Purpose-built watchtower unveiled in Torbay

National Coastwatch has officially opened its first purpose-built watchtower on Daddyhole Plain, Torbay.

The £50,000 tower, which has been in part-time use since last summer, enables watchkeepers to see as much as 15 miles out to sea.

Now in full-time service the facility is operated by trained volunteers, with 46 qualified watchkeepers, 10 under training and three more waiting to start their training.

A plaque marking yesterday afternoon’s opening ceremony was unveiled by Admiral Sir Neville Purvis KCB.

Referring to PM David Cameron’s ‘Big Society’, Sir Neville said, ‘I can’t believe there is any better example than the one we are seeing here today of making things happen for the general good.’

Following the unveiling, NCI Chairman Alan Richards said: ‘The future of NCI depends entirely on growth; on growing stations around the coast where they are most needed, so that we can improve and increase the level of support which we give to our colleagues in the search and rescue organisation. We are developing a firm financial and managerial platform capable of sustaining growth on that scale.’

He continued: ‘The one thing that remains constant is the NCI stations and the volunteer teams that man them. They always have been, and they will continue to be, the powerhouse of the organisation.’

The National Coastwatch Institution is a charity that operates a network of visual watch stations along the coast. Currently 46 NCI stations, manned by 1,900 volunteers, have opened in England and Wales since 1994, but extension of this network depends on fundraising. NCI works with the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, but not for it, and 95% of NCI stations have achieved Declared Facility Status as agreed by the MCA.


Photo: Admiral Sir Neville Purvis KCB unveils the plaque celebrating the opening of NCI Torbay