Rhoscolyn has a fascinating history, with its patron saint, Gwenfaen, first making her home and church here in 630 AD. Some say that the druids’ last stand against the Romans, who invaded Mona (Anglesey) in 60 or 61 AD, was at Cymyran, the inland sea between Mona and Holy Island and the open sea, south of Four Mile Bridge.
British Steamship Bobara
On January 24, 1955, the 7,279-tonne British steamship Bobara was grounded on a reef off Rhoscolyn Head. Press reports told how the ship had been loaded with iron and grain in Baltimore, US, bound for Manchester. It left Baltimore for St John’s and Manchester along the River Mersey and Manchester Ship Canal. But the vessel, formerly an American wartime “Sam” boat, encountered low water in poor visibility and struck Cheese Rocks near Rhoscolyn.
Soon afterwards, the ship’s captain, Cpt Andrew Flint, stripped to his underpants and greased himself with cooking fat to keep out the cold. Jumping into the icy water, he swam in darkness through fog and heavy seas to the shore where he was met by members of the Rhoscolyn Lifesaving Association (sic). They wrapped him in a tarpaulin and took him by tractor to Bryn Davies’s Pentre Gwyddel Farm nearby.
He returned across the muddy field to find the lifesaving crew had rigged up a breeches buoy using rope. Thirty-three crewmen were taken off (pictured above – captured by George Lees, a customs officer). Mr Lees, originally from Manchester, had been dispatched to Holyhead from his previous posting in London. Although off-duty that day, he accompanied some of the officers as they inspected the ship, managing to picture some of the crewmen being rescued from the vessel. He said: “I wasn’t on duty that day but decided to go along to have a look anyway. It was quite an extraordinary sight for a young man, which I was at the time. After the crew got off safely, the vessel was transported to Holyhead for emergency repairs and was refloated a few days later.
He continued: “It was very unusual for the captain himself to go and get help, and I believe he was disciplined thereafter. I imagine he really regretted not sending one of the crew members!”
And here is the very breeches buoy that was used that day – which was on display at the July History event in Rhoscolyn hall – lent by Susan Hanbury. Whose father, Evan Evans of Bryn Golau, was one of the lifesaving team pictured above (top picture). Susan tells us that she is fairly certain that he is the chap centre front of the picture (with his back turned).