New Coastwatch station planned for Thanet

NCI unit at Ramsgate. Credit David Taylor Media

The National Coastwatch Institution is planning a new permanent watchkeeping station in Thanet.

The charity is the only organisation which operates a growing number of sea-facing stations, currently 59,  around the UK from which trained volunteers keep a daily lookout for people’s safety along the coast.

The new station in either Margate or Ramsgate will supplement existing services provided by HM Coastguard and the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI).

Local stations are self-funded and run by volunteer watchkeepers, fundraisers and helpers.

As well as a new station location, people interested in receiving training to qualify as volunteer watchkeepers and new supporters are now being asked to register their interest. They can do this on the NCI website  Information for Potential Watchkeepers | National Coastwatch Institution (nci.org.uk) or in person by visiting the NCI’s display unit on Ramsgate seafront prom  from now until 13 September.

Station Manager Paul Waterman, said: “We’re really excited at the prospect of opening a new station where there’s a clear need for extra coastal safety. And we’re really grateful for the support of Thanet District Council for allowing us to place our unit on the seafront.

“We’re now looking for people to come on board with us who can spare just a few hours each month doing vital work that really does help save lives. We’re a very friendly bunch and the next few weeks in Ramsgate are a great time for anyone interested to come along and find out more.”

Cllr Steve Albon, Cabinet Member for Cleansing and Coastal Services at Thanet District Council, said: “Keeping our residents and visitors safe is extremely important to Thanet District Council, and we welcome NCI to Ramsgate seafront.

“We work in close partnership with a number of organisations, who each play a key role in ensuring the safety of beach users around our coast, and we are grateful to all of them. I would encourage anyone who is interested in volunteering to get in touch with NCI.”

NCI develops new stations where it sees evidence of the need from HM Coastguard and RNLI analysis of incidents.

Paul said: “We closed our station at Herne Bay earlier this year because the leased building became unsafe. A need for a station in the Ramsgate or Margate area has now been identified and we hope it will be up and running by the end of the year.”

National Coastwatch stations are ‘Eyes Along The Coast’, with watchkeepers using optical instruments, ship identification software, and CCTV cameras to monitor beaches, coastal paths, sand bars, tide, and weather as well as out to sea.

The volunteers also monitor maritime VHF radio channels and provide a listening watch. Volunteers do not need to have any maritime experience because they will be fully trained by NCI.

4 Comments

    • Given they’ll have visibility over a small stretch and these stations aren’t often situated on beachheads, well…

  1. Never heard of them, and I have spent most of my life in, on, and near the sea! Are they a remnant of the Observer Corp?

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