Station History

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.

Under attack!

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.

Sophisticated equipment
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. 


Currently 56 NCI stations are operational and manned by over 2600 volunteers keeping watch around the British Isles from Fleetwood in the North West, through Wales, to the South and East of England to Hornsea in the East Riding of Yorkshire. 

NCI 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 NCI 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

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0845 460 1202

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17 Dean Street, Liskeard,
Cornwall, PL14 4AB