Works mean watch stops

Trainee Watchkeeper Ken Harcombe (right) and Watchkeeper Peter Wood at work in the observation tower

Trainee Watchkeeper Ken Harcombe (right) and Watchkeeper Peter Wood at work in the observation tower

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VOLUNTEERS who act as the eyes of the Fylde coast have been forced to suspend their watches for five months to make way for regeneration works.

Members of the National Coastwatch Institute (NCI) logged off watch at Rossall Point yesterday to allow work to start on a new tower, as part of Wyre’s £1.6m Sea Change programme.

The volunteers, who have been forced to vacate the premises while the tower is transformed into a world class observation centre, today warned members of the public to take extra care on the coast during their absence.

Ken Harcombe, watch keeper at Rossall Point, said: “Unfortunately it’s unavoidable while the work takes place. We urge people to take care.

“But it’s happening at the right time of year, during winter when it’s not the busiest period. We don’t get many visitors wandering about the sands.

“It’s going to be a lot more comfortable in the new centre – we’ll have a stunning new tower with proper steps and running water.”

Around 34 volunteers share daily shifts between 10am and 6pm to keep an eye on the sands in front of Fleetwood, out to sea towards the Isle of Man and towards Barrow and Heysham.

Jane Littlewood, chairman of Rossall Beach and Community Group, said: “I’d like to stress that people need to be vigilant and be careful.

“You see people standing on the sand banks and it’s quite stressful. People come on holiday and they are not used to the beach. The tide starts coming in around the back of them without them realising and then they’re stranded.”

The current tower, an old Coast Guard station, which was built in the late 1940s, will be part-demolished and replaced with several viewing platforms open to the public, an education centre on the ground floor where views from the top will be projected on to screens and a new home for the NCI volunteers.

Steve Martin, the Coastwatch station manager at Rossall Point, said: “We’ll be starting a new training programme, at Fleetwood Nautical College. If anyone wants to be part of this exciting new chapter then contact us through www.ncirossallpointfleetwood.co.uk”