Charterhouse Returns

Restoration of the 'Charterhouse' lifeboat

Charterhouse Returns, set up to restore the historic lifeboat Charterhouse, has been awarded £7,800 from the Heritage Lottery Fund to help promote the project. Charterhouse was the first motorised lifeboat in Wales and went on station in Fishguard and Goodwick in 1909. Charterhouse Returns project leader, Robert Rees, said: "Technologically she had a number of innovative features. She was one of the earlier styles of boat that were self-righting and motorised, with two sails and oars for 12 people to row."

One of her most daring rescues was in 1920 under coxswain John Howells. A Dutch three-masted motor schooner, the Hermina, had sought shelter at Fishguard from a fierce gale and heavy seas. The heavy waves overpowered her engine and the mission was in peril. All were saved during the heroic rescue except the schooner's third officer.

The lifeboat was later taken to London by train and displayed outside the Houses of Parliament. John Howells was awarded the RNLI's highest honour, a Gold Medal, with other members of the crew also receiving medals, the presentations were made by the Prince of Wales.

The Charterhouse was decommissioned in 1931, sold off, and later kept by a family in north Wales for 60 years. Remarkably the old lifeboat was found, still afloat, at Bangor in North Wales and was returned to Fishguard Harbour in 2009, exactly 100 years after its initial launching. In 2009 a group of volunteers and Old Cathusians brought the boat back to Fishguard to restore it and put it on public display at a new visitor centre planned for Fishguard Marina.

Members of the 'Charterhouse' lifeboat crew involved with the rescue mission in 1920

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