Image: West Wales Maritime Heritage Society Logo  


News & Events





Friday February 14th 2020

Hero's welcome for Fishguard's Charterhouse lifeboat

Charterhouse Lifeboat welcomed to Pembroke Dock

On Friday, February 14th we gave an official welcome to Fishguard’s historic Charterhouse Lifeboat at its new home in Hancock’s Yard.  The ceremony was conducted by the Lord Lieutenant of Dyfed, Sara Edwards and was attended by local dignitaries including the Chairman of Pembrokeshire County Council, Simon Hancock, and the mayors of Pembroke, Pembroke Dock, Neyland, Milford, Fishguard and Goodwick

Its arrival here coincided with the 99th anniversary of her most famous rescue of the crew of the doomed Dutch ship Hermina, which foundered on Needle Rock on December 4th, 1920.  The intrepid lifeboat crew, led by coxswain John Howells, carried out a heroic operation, saving nearly all the crew with just one fatality. Their feat was honoured with the boat and crew being taken to London and receiving medals from the then Prince of Wales.

The Charterhouse Returns Trust has struggled to find a suitable exhibition space in her home port of Goodwick. Said Trust chairman Gwilym Price.

“We didn’t have a location for her in the Fishguard and Goodwick area and we are delighted that she has been accepted in the West Wales Maritime Heritage Society museum where she will be well cared for.  They have an expert team of boat builders here and Trust volunteers will work with them to continue the restoration”.

Monday 9th December 2019

Charterhouse Lifeboat arrives at Hancock's Yard

Charterhouse lifeboat arrives at Hancock's Yard

The Charterhouse Lifeboat has now arrived at Hancock's Yard!  It was formerly at Fishguard

but relocated to our yard for public display and there is soon to be a welcoming ceremony.  

Seen here being craned into position by Ledwoods Engineering, Pembroke Dock.

Friday 6th December 2019

A West Wales historian has received a prestigious Japanese commendation to thank him for his work in creating a memorial in Pembrokeshire in honour of the 210 people who lost their lives when a Japanese merchant vessel, Hirano Maru, sank after being torpedoed by a German U-boat during the First World War. The memorial was unveiled last year in Angle Churchyard at a ceremony at which HRH The Duke of Gloucester was in attendance.

David James, 81, from Pembrokeshire, is the Secretary of West Wales Maritime Heritage Society received the Japanese Ambassador’s Commendation at a special ceremony and reception that was held at the Japanese Ambassador’s residence in London on Friday 6 December.

Mr. James also initiated the idea of returning ‘Togo’s Ginkgo’ trees grown by local people in Pembrokeshire to Japan. About thirty Ginkgo trees have been cultivated in the National Botanic Garden of Wales. They are now fully-grown and large enough to transport to Japan next week.  The project is being supported by volunteers in Japan, including private citizens and officials of the various destinations receiving trees which include cities which have or used to have military ports such as Kure, Maizuru, Sasebo and Yokosuka, the cities of Kagoshima and Chiyodaku and the Togo Shrine.  The trees will be transported all the way from Wales to Hiroshima Botanical Garden.

Note: Photo shows Mr James receiving his Commendation from the Yasumasa Nagamine, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of  Japan. (photo: copyright "Embassy of Japan in the UK")


26th August 2019 - Fun Day at the Boatyard

Fantastic Fun Day at the West Wales Heritage Society Boatyard in Front Street, Pembroke Dock as

hundreds of Bikers arrived at a fundraising event to raise £4,000 needed to install electricity  into

our buildings.  A great success - visitors were able to enjoy BBQ, a bar and sea activities as well as taking a look around the Boatyard and Museum.


13th July 2019 - The Pembroke River Rally

This year's River Rally was another great success and has become an established event on the Pembroke calendar.

Pembroke Town Council organise lots of fun events on the Quayside while we organise the flotilla of boats. The lifeboat leading the way to carrying the Mayor of Pembroke to the South Quay, thereby exercising the right of navigation up the Pembroke River.   Around 30 boats participated this year - a lovely sight sailing into Pembroke Castle Pond!

The Mayor of Pembroke arrives at the South Quay

Monday 27th May 2019 - Fun Day at the Boatyard


10th February 2019

For his efforts in raising the funding to pay for the memorial to the victims of the Japanese merchant ship Hirano Maru, sunk in the last weeks of World War One, David James has received the prestigious Point of Light Award.  As a former serviceman, David spent time serving the British Army in Germany and Libya, where he noticed the graves of British soldiers had markers, inspiring him to commemorate the victims of war in his hometown. David hopes the memorial will commemorate the victims and keep the story alive among younger generations to help them understand the realities of war.

In a personal letter to David, Prime Minister Theresa May said:

“You should be enormously proud of your work fundraising for a new memorial to the crew and passengers of the Japanese merchant ship sunk in the final days of World War One. Your compassion and dedication to commemorating these victims is truly exceptional. I wish you every success with your continued work.”

David commented: 

“When I first thought of restoring the memorial over the grave of ten Japanese merchant seamen in Angle, Pembrokeshire I had no idea that it would touch so many people and succeed beyond my wildest expectations. Pembrokeshire people supported me, and so too did many Japanese people from ordinary citizens and dignitaries to HRH the Duke of Gloucester and His Excellency Koji Tsuruoka, Japanese Ambassador to the UK. During my searches I have made many Japanese friends, both in the UK and in Japan, all of whom feel that I have done them a great service, although I did not realise the enormity of it until they explained it to me at the unveiling ceremony. Thus to be awarded the Point of Light is the crowning moment of this whole project and I am humbled and honoured to be presented with it. May I thank those who have noticed my efforts and may I also express my sincere gratitude to all who have supported my nomination for the award.”

Friday 26th October 2018

Following the unveiling of the Japanese war memorial at Angle on the 4th October 2018 David and Margaret James  were invited to go to London where David would  speak to the Daiwa Anglo Japanese Foundation.

While there he was also invited to go to the Embassy of Japan to meet their Ambassador ,His Excellency Koji Tsuruoka.The meeting lasted half an hour , the Ambassador thanked David for the work of remembering the Japanese sailors and complimenting him on his tenacity and determination to get the job finished. The meeting also featured a tea ceremony ,again a great honour.

 Afterwards David and Margaret went to the palatial HQ of the Daiwa Anglo Japanese Foundation near Regents Park. After a successful talk by David, they attended a drinks reception and thence onto dinner at a nearby restaurant.A very eventful and exciting trip



Thursday 3rd October 2018

Photo - Drew Stiles

A memorial dedicated to the victims of a Japanese merchant ship Hirano Maru, which was sunk by the German navy during the First World War, was unveiled last week by the Duke of Gloucester in Angle Churchyard exactly 100 years after the sinking.

Only 30 of the 240 sailors and passengers on board the Hirano Maru survived when the ship was torpedoed by a German U-boat in the Irish Sea on October 4, 1918 - 10 of which were buried in the churchyard in Angle. A monument had been placed on the grave but that had disappeared over the years and David James, secretary of the West Wales Maritime Heritage Society had made it his mission to replace it.  Funds were raised for the memorial which was carved by a local stonemason.

Attending the service on Thursday, October 4th were HRH Duke of Gloucester, Lord Lieutenant of Dyfed, Sara Edwards alongside representatives from the Japanese Embassy and Nippon Yusen K.K, the company that owned the ship.  Descendants of the victims also attended the churchyard ceremony. At the service flowers were left by seventy-two-year-old Yoshiko Nakamura, whose grandfather Shintaro Yamamoto - an officer in the Imperial Japanese Navy was among the victims.

The event attracted media attention and was broadcast on the national news. In his interview, David James said“I was delighted to see so many Japanese people here. With so many people coming together in an act of remembrance and commemoration.”

The original memorial

Saturday 29th September 2018

David James (centre) with Mr Peter Hancock and ex employees at Hancocks Yard

Saturday 29th September afternoon saw the launch of our Secretary David James’ latest book ‘Hancock’s Shipbuilding Company in Pembroke Dock: the ships and the men who built them’.  Appropriately, the event took place in Hancock’s Yard, where we are based.  David is author of several maritime books and a popular speaker.  His popularity is such that the book launch, organised by Pembroke & Monkton Local History Society, drew large numbers.  The History Society has a publications’ arm and this is its third major local history book. 

P&M Chairman Linda Asman opened the event by thanking Mr Peter Hancock MBE for travelling back to Pembroke Dock to attend.  Mr Hancock spoke of the time he set up his company, returning to Pembrokeshire in 1962 wanting to live his dream of building ships like his grandfather had done – and for almost the next 20 years he did just that.  He thanked David for gathering together the stories and memories of the company, stating that it was a privilege to have worked as part of that wonderful community of men who displayed such pride in their work.  Together they built over 40 craft of one sort or another.

David James signs copies of his new book at Hancocks Yard David James and Mr Peter Hancock

 Many ex employees attended the event and enjoyed the opportunity to reminisce, wander around the boat yard and visit the maritime museum which the WWMHS has set up in one of the buildings.  The book proved popular too – 105 books were sold during the course of the afternoon!

 Thanks were extended to the committee of the History Society for supplying refreshments and also to Mr Keith Johnson for his much valued work in editing the book which was printed by Gomer Press. 

Click here for book review


Saturday August 29th 2018

Tenby Lugger's Maiden Voyage to Tenby

On Saturday, August 25th three WWMHS members – Skipper Rob Phillips with  Gareth John and Stuart Asman as crew – sailed our Tenby Lugger Heritage from Hancock’s Yard, Pembroke Dock to Tenby.  They were met by Nathan Spiller, Commodore of Tenby Sailing Club, off Caldey and escorted by Sailing Club members into the harbour.  After a blessing service by Canon Andrew Grace, a reception was held in the Sailing Club for the Crew and invited guests. Click here for more