6th July 2018. The old Coastguard Lookout standing on Pendvaden Head, Portscatho, has given sterling service for over a hundred years. Built in an era when all lifeboats were rowed, storm cones were hoisted, and the only main means of signalling danger was a rocket, the original building could not keep up with today’s demands. The Coastguard abandoned it in the 1970’s and it stood idle till 2002 when the NCI Portscatho station was formed. The spiders were ejected, a good clean and the first hardy souls began their watches. Access is across a field using the cliff path, several hundred yards from the road. There is no electricity to the site and a system of portable batteries is installed to run the radio. There was a telephone line, unused for years, but BT was persuaded to re-connect it. The minimum essentials of equipment were bought with much financial help from local well-wishers and the new Station was in business.
Over the years the programme of steady improvement has continued. There is still no mains electricity or water but rainwater is collected so windows can be washed and a dog bowl provided. A small extension was built to allow the luxury of a Porta-Potti and better equipment has been purchased, the finances largely coming from a very efficient fund-raising team. One problem, however, has always remained. Like many of the original Lookouts the windows are set in a semi-circle which means that the two opposite side windows face one another. Because they were vertical and plain glass under certain conditions of light each gave a mirror image of the other’s view superimposed on what the Watchkeeper could see. One side looks out on to Portscatho harbour and anchorage and the mirror effect made it appear that anchored boats on the south west side were off the beach to the north east. The Watchkeepers lived with this phenomenon for years, often going outside to check, as there was insufficient money available to make this expensive change.
Last year a campaign was started to raise the funds. A grant and loan was provided from the NCI central funds and the local fundraisers increased their efforts. Local organisations heard of our problem and came forward with larger donations. By the end of the year the money was raised, a builder found, the new sloping windows designed and all was ready. The winter weather did its best to hold up the work but, with everyone pitching in, the new windows were installed by the time the Station re-opened in March for the new season and Sarah Newton, M.P. conducted the inauguration ceremony in June in the presence of Lesley Suddes, NCI Chairman, NCI members and local organisations and fishermen.