Lifeboat Station

Tenby, United Kingdom | C.1844

Photo Credit: Drew Haigh

“It’s the bee’s knees and the cat’s pajamas.” If we were Tim O’Donovan or his wife Philomena, the new owners of the historic Lifeboat Station along Tenby Beach, Wales, we would be equally ecstatic. 

Built in 1852 by The Shipwrecked Fishermen and Mariners’ Royal Benevolent Society and later acquired by the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI), the Tenby Lifeboat Station is as rich in history as it is in natural beauty. The Station was awarded 6 RNLI Silver Medals for several acts of life-saving bravery along the Welsh coast in the 19th Century and was in operation during World War II in service of sea planes stationed at Milford Haven.

Over the years, Tenby has become a popular tourist destination. Last year, Tenby was named one of the most photogenic beaches in the world–ripe with vibrant pastel houses and a bustling boardwalk atop a curvature of cliffs and unblemished beach. The influx of visitors necessitated  some updates to the old Lifeboat Station and, in 2008, a modern Station was erected, leaving the RNLI with a problem: what to do with the old, deprecated Station?

Enter the O’Donovans. Cardiff locals, Tim and Philomena were looking for a picturesque vacation home where they could dock their boat. Being a150-year old infrastructure perched 40ft above the sea, the O’Donovans’ newly acquired home posed a difficult architectural dilemma. Since the old Station has no access except across the sandy beach, deliveries had to be timed with the changing tides, a logistical headache that took remodeling over 8 years to complete.

With a private slipway for their boat and kitchen and living room overlooking the world-renowned photogenic Tenby harbor, the wait was well worth it. Who wouldn’t enjoy a view of the sea while still in their pajamas?

Written By: Sam Jacobson

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