ONE hundred years ago Llandudno lifeboat carried out a dramatic rescue, saving the lives of the crew of a small trading vessel in anger of drifting ashore in a full gale at Colwyn Bay.

The rescue resulted in John Owen, the lifeboat’s coxswain, being awarded a bronze medal for gallantry.

A spokesman for Llandudno lifeboat outlined the history of the rescue: “The Ada Mary, a ketch rigged coastal trading ship of a design known as a Mersey jigger flat, was on passage from Wicklow to Widnes with a cargo of timber. She was manned by a crew of two.”

North Wales Pioneer: The bronze medal. Picture: RNLIThe bronze medal. Picture: RNLI

“Within a few hours, she had lost sails and rigging and was drifting before the gale towards the North Wales shoreline. However, before they got too close to shore, the crew managed to let go both of the ship’s anchors not far from Rhos-on-Sea. One of the anchor cables parted soon after.

“The crew’s distress signals were seen by the lifeboat station at Llanddulas, but the conditions were so bad that launching its lifeboat would have been impossible, so a launch message was quickly sent to Llandudno lifeboat station instead.”

He added: “Llandudno’s lifeboat Theodore Price was launched at 1.00pm and made its way under sail to clear the Little Orme’s Head, but it was swamped by the seas three times before continuing on its way.

“Eventually they managed to get alongside the Ada Mary long enough to rescue her exhausted crew. She later broke from her remaining anchor and was wrecked near Pensarn.

“The Theodore Price tried to sail back to Llandudno for two hours but the wind and strongly flooding tide meant they could make little progress. Concerned about all on board, Coxswain John Owen turned the boat to make for Colwyn Bay and successfully beached her, an extremely hazardous operation to achieve safely.

“The gale persisted so the following day it was decided to return the lifeboat by road. This involved a team of ten horses along with 47 shore helpers, hauling the lifeboat back on to its carriage via Llandudno Junction and Deganwy. One can imagine it being very late before the exhausted and very relieved volunteers finally reached the Llandudno Boat house to conclude this dramatic rescue.”