One of the worst boating tragedies in North Wales, the Penmaenpool boat disaster, resulted in the deaths of 15 people, including four children.

A service is to be held to mark the 50th anniversary of the Penmaenpool boat disaster.

The pleasure boat, Prince of Wales, was on its regular two-hour return trip from Barmouth to Penmaenpool, near Dolgellau in North Wales when tragedy struck on the 22 July, 1966.

The skipper of the clinker built boat was trying to to manoeuvre the vessel to the jetty when it hit the Penmaenpool toll bridge.

The impact caused a five feet, six inch long hole in the hull of the boat, which began sinking rapidly.

The passengers were thrown into the strong, incoming tide, and dragged upstream.

Staff from the nearby George III Hotel and the toll bridge tried to help.

The hotel’s proprietor, John Hall launched his 9-foot rowing boat. Along with two of his employees, David Jones and Robert Jones, they helped rescue many of the passengers.

Speaking during the 40th anniversary of the disaster, Robert Jones said he was still haunted by those he did not save.

“I rushed to the other side of the toll bridge and managed to pull two boys, aged around nine or 10, out of the water and help them up the bank. Then, as I looked out, there was a sight that haunts me to this day,” he told the Daily Post.

“About 30 yards out a little girl was being washed away by the strong incoming tide and I was helpless,” said Jones. “There was nothing I could do.”

Ronald Davies rescued the lives of two children, wading into the River Mawddach to save them.

Out of the 42 passengers who boarded the 32-foot Prince of Wales that day, 15 died. Four of them were children.

A subsequent inquiry in October 1966 found that disaster was caused by the “negligent handling” of the boat by its 73-year-old skipper, Edward Llewellyn Jones.

Judge Barry Sheen QC also found the vessel was “inadequately manned” for its journey. Jones was the only crew on board at the time of the disaster.

The Prince of Wales was licensed to carry only 36 people.

No prosecution was brought against Jones, although he was ordered to pay £100 towards the cost of the inquiry.

His brothers, John and Harry, who were co-owners in the Prince of Wales, were ordered to pay £50 each.

As a result of the disaster, the government changed the law resulting in stricter enforcement of the licensing of pleasure boats and insurance.

To mark the 50th anniversary of the tragedy on 22 July, the Dolgellau Town Council is holding a commemorative event.

A two minute silence is expected to be held at 11.50am – the time the tragedy struck.

A wreath will be laid and a plaque will be unveiled to remember those who died and to honour those who risked their lives to save so many.

Some of the relatives of those that died are expected to attend.