31st October 2016
Autumn 2016 saw the opening of a brand new lifeboat station for St. Davids RNLI, the £7.6m project featuring a new boathouse and slipway located on the edge of the rocky St Justinians coastline. The new facility replaces the former lifeboat station that has stood at this remote location for more than a century.
Working with main contractors Bam Nuttall, Spencer’s tasks on this important South West Wales project began in the Summer and were completed just before the station was commissioned for use in October. The work involved the construction of a Pembrokeshire hedge bank – comprising a combination of stone, earth and turf - around part of the station’s perimeter, together with the laying of paving around the entrance of the station. Adding to the tasks was the installation of 1200 square metres of HGV quality grid. This was to form the basis for the car park area and access road used by the lifeboat crew, as well as the delivery of the station’s new Tamar Class lifeboat that replaced the former Tyne Class lifeboat, which had been in service since 1988. Tasks also involved the laying of topsoil and the landscaping of the site. On completion, both Bam Nuttall and the RNLI were delighted with the result of Spencer’s work, which was carried out within a critical timeframe and a carefully controlled budget.
As well as the slipway for the Tamar class lifeboat, the new boathouse has additional space to accommodate a smaller D-class inshore vessel. Its facilities include a drying room for kit and provision for crew training and equipment maintenance.
The remote location of the new station posed many challenges for everyone working on the site, both in terms of access for plant and equipment and the unpredictable sea and weather conditions. The seaward part of Bam Nuttall’s works were constructed using a large jack-up barge, whilst the landward foundation of the boathouse were serviced from a 70m reach tower-crane. Wherever practical, materials were brought in by sea to minimise the effects on the narrow access roads.
Paul Eastment, RNLI Divisional Operations Manager, said: “This is a proud day for St Davids RNLI. Everyone involved in the project has put in a tremendous amount of hard work to get to where we are today. The former lifeboat station has stood for more than a century and the exposure to the rigors of the sea and the need to house the new 25-knot Tamar class lifeboat meant a new boathouse and slipway was needed.
“The new facilities will support the operation of the St Davids lifeboats well into the 21st century, contributing to the saving of many more lives and building upon the long and proud record of the brave lifeboat crews who have served this challenging part of the coastline for almost 150 years.”
St Davids RNLI was founded in 1869. Since then lifeboat crews have launched from the station 967 times, saved 326 lives and rescued 558 people*.
*Figures: RNLI, October 2016.