A new ‘coast watch’ from Porthcawl’s Old Pilot Tower is being launched this summer

Volunteers will soon be helping to keep the coast of Porthcawl even safer from this revamped lookout station.

The National Coastwatch Institution (NCI) will start new weekend watches from the Old Pilot Lookout Tower this summer.

Coastwatch volunteers were handed the keys to the iconic building this week, after its transfer from Bridgend County Borough Council.

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Trained NCI volunteers will man the tower, initially on weekends only, to help spot danger so that amateur sailors and fishermen can stay safe.

Heritage Lottery Funding, together with contributions from Bridgend County Borough Council, Cadw and the NCI has helped to restore the grade two listed building to its former glory through the Porthcawl Townscape Heritage Initiative.

Trained NCI volunteers will be manning the tower to help spot danger so that amateur sailors and fishermen can stay safe

What have they done to the tower?

The Old Pilot Lookout Tower, built around 150 years ago, has been given replacement windows, doors and roofing and the external staircase has also been renewed.

The NCI has been supported by the local community, and most of the 25 volunteers for the Old Lookout Tower are from Porthcawl.

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Station Manager Phillip Jones said: “We’ll be kitting out the station with a range of equipment to enable us to conduct both offshore and onshore surveillance to help keep users of the coastline safe, and we’ll be reporting back to the Milford Haven Coastguard.

“We’ve been in training now for a while and we’re looking forward to running watches on weekends to begin with, up until 8pm in the evening, and eventually as more watch-keepers become qualified we’ll be operational every day of the year including Christmas Day.”

The Old Pilot Lookout Tower has been given replacement windows, doors and roofing, plus staircase

Why it’s important for Porthcawl

Councillor Charles Smith, Bridgend County Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Economic Development, said: “The restoration of this historic waterfront building complements the exciting work planned for the nearby Jennings Building and Customs House, and is another important step in Porthcawl’s overall regeneration.

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“Not only did we want to restore the Old Pilot Lookout Tower, but we wanted to bring it back into use, so I’m delighted that we have now handed over the building over to the National Coastwatch volunteers so that they can make the necessary preparations ahead of the summer season.”

The National Coastwatch Institution, set up in 1994, operates nearly 50 stations across the UK.

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