In 1861, Polruan Town Trust leased to the Admiralty a piece of land on St Saviours Hill for 99 years for a yearly rent of five shillings. The lease included the plot of land at the eastern end of St Saviours Hill adjacent to the ruins known as St Saviours Chapel in Polruan, together with all existing buildings or those to be erected in the future. The Admiralty also had to pay the land tax, sewage rates, and all taxes except income tax, and to agree not to carry on any dangerous trade or business without the consent of the Town Trust, or to dispose of the property. The Admiralty were to remove all buildings and materials if the ground were rented, and if it became useless for Coastguard purposes because of encroachment of the sea or river, then the lessees were to pay. By 1911 there was a regular Coastguard contingent of one officer and ten men manning the station.
On 19 July 1940, at 1718 hrs, a German aircraft circled the harbour and machine gunned the ferry and the Coastguard Lookout. The Coastguard on duty challenged the aircraft with his rifle single-handedly and local lore has it that several hits were scored. The aircraft then went on and scored a direct hit on the Polruan Board Boys School just five minutes after the caretaker had left for the day.
After the Coastguard ceased its visual watches along the coast the building reverted to the Town Trust. It was then used for a while as the meeting place for the local Brownies and Girl Guides; subsequently it was used as a lookout by the Fowey Harbour Pilots. But on April 3rd, 1998, the building passed to the NCI and the Polruan Lookout Station was formally opened by Pete Goss, the round-the-world yachtsman.
Since then it has undergone several major refurbishments and the addition of various pieces of equipment when finances have permitted. From its relatively simple beginnings the station has evolved to the technologically advanced and comprehensively equipped Lookout that we have today. And all thanks to the dedication of our watchkeepers and the generosity of the public, whose on-going contributions enable us to continue safeguarding the lives of fishermen, yachtsmen, canoeists and other users of our coastal waters.