National Coastwatch Institution, Rossall Point

National Coastwatch Institution, Rossall Point

Rossall Point Coastwatchers pass their annual assessment

National Coastwatch volunteers at Rossall Point, have passed their annual Declared Facility Status  (DFS) assessment.

Fleetwood Coastwatch pass their annual assessmentThis photo shows volunteer Watchkeepers, Ian Glass and Steve Rawcliffe. Credit: Bob Loynes

The DFS was awarded to the Watchkeepers following a review of their records and facilities and also a successful joint exercise with Fleetwood RNLI, which took place last weekend. The NCI volunteers can now be integrated into the SAR (Search and Rescue) organisation and can support their SAR partners, when required.  

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The NCI volunteers, based in the at Rossall Point Observation Tower,  will now operate every day between 10am and 6pm in the summer and 4pm in the winter. They keep watch over the sands north of Fleetwood and the many boats, both commercial and leisure, which use Morecambe Bay.

Steve Scholes, Operations Manager for NCI Rossall Point said, ‘’ The DFS success is down to the hard work and commitment from the volunteers. We are also fortunate to have the services and facilities at Fleetwood Nautical College and we can’t thank them enough for their time and expertise.’’

Anyone wishing to find out more about the work of NCI at Rossall Point, or would like to join, should look up their excellent web site www.ncirossallpoint.co.uk. Volunteers are always required and no experience is necessary as training will be given.


Powered by Lions

National Coastwatch Institution (NCI), based at Rossall Point, recently received an important donation from Fleetwood and Cleveleys Lions.

Lions donation to Rossall Coastwatch

Following a presentation to the Fleetwood based charity organisation, NCI were donated an Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS). The Lion’s local President, Mary Ann Woodman and Paul Keirby, the Lion’s Welfare Chairman, visited the NCI station at Rossall Point, to hand over the gift.

The UPS ensures that vital electrical equipment doesn’t ‘crash’, in the event of a power outage or surge. This would become especially important, if the break in electricity supply came in the middle of an incident.  Vital equipment, like VHF radios, weather station and radar, would continue to function.

Steve Martin, the NCI Station Manager at Rossall Point said ‘’Receiving this type of support from the local community means a lot to the members of the team. This piece of equipment, ensures we’ll be able to give continued coverage when required. We can’t thank the Fleetwood and Cleveleys Lions enough for their very generous donation’’.


Record 2015 for Coastwatch

2015 was a record year for the volunteers from the National Coastwatch Institution at Rossall Point, near Fleetwood.

(Published January 2016)

They logged 5,285 volunteer hours, covering both shifts for all 365 days of the year, including Christmas Day. This was 15% higher than 2014.

Fleetwood Coastwatch class of 2015

National Coastwatch, based at the Rossall Point Observation Tower, keep a visual watch across the sand banks and beyond at Fleetwood and assists in the preservation and protection of life in the Morecambe Bay area.

Station Manager, Steve Martin said, ‘’ It’s a tremendous achievement from our volunteers. The hours covered, doesn’t take into account the training, the fund raising to stay operational and behind the scenes tasks. This shows the commitment our volunteers have for National Coastwatch and I can’t thank them enough for their support’’.

This follows the recent success on passing their annual assessment, which included an operational exercise with Fleetwood RNLI.


Find out More

About Rossall Point Coastwatch Tower

About volunteers at NCI Rossall Point

NCI Coastwatch on Twitter @rossallpoint


Dedicated Radio Channel for Coastwatch – (Published Sept 14)

The National Coastwatch Institution (NCI) has been allocated a national licence by OFCOM for the use of VHF Channel 65, which becomes operational on 1 October.

It will provide a communication channel between NCI lookouts and seafarers on a variety of routine matters.

Stations will be able to respond to requests from passing, as well as local sailing craft and fishing vessels for radio checks as well as actual weather and sea state conditions. They will also be able to provide on request information on a range of local facilities including, for example, local moorings, charted anchorages, water taxi contact details and local hazards.

It become operational on 1 October 2014 when Fleetwood Coastwatch along with all other national stations will go live for the first time on Channel 65. In the meantime, stations will be equipped with a dedicated radio for this purpose and the service will replace the practice of some stations currently holding a licence to operate on Marina Channel 37. This will no longer be available.

Commenting on the allocation, Alan Richards, Chairman of the National Coastwatch said: “NCI has long aspired to have the use of a dedicated national marine VHF channel to facilitate radio communications between stations and seafarers.

“This is a major milestone for us, not least as we celebrate the 20th anniversary of the start of our organisation. It is indeed a significant and welcome step forward for NCI and is an acknowledgement of our professional capability to communicate effectively with all who use our coastal waters and with our Search and Rescue partners at both local and national level”.


Rossall Tower is a beacon and destination along the Wyre coastal trail linking Cleveleys and Fleetwood.

Inside Rossall Point Observation Tower there are two viewing platforms for bird watching – providing a fantastic view of the Fylde Coast, the Irish Sea and across Morecambe Bay to the Lakeland fells. 

It replaces the old Coast Guard tower, built in 1948 and Coastwatch’s old HQ.

Coastwatch have been incorporated into the new tower and are operational now that fitting out is complete and the Watchkeepers are fully trained to use the new equipment.

National Coastwatch was formed in 1994 following the death of two fishermen in Cornwall, who perished within sight of a disused Coast Guard observation tower, closed the previous year due to Government public spending cuts. There are now 49 Coastwatch stations around the British coastline, manned entirely by volunteers and funded by public donations.

The Rossall Point Coastwatch group, the only station in the North West of England, started watching for boats in distress and vulnerable people on the sands north of Fleetwood in 2008. There are currently 37 volunteers waiting to return on watch.

Steve Martin, Station Manager at Rossall Point said, ‘’ Whilst a few volunteers left over the 21 months we were out of service, most stuck by Coastwatch, raising funds and training at Fleetwood Nautical College. I can’t thank them enough for their determination to see the job through’’.


Where are they now?

The old Coast Guard tower has been converted into a storeroom and public toilet. This change of use prompted one local resident to contact Coastwatch with a photograph of the old Coast Guard team, taken in the mid ‘70’s.

Jane Holdsworth, now living in Cleveleys, told how her father, Eric James Hoyes, started as the first full time Coast Guard, in 1956. They moved from the isolation of Walney Island to Fleetwood and were joined by a Mr Ferguson, of Fifeness, who took command.

The photo shows the Coast Guards and Auxiliaries in the training room, situated behind the semi detached houses, specially built for the Coast Guards, on Princes Way.

Do you recognise anyone on the photo?
Or maybe you were one of the men pictured? What was the occasion?
If you have any information, let us know. You can email jane@theRabbitPatch.co.uk and we’ll share your story.

Fleetwood Coastguards form 1970s

In the meantime, N.C.I. at Rossall Point, the voluntary organisation keeping a watch on our coastlines, will move into their new premises, part of Wyre Council’s exciting Sea Change project, hopefully in August. Anybody wishing to find out more about the work of Coastwatch, can take a look at their web site www.ncirossallpointfleetwood.co.uk


More about Coastwatch

Voluntary organisations come in all shapes and sizes, providing support when local services aren’t able to meet their needs, mainly through lack of funds. The National Coastwatch Institution is no exception. Set up in 1994, following the closure of local Coast Guard stations, the NCI became the ‘eyes along the coast’ and has currently re opened over 40 stations, manned by volunteers and funded by donations, around our coast line.

The Fylde has the only NCI Station in the North West, situated at Rossall Point, with widespread views across Morecambe Bay. It is notorious for its ever changing sands and fast flowing tides. NCI Rossall Point recently achieved the Deferred Status Facility, which followed a joint exercise with HM Coast Guard and the RNLI. This assessment means they were passed fit to be integrated into the National Search and Rescue organisation.

The NCI Rossall Point is manned 7 days a week, 10 till 6 in Summer and till 4 in Winter. They work closely with HM Coast Guard, their first point of contact in the event of an emergency. Last year, they reported many incidents, including alerting the Coast Guard to a family of seven and a man walking his dog, all cut off from the rising tides.

Training is kindly provided by Fleetwood Nautical College, every Wednesday evening at 7pm and includes radio and radar training, chart work and weather recording.

Volunteers are always welcome, as are donations, towards the running costs of the station.

Being the ‘eyes along our coast’, they keep watch over the many boats that frequent the Bay, as well as locals and visitors to the ever shifting sand banks.

Operations were suspended in September 2011, as the contractors geared themselves up to working on the new tower.

The new tower, yet to receive a name, will have educational facilities and a viewing platform at the top. It will also continue as Coastwatch HQ, the only voluntary lookout in the North West of England.

Additional volunteers will be required by Coastwatch, to ensure the tower is manned every day. A new training course started at the excellent Fleetwood Nautical College in March, covering many skills, including radar and radio communications, as well as chart work.


Find out More

About Rossall Point Coastwatch Tower

About volunteers at NCI Rossall Point

NCI Coastwatch on Twitter @rossallpoint

Coastwatch joint exercise with Fleetwood RNLI and CoastguardCoastwatch joint exercise with Fleetwood RNLI and Coastguard

Coastwatch Tower at Rossall PointNew Coastwatch Tower at Rossall Point

Coastwatch Radar TrainingCoastwatch Radar Training

Coastwatch volunteers at Rossall PointCoastwatch volunteers at Rossall Point in the old tower before demolition

Team of Coastwatch volunteersTeam of Coastwatch volunteers

Watching over the coastWatching over the coast

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