On the 3rd of June 2008, the doors of the lookout station opened for the first official
watch of NCI Shoreham. 15 years later, the volunteer team of over 70 watchkeepers
is inviting the public to an open day celebrating the anniversary.
Situated on the western side of the harbour mouth, the station has been involved in
countless incidents since opening, working with the HM Coastguard, RNLI, police,
ambulance service and Border Force.
The open day will be supported by HM Coastguard Shoreham, Lagoon Watersports,
and the sea shanty group Secret Shore Singers.
NCI Shoreham is part of an ever-growing group of lookout stations around the
English and Welsh coastline. Formed in 1994, the National Coastwatch Institution
(NCI) is currently the Eyes Along The Coast at almost 60 locations.
The role of the NCI lookouts is to provide a shore-based visual watch around the
coast for anyone in distress. As well the use of VHF radios, the different stations can
be supported with the use of radar, AIS and CCTV cameras.
If anyone is seen or heard to be in distress, the watchkeepers are trained to inform
HM Coastguard with accurate information on the details and location. The
Coastguard will then take the decision on what assets (RNLI/Helicopter/Coastguard
Rescue Teams etc) to deploy.
HM Coastguard can also call on us to get eyes on a possible incident providing them
with accurate information, local knowledge, and current weather conditions. A
logbook is also kept of all vessel movements and notable events, which can be
reviewed if requested.
The idea of the station at Shoreham first arose in 2007. With the assistance of
neighbouring NCI Newhaven, which was founded a few years earlier, recruitment for
watchkeepers began out of the back of a trustee’s car opposite Carats Café on
A search was commenced for a usable building to host the newly forming station.
Shoreham Port kindly offered the use of the building situated on the western side of
the harbour mouth.
The building which has now housed Shoreham NCI for the past 15 years was a
derelict WW2 Coastal Artillery Searchlight (CASL) building. This formed part of the
emergency coastal battery at neighbouring Shoreham Fort. The brick and concrete
building was home to a searchlight which was used for illuminating enemy ships
during the night, to allow for the 2 large guns at Shoreham Fort to get accurate aim.
After the war, the building fell into disuse until the late 1950s when the building
appeared briefly in the movie Battle of the V1 as a German lookout. The movie was
filmed during the reconstruction of the harbour entrance, where the building was to
become home to the electrical fuse board for the harbour lights on the western side
of the new harbour breakwater.
The keys to the building were handed over to the NCI in February 2008 by
Shoreham Port Authority. Renovation of the dilapidated structure then began in
earnest shortly afterward. Whilst the works were on going, training of the newly
recruited volunteers continued by Carats Café.
On the morning of the 3rd of June, with the renovation works finally completed, the
first watch climbed the newly constructed external stairs to undertake the first watch.
Observed by three other watchkeepers, the first watch proved successful with
watches taking place from 9am to 5pm every Saturday and Sunday.
The station now opens every single day of the year. Opening hours are 8am to 8pm
in the summer, and 8am to 5pm in the winter.
The volunteer watchkeepers come from a range of backgrounds and all ages. No
experience is necessary as all training is provided.
At present, the station is currently fundraising for a new remote control CCTV
camera to be installed at a height above the station. This will improve the view of
some of the station’s current blind spots, with x45 magnification capabilities of the
proposed camera, it will become a very useful tool.
The public will be able to buy raffle tickets during the Open Day, with the proceeds
going towards the camera. The draw will be happening at the close of the day.
Prizes include an overnight stay on a Shoreham houseboat, various restaurant
vouchers, day gym passes, SUP session at Hove Lagoon and more!