According to Visit Pembrokeshire’s website Pembroke Dock was the world’s largest ever flying boat port and the town is unique as it is the only town within the UK that had an association with all three UK Armed services – the Royal Navy, the Army and the Royal Air Force at the same point in history. The flying boat centre is situated in Pembroke Dock because once the Royal Air Force took over the disused dockyards in 1931 bringing with them Southhampton II flying boats, it earned the accolade in 1943 as being the largest operational base for flying boats in the world.
The Flying Boat Centre in Pembroke Dock tells some of the stories of Pembroke Dock, affectionately known as ‘PD’ and its flying boats. The centre recalls Pembroke Dock‘s long connections with flying boats, from biplanes to the mighty Sunderland. The centre features displays, stories, models, medals and uniforms. It highlights the long service career of the Sunderland and its various marks. It also showcases other flying boats including the Catalina and civil variants. There is a dedicated workshop team conserving parts of a unique wartime survivor, the Sunderland Flying Boat serial number T9044.
Sunderland Flying Boat serial number T9044 is the only Mark I left in the world. T9044 sank off Pembroke Dock in a 1940 gale. The centre has plans to recover the remains of T9044 and display it as part of a Battle of the Atlantic story. A Pegasus engine, already recovered, is the centrepiece of the Workshop display. You can also try out T9044’s original Astrodome. The centre has interactive displays including an animation of Sunderland T9044 on the seabed.
The centre was recently reviewed on TripAdvisor, with the feedback stating: “This is a very worthwhile visit to get a little bit of local history of the shaping of Pembroke Dock and its important role in the Battle of the Atlantic. Considering this is run by volunteers the exhibits are up there with the very best. The building is beautifully restored and the perfect location for the Heritage Centre. The staff are both knowledgeable and friendly. For a small local attraction cannot recommend this enough”.