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How the need for an RAF rescue service developed into a vision of community service
At the outbreak of World War II, the RAF set up an Air/Sea Rescue base on the Ferryside foreshore, deploying high-speed motor boats from a large Nissen hut to rescue airmen shot down over the sea. Personnel were accommodated in billets situated next to the main road to Carmarthen. However, the high tidal range and shifting sandbanks created problems, and rescue operations were relocated to Aberystwyth in 1942.
The RAF kept the Ferryside facility as a maintenance base and used The Billets to house up to 120 men stationed here. There were four Nissen huts (removed in the 1980s) and some wooden huts (still used today), along with an open hangar – three walls and a roof – which was later adapted into a hall.
After the war, the County Council used the site for a variety of purposes, including supplying school dinners to the village primary school children who walked here every lunchtime until the school set up its own catering operation in 1990.
Meanwhile, the buildings were developed as a Further Education Centre, which was officially opened in 1969 by Charles Neville, Lord Lieutenant of Carmarthenshire. There was a new dining room and kitchen, several classrooms, 60 bedrooms and two bath/shower rooms. In 1977, wash basins were installed in the bedrooms. The County Council staged training courses, conferences and evening classes here, and hired the facilities out to organisations (including The National Youth Orchestra, Wakers Education Association and The Church in Wales) for residential events.
This Further Education Centre closed in 2009. In 2010, the Minafon doctors’ surgery moved in, and in 2013 a Saturday market began. The Men’s Shed took over one of the billet huts in 2014.
In late 2015 Ferryside Social Enterprise Group (FSEG) signed a 99 year lease with the Council to bring the buildings back into use. Various stages of renovation have taken place: creating a business unit for small local businesses, improving the energy efficiency of the building by upgrading windows & door and installing solar panels on the roof, and the most recent development of 5 highly accessible holiday rooms.
The site is now a vibrant place for everyone to enjoy, whether visiting on holiday, using our business facilities, or enjoying refreshments in the Café
Photos of the Development
This is where we started…
This is where we have got to…