was, more than likely, sleeping when Frederick Fleet spotted an iceberg in the ship’s path at 11:40pm on Sunday, April 14. He would’ve been woken by the noise of metal on ice and the ship shuddering as it was torn open on the starboard side.

As the ‘unsinkable’ ship took on water Charles, as a White Star Line employee, would’ve been given the unenviable task of waking up passengers, informing them of what happened and getting them to put on their lifejackets.

Once the scale of the situation on the Titanic became apparent, the command structure effectively disintegrated.

Captain Edward Smith would’ve cut a forlorn figure as he wandered around near the wheelhouse and his last words to his crew, according to reports at the time were:

“Well boys, you’ve done your duty and done it well. I ask no more of you. I release you.

“You know the rule of the sea. It’s every man for himself now, and God bless you.”

This would’ve been around 2:10am, at that point Charles would’ve faced a literal up-hill battle with male members of the crew only having a 24% chance of survival and many people gathering ‘like bees’ on the stern of the stricken liner which, experts say, raised to a 12 degree angle.

The Pantryman-stewards from the Titanic’s sister ship, the Olympic

Many male crew members elected to stay at their posts as, according to Victorian culture it was better for men to die than to live and be perceived a coward, so the lights of the ship remained on until about 2:18am, just two minutes before Titanic broke apart and began its journey to its final resting place some 12,000ft below on the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean.

But now you know there was a man named Charles Edwards who was born in Haverfordwest and who died when the Titanic sank in the freezing waters of the North Atlantic. His body, if it was recovered, was never identified and we don’t even have a picture of him.

When news of the disaster broke, The Pembroke County Guardian described the tragedy as ‘one of the most appalling calamities in the long history of shipwreck’.

Four men from Maenclochog, it was later revealed, had a lucky escape as their plans to emigrate that April on the Titanic were thwarted by one of their number being unable to travel, so the group decided to wait for their friend. That decision saved their lives.

Pembrokeshire responded to the sinking by raising money for the Titanic Relief Fund, Pembroke Dock raised £12 2s 0d through a collection at the Royal Dockyard and, in Haverfordwest, Sidney White, who would later go on to own The Palace Cinema, hosted benefit performances to packed houses which raised £5 15s.

Lavinia, after a legal battle with Charles’ brother William, was given £192 in compensation for Charles’ death and went on to look after her father at Railway Terrace, Neyland until he passed away.

Lavinia went on to move to Middlesex where she lived until 1934. She left her estate to her chauffeur.

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Marloes pensioner in child abuse images case



A PENSIONER has been bailed to attend Swansea Crown Court by magistrates sitting in Haverfordwest Law Courts this week.

Derek Lister, 72, of Marloes is accused of making indecent photographs of children.

He appeared before the bench, on Tuesday (Apr 13).

Lister was represented by Redkite Solicitors.

The court heard that between June 2009 and November 2019 in Marloes, Pembrokeshire, Lister allegedly created 3 indecent category A images of a child, 14 indecent category B images of a child and 152 indecent category C images of a child.

He will now appear at Swansea Crown Court on May 11 at 10am for the next hearing after the local court declined jurisdiction.

Lister has pleaded not guilty to all the charges.

Derek Lister: Accused of making child abuse images
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