Thursday, October 18, 2012

Last night the BBC's Welsh regional news had a news item about Tenby Luggers. It started with the replica lugger being built in Milford Haven and then showed ours. We hope to get lottery funding and to start work next spring. It should take a year to do and it will be a restoration of the last remaining original Temby Lugger.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

By Linda Asman

When this was taken 100 years ago boats were a common sight at Pembroke.

The River Rally
Once again I had the opportunity to join the West Wales Maritime Heritage Society on a voyage up the Pembroke River.  A couple of weeks ago on a grey and misty day it was on the occasion of the Seafair Haven, but this time it was to take part in the annual River Rally to Pembroke’s South Quay.

Henry VII (Peter Kraus) greets David James at Hobbs Point.

This time we were lucky.  The sun shone as I boarded one of the West Wales Maritime Heritage Society’s crafts “Quest” on Hobbs Point along with none other than Henry VII himself (alias Peter Kraus, Mayor of Pembroke Dock).  As usual David James, Secretary of the Society led the way with “Supporter” to Crow Pool where we rendezvoused with other boats making their way from various points along the waterway to join the rally.  Already there was “Dashing”, Cllr John Allen-Mirehouse’s boat, the lead vessel carrying the Mayor of Pembroke Cllr Mel Phillips.

The flotilla headed by Cllr John Allen Mirehouse's 'Dashing' arriving in Castle Pond.

Spectators gather at South Quay to welcome The River Rally.

David James phoned Myrrdin Dennis of PCC to check that the barrage gate was lowered and at around 2.45 pm the flotilla of boats set off on the journey up the Pembroke River.  It was a lovely summer’s day, the sunshine rendering the water a brilliant blue, and the boats cut a colourful spectacle as they sailed along Castle Pond to dock at the South Quay.  Many spectators had gathered to view the event and join in the activities there and we were greeted by Pauline Waters, the Town Crier, who welcomed us all to Pembroke. First to step ashore was The Mayor who declared “This river rally is to exercise the right of passage up and down the Pembroke River for the people of Pembrokeshire."

Pembroke  Mayor Mel Phillips with Pembroke Dock Mayor Peter Kraus
and Pembroke Town Crier Pauline Waters with granddaughter Ellie.

A right of passage
This is the actual reason behind the river rally which is funded by Pembroke Town Council and organised by West Wales Maritime Heritage Society.  It dates back to the building of the barrage when the Council insisted that the rights of navigation of the Pembroke River be maintained and the gate be lowered by demand: the County Council have to maintain the mechanism.

I asked David James when the rallies began and he remembers the first rally taking place in about 1989 “Govan Davies’s boat ‘Pride of Pembroke’ led the way with guest of honour Sir Geraint Evans, the famous Welsh tenor, on board and ever since it has been an annual event.  Sometimes it coincides with Seafair Haven but on others it is a stand alone event.  Such is the prestige of the river rally that the Pembroke Festival, originally held in September, was rescheduled to coincide with it.”

It is largely due to David and his navigational skills that this event is able to take place. “Basically I act as harbour pilot calculating the tidal movements, issuing sailing directions to skippers and guiding the flotilla up the river.  The main difficulty lies in staying in the channel, a winding path marked by numbered candy striped buoys.”

The other problem is the barrage. “this has to be closed at 5.9 metres above chart datum” David pointed out.  “This is primarily designed to keep Castle Pond artificially low to prevent flooding of the Commons and within these restraints the fleet has to be rushed in and either stay overnight or dash out smartly!”

A great trip
The Mayor, Town Crier and Henry VII made a colourful trio as they stood on the sunny quayside with many, including myself, taking their photograph.  I asked Cllr Phillips if she had enjoyed the trip.

“My brother and I had the most wonderful day” she enthused “thanks to Rosie and John Mirehouse and also to Frank Penfold who steered us through 2 foot 6 inches of water!! We were aboard John's vintage and classic Nelson, apparently the Rolls Royce of its class.  It was built in 1963 and rescued from a boatyard in Cowes on the Isle of Wight.

I have never done this trip before and it was great to see places like Bentlass, Pennar Gut and the Millbacks, all from the opposite side of the river.  We passed the ruins of the Isolation Hospital known locally as The Pill, where children were sent who had contracted Scarlet Fever and Diphtheria.  My mum contracted Scarlet fever and Dr Manby told my gran that she had to go to The Pill.  Gran refused saying that the family was isolated enough in the Millbacks, so he allowed mum to stay at home, providing the house was fumigated.  

Thanks again to all and of course to David James for organising it.”

Yes, it was a great day and a great occasion: Pembroke comes alive when the boats come up the river and I can well understand why so many Pembroke people hate the barrage!

Steam Launch Association Rally
There will be another chance to see a flotilla coming up to Pembroke as the Steam Launch Association is organising events along the Milford Haven Waterway and plan to visit Pembroke on Tuesday, August 14th. .  They will be arriving at the South Quay at approximately 15:15 pm. 

Last year two steam launches came to Pembroke under David’s guidance to see how their boats could cope with the river.  It was so successful that they decided to come again this year.  David would like to add that other boats would be welcome to join the flotilla and anyone wishing to do so, please contact him on 01646 683764.

If you have any stories or photographs for this column, please contact me, Linda Asman, on
01646 622428, email and visit our website

Memory Lane
For a change and appropriate to this week’s article, I am including here a photograph of a boat.  There are many in Pembroke who will recognise the ‘Kathleen and May’, seen here at the North Quay.  The last boat to trade at Pembroke, she is remembered with great affection.  There was a time when the West Wales Maritime Heritage Society had hoped to establish a maritime heritage centre with the ‘Kathleen and May’ docked alongside but sadly this never happened.  Wouldn’t it have been wonderful for Pembroke if it had?
 ‘Kathleen and May’, at the North Quay.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Latest Newsletter Summer Events

West Wales Maritime Heritage Society

Newsletter July 2012

This newsletter relies very heavily on other people’s photographs and I am grateful to be able to use them. There are many more available on our Flickr

Despite all the rain, Pembrokeshire didn’t get the floods and mud swamps that plagued a lot of UK over the last two months. Nevertheless, the weather has affected our events program and wet weather gear has been fashionable this year!

Diamond Jubilee Celebrations at Haverfordwest

Our first event was at Haverfordwest, where we joined in with the town’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations, by taking a representative cargo from Pembroke Dock to the quayside at The Bristol Trader. We made good time upriver with a strong floodtide and returned home on the ebb.

Quest carried the cargo and was escorted by General Picton. The reception in Haverfordwest was fantastic with a military parade, dancing in the streets and a large crowd.

The Mayor of Haverfordwest accepted our cargo from David James, Quest’s skipper, but my suggestion of a return cargo of beer must have got lost somewhere………

Seafair Haven 2012

This was the 4th Seafair Haven, a maritime festival for traditional and classic vessels and long boat rowing to celebrate the magnificent Milford Haven Waterway in Pembrokeshire. It takes place biennially, alternating each year with the well established Semaine du Golfe festival in the Morbihan, Brittany. The rain and strong winds over the week affected the smaller sailing and rowing boats more, but most events went ahead successfully.

I should mention the excellent facilites enjoyed by the sailors who chose to camp at Lawrenny Yacht Station, which was the host port for the Sail and Oar Fleet. They were welcomed by the whole village, with superb facilities at the Yacht Station and excellent camping at the Old Castle Camp Site. The Cricket Club opened their showers for the sailors and the Lawrenny Arms had special Seafair Haven events.

The outing to breakfast at Cresswell Quay was a highlight, because it was blessed with good weather. The Youtube link below will take you to a 10 minute video made by “randoneur” about Seafair Haven. I particularly enjoyed the section of him sailing his homebuilt Paradox sailing boat “Little Jim” in strong winds, which is towards the end of the video.

On Wednesday we successfully guided some of the larger boats up the Pembroke River and into The Pembroke Castle Pond. Unfortunately, some of the fleet were stuck in Milford Dock, because of a problem with their lock gates. We stayed in the pond overnight and guided the boats down river next day.

Once we got out into Milford Haven, the wind dropped enough to raise Quest’s sail and Tony Ward bought out his mouth organ and played some sea shanties.

Beating the Bounds Ceremony at Haverfordwest

Our most recent event was when the Mayor of Haverfordwest beat the town’s bands. As Admiral of the port he sailed down river to a boundary stone and back. On the Bristol Trader Quay there were entertainers from the local drama group, dressed as historical characters and telling their stories, and a group of young ladies from Llangwm village, dressed in the distinctive costume of the fishing families. The Mayors and Town Criers from nearby towns also came in their various outfits and The Vagrants Crew played a selection of sea shanties. Our Society bought our Llangwm fishing boat, K3, on a trailer because it isn’t seaworthy. We were delighted to meet K3’s sister ship which had recently been restored and had sailed up from Llangwm

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Haverfordwest Event


FRIDAY 20 JULY 2012 at 7.00P.M.


Discover the vanished history of Haverfordwest as a major seaport from the coming of the Flemings up to the 1930s.

Approximately 1 Hr 30 mins duration.

Learn about the history of the port and also the Tanyard, Hanover Quay, Old Quay, Old Quay Street Public Houses, Woolmarket, New and Old Bridges and much more besides!

Meet at the Priory at 7.00pm.

The walk will be led by
Town Museum curator Simon Hancock MA

[If the weather is inclement please meet at the Picton Centre at 7.00pm where an illustrated talk on the History of the Port will be given]

Pembroke River Rally

Our Friends in the Pembroke and Monkton Local History Society have set up this shop window display for the River Rally, with our Society as the main feature. When you're in Pembroke have a look, it's very impressive!

Don't forget the River Rally on Sunday 15th, boats arrive in the Castle Pond at 3.15pm.  If you want to take part contact David James (01646683764) for sailing instructions.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Latest Mainsheet Newsletter


19-24th.March, Dros y Tunnau, Over the Waves
Society to attend maritime exhibition in Cardigan’s Guildhall
1500hrs. David James will give a talk on Cardigan’s maritime history.
22nd.March, Pembrokeshire Wrecks . An illustrated talk by Ted Goddard,7.30 p.m. at the
Neyland Yacht Club .Non-members welcome.
17th.April, Talk by David James at Picton Centre, Haverfordwest

4thand 6th. June, Diamond Jubilee Events
4thJune, Parade of Sail to Town Quay, Haverfordwest , “Quest” escorted by “General
Picton” et al. A token cargo to be delivered to the Town Council, in recognition
of the town’s former role as a working port.
6th. June, Parade of Sail departing Hobb’s Point
21st.June Midsummer Walk, Pembroke Dock
23rdto 30th. June Sea Fair Haven
27, 28, 29th.June. Society boats to escort successive fleets up Pembroke River, Mooring in Castle
15th.July Pembroke Festival River Rally, The Annual Pembroke River Rally.
( Come and join us, with or without a boat.)
11th.To 18th. August Steamboat Association Rally to Pembrokeshire
14th August Steamboats to be piloted up Pembroke River by Society boats.
22nd.September, The History Fair,Haverfordwest Library Gallery, Society to be present
with publicity stand.
2nd.November, D. James to address Probus at Haverfordwest Cricket Club

Future Events
(i) Interested parties, among them this Society, are considering an
event to mark the 200th.Anniversary of the founding of Pembroke Dock
and the Dockyard
(ii) Haverfordwest 900th Anniversary

From the above you will see that we have a succession of activities planned. If you need to know any more details, please contact our Secretary. David James, at

To this end we are feverishly beavering on at preparing the boats for the water.
Quest, as you will have read, has had a new foredeck, and the mast housing is being adapted to allow us to dip the mast to get under the bridge at Haverfordwest. The mainsail also has been mended, after a mishap when reefing last year.
Undine, the Pembroke One Design, has a new coat of paint. We are forced to accept that her Stuart Turner engine is past redemption, and have not located a suitable replacement, so she will have to make do with an outboard when the wind fails.
General Picton is ready to be refloated, as are Rosyth, Linnet, and, of course, Supporter, our aptly named support vessel.
As for the boats that need more work done on them, both Tern, our other Pembroke One Design, and Activist, the ex-Outward Bound 26ft. two-masted ketch, are being lovingly restored to appear, probably not this year but, we hope, next year.
Our working day is, as ever, Monday. We often have as many as a dozen both men and
ladies, working on the boats, but we can always do with more. You don’t have to be skilled, but
it helps. We break at half time for a coffee and a chat.

Then there is the Society dinner on the 14th April. Details below.

There is also the A.G.M. The 29thAnnual General Meeting of the Society
19.30 hours Monday 30th April, 2012
Neyland YachtClub, Neyland, Pembrokeshire


Apologies, Attendance,
Minutes of previous meeting.
Officers' reports
Matters arising.
Election of Officers and Committee Members
Nomination of Officers and Committee Members may be
submitted prior to the meeting, or nominated from the floor at the Chairman's
discretion and with the nominee's consent.
Consideration of any matters put to the
Secretary in writing.
To be received by the Secretary no later than a fortnight
before the meeting, in accordance with our constitution, or from the floor at
the Chairman's discretion.

working committee meeting.

(a) Please make every effort to attend. The
committee gives an assurance that members attending will not be press-ganged
onto the new committee against their wishes. We need your views and
Minutes will be distributed at the meeting to minimise costs.

David James,
Hon Secretary.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Monday, March 12, 2012

Next Winter Programme Event.

Pembrokeshire Shipwrecks

an illustrated presentation by

Ted Goddard

the leading authority on the history of shipwrecks around our coast

Neyland Yacht Club
[ by kind agreement of the Yacht Club]

Thursday 22 March

7.30 pm

all welcome - admission free
Retiring Collection for the RNLI at Angle

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Next Winter Programme Event

West Wales Maritime Heritage

DVD Presentation
La Semaine du Golfe
the biennial festival for traditional craft in Brittany alternating with

Seafair Haven

Steamers to Pembroke [2011]

a short film produced by Barry Burgess,
Kevin Macauley and David James

Neyland Yacht Club
[ by kind agreement of the Yacht Club]

Thursday 23 February

7.30 pm

all welcome, admission free but there will be a retiring collection
West Wales Maritime Heritage Society is a Company Limited by Guarantee no. 2611959 Registered Charity no. 1042428

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Next Winter Event

West Wales Maritime Heritage

Val Howells
Pioneer Single-Handed
Transatlantic Race Yachtsman
Deepwater Sailor
his latest book
Sailing Into Solitude

followed by an optional

Neyland Yacht Club

Thursday 26 January 2012
7.00 pm
[Please note early start]

Admission free but there will be a retiring collection

West Wales Maritime Heritage Society is a Company Limited by Guarantee no. 2611959 Registered Charity no. 1042428