St Alban's Head - QAVS

Welcome to NCI St Alban's Head Station (SAH)


Location 50 34.75N   02 03.41W. Grid reference SY961755


Originally there was a Coastguard station and a further store built in 1895 at St Aldhelm’s Head (see ‘St Aldhelm’s or St Alban’s’). More buildings were constructed inland at Weston, Worth Matravers, in the 1950s. To this day the Weston buildings are still used by the auxiliary Coastguard cliff rescue team. The present building was constructed for HM Coastguard in the 1970s, and when the Coastguard service ceased to man visual lookouts in 1994, the building was returned to the landowner, the Encombe Estate. Since 1995, the Encombe Estate has leased the lookout to the National Coastwatch Institution.

         The NCI facility was opened in May 1995, thanks to the efforts of Mr Graham Roff, and was manned by local volunteers as a sub-station of NCI Peveril Point, Swanage. It became independent the following year and achieved Declared Facility Status in December 2005. In 2006 an Awards for All grant from the National Lottery allowed for a major refurbishment of the buildings, including the renewing and upgrading of some of the equipment in the station. 2020 the stations electrical supply was up graded in order to smooth out brown outs, at the same time a complete Operations room design and refit was under taken. 

         In 2012 the station was awarded the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service.

         The station is located 354 feet/107.9 metres above sea level on the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site, between the major pleasure and commercial ports of Poole and Swanage to the east and Weymouth and Portland to the west. The horizon on a clear day is 19.47 nautical miles, with views to the Isle of Wight. Directly to the east is Anvil Point with its lighthouse, which produces a white flash every ten seconds. The coastline then sweeps westward, passing Dancing Ledge, and round in a bay to St Alban’s Head. This area is a popular spot for climbing in all its forms, coasteering, kayaking, diving and jet skis, as well as recreational sailors and commercial fishermen. The South West Coast Path runs right past the station and attracts many walkers and runners.

         Immediately below SAH is the notorious St Alban’s Race. Then to the west of the station, the land sweeps past the Kimmeridge Ledges, through the military firing range area, to Weymouth and Portland. On a clear day the lighthouse at Portland Bill can be seen 15 nautical miles away. SAH works closely with the military firing range authorities. The range will inform the station daily of the firing arrangements for that day, and SAH watchkeepers will put up a red flag for them to warn seafarers that the range is active.  SAH announces the status of the range in the morning and evening broadcasts the station makes daily on channel 65.

         The area round SAH is a haven for wildlife and attracts many birdwatchers. Dolphins are regularly spotted out at sea and playing in the race.



To contact the Lookout itself, during opening hours, (see below), please call 01929 439220.  Outside our normal hours, you may leave a voicemail, which will be actioned the next working day.   Please note that the Lookout itself is not equipped with e-mail facilities. 

General enquiries to the Station, for example: potential membership matters, participation in future events, or for information on donations, are preferably handled by e-mail. Please contact [email protected]  - this e-mail address is checked frequently, but is not monitored 24/7.  Mail is reviewed and then actioned as necessary.

In case of maritime emergencies, out of hours: please call 999 and ask for HM Coastguard. 


Visitor Policy
Visitors are normally most welcome at the lookout although, rarely, when an incident is ongoing or when training is taking place, this may not always be convenient and the duty watchkeeper may need to ask visitors to call back later. The station holds 5 formal Open Day events during Christmas & New Year (7 days) and Bank Holiday weekends during the year: these are usually the weekends of Easter (4 days),both May Bank Holiday (3 days), and August Bank Holiday (3 days).

The lookout is on the SW Coast Path and is also accessible by a rough track from Worth Matravers.

Local Hazards
When firing is taking place at the nearby Lulworth Ranges a red flag is flown from the nearby flagstaff, and flashing red lights are illuminated on each side of the lookout building. Normally, firing takes place every weekday 0930 - 1700; plus most Tuesday and Thursday nights until 2359; and occasionally at weekends. The ranges are often inactive during holiday periods. Depending on the calibre of weapons being used, the danger area is often less - in both range and spread - than that marked on local navigation charts and OS maps. For information on today's firing times and danger areas, please contact the station, using 01929 439220 or VHF Ch 65.
Operational capability
This station has Declared Facility Status
This station reports to JRCC Fareham
Current weather and sea conditions are available by telephone or on VHF Ch 65 during watch hours
Defibrillator Available: 
Mounted externally available 24 x7 call number displayed on unit for instructions
Station Telephone: 
01929 439220
Visual Watch: 
Radar Watch: 
AIS Watch: 
CCTV Watch: 
DSC Watch: 
Radio: Listening watch on channels: 
Radio: Channels in use (call direct not via ch 16): 
Radio: Channel 00: 
Listening watch and ready to transmit as authorised by Coastguard
Station Call Sign: 
St Albans Head NCI
Other Watch Information: 
Lookout telephone 01929 439220 (voicemail outside our normal opening hours).
Visual Horizon: 
19.47 NM
Radar Horizon: 
22.81 NM


Station Info

Station Address
NCI St Albans Head
St Alban's Head
Worth Matravers
BH19 3LN
Station telephone number
01929 439220
Station email address
Station contact
Station contact role
Station Manager
via station 01929 439220
Station website
Summer opening
Open from: 
Open until: 
Every Day
As shown above the "Summer Hours" period will encompass the calendar months of April - October inclusive; "Winter Hours" period will encompass the calendar months of November - March inclusive .
Winter opening
Open from: 
Open until: 
Every Day
During the winter period, the station closes at sunset, if earlier than 1700 GMT, (usually from the ending of BST, at the end of October, through to early February the following year). The station is closed on Christmas Day. As shown above the "Winter Hours" period will encompass the calendar months of November - March inclusive . "Summer Hours" period will encompass the calendar months of April - October inclusive.
OS Reference: 
SY 961 755
Station Elevation: 
354'/107.9 meters
Visual features of station
The lookout is a white-painted ex-coastguard station .


Currently almost 60 National Coastwatch stations are operational and manned by over 2600 volunteer watchkeepers around the British Isles from Fleetwood in the North West, through Wales, to the South and East of England to Filey in North Yorkshire. 

National Coastwatch watchkeepers provide the eyes and ears along the coast, monitoring radio channels and providing a listening watch in poor visibility. They are trained to deal with emergencies offering a variety of skills and experience, and full training by the National Coastwatch ensures that high standards are met.








The words National Coastwatch Institution and Eyes Along the Coast and the NCI logos are Registered Trademarks of NCI.


General enquiries
0300 111 1202

Media enquiries
0845 460 1202

[email protected]

17 Dean Street, Liskeard,
Cornwall, PL14 4AB