West Wales Maritime Museum

A working museum where the craft of wooden boat building is being kept alive

This site of living heritage not only has a fascinating collection of wooden boats, it is a working boatyard preserving a beautiful craft


West Wales Maritime Museum is a working museum situated at Hancock's Yard in Pembroke Dock. Hancock’s Yard has been a boatyard for over 200 years and West Wales Maritime Heritage Society, who run the museum, continue to build and repair boats here, making this a site of living heritage. The museum is not only home to a fascinating collection of historic boats and a research library, but boats are also restored and even new boats built here to historic designs, like the beautiful Tenby Lugger Heritage, the mascot of the museum.

The museum is run by volunteers, who also work on restoring boats on a daily basis. The most spectacular is the Fishguard Charterhouse Lifeboat, which sits under its own special awning and is in the process of being restored. The lifeboat was paid for by the students and alumni if the famous Charterhouse School; she was one of the first in the Royal National Lifeboats Institution (RNLI) to be fitted with a motor, which added to the oar power of the crew in rough seas. Charterhouse and her valiant crew saved 47 lives (and a dog!), her most famous rescue was of the Dutch Motor Schooner Hermina, which was caught in a terrible storm outside Fishguard Harbour on the 3 December 1920. The brave crew of the Charterhouse managed to take 7 passengers off the boat, though they were being entirely engulfed in waves, which took down the sail and rendered the engine useless. The crew managed to row her back to the safety of Fishguard Harbour, and then went on to undertake a cliff rescue of the remaining crew, who had clambered onto the rocks from the wrecked boat.

Such is the richness of the wonderful collection at the West Wales Maritime Museum, they also have a silver watch gifted by the Dutch Queen one of the lifeboat crew. In her presentation of the watches the Queen said: “Please don’t consider these watches as rewards for your heroism … such heroism as has been displayed by you cannot be rewarded with a material gift, as there is no equivalent in money or any material profit for the lives of the men you rescued”.

There are so many fascinating stories attached to the coracles and canoes, yachts and yawls that form the museum collection. The West Wales Maritime Heritage Society are seeking volunteers to help not only with boat restoration (including the mighty Charterhouse) but also with exhibition curation and tour guiding. Visitors will be infected with the enthusiasm of Peter Kraus, Chairman of the West Wales Maritime Heritage Society, and the museum team, indeed you might end up volunteering yourself! Another way to visit and enjoy the site is to book an experience in Britain’s only ‘Escape Boat’ – you’ll have fun and help to support the museum.


Hancock's Yard, Front Street, Pembroke Dock, SA72 6JY, United Kingdom