Why National Coastwatch?


Let me take you back to 1994. At this time the Coast Guard maintained many small stations around our coasts, some no more than lookouts, most of these were forced to close because of government rationalisation and modernisation. Shortly after this lives were lost when two fishermen drowned near the site of a recently-closed station at Bass Point, Cornwall.

This tragedy caused a public spirited group to band together and the National Coast Watch Institution was formed. Registered as a charity No 1159975 it campaigned for the re-establishment of a visual watch in Cornwall. This was opened at Bass point near the Lizard in November 1994.

Other stations quickly followed and by the end of  2012 there were 49 stations around the coast of Great Britain.

Today there are over 2000 volunteers maintaining a visual and radio watch in lookouts around the coastline of the British Isles. Additionally the larger stations maintain a RADAR watch. Emergencies are reported to the appropriate authorities for action, usually HM Coastguard. Last year (2011) a total of 190,039 man-hours watch were carried out by NCI Watchkeepers, who recorded over 424,497 commercial, military and leisure vessel movements, and reported a total of 304 incidents to HM Coastguard, Fire, Police and Ambulance services, of which 53 were NCI-initiated Lifeboat rescues.

We also dealt with numerous minor incidents such as lost children, carcasses, large debris or drums of chemicals washed upon the beach.

This all adds up to a worth-while project which is in need of volunteers.

If you feel that you could devote some time to this, contact our station manager and join us.

Contact John Sykes 01227 01227 282274


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

Media enquiries
0845 460 1202

[email protected]

17 Dean Street, Liskeard,
Cornwall, PL14 4AB