A STATE of the art addition to the Fleetwood skyline is now open to provide everything from stunning coastal views to a home for rescuers.
Rossall Point Observation Tower is part of Wyre Council’s £2.1m Sea Change regeneration programme and rises above the Rossall sand dunes.
Designed to look like it is leaning into the wind, the tower has something for everyone and was constructed by the Fylde coast-based Parkinsons.
A gallery of materials based on the coastal environment is situated on the ground floor, bird watchers have their own space on the first floor and the National Coastwatch Institution will shortly move into their re-built home on the second floor after the smaller tower was declared no longer fit for purpose in September 2011.
The top level is an open observation deck which provides views over to the Lakeland fells and out across Morecambe Bay and the Irish Sea.
For those unable to make the climb, there is a camera on the top deck projecting images of the view onto a screen on the ground floor.
Coun Peter Gibson, leader of Wyre Council, was joined by the mayor and mayoress of Wyre – Coun Don Lawrenson and Vera Lawrenson – competition winners and school children during the big opening.
Coun Gibson said: “This is further good news for Fleetwood.
“This new building will now provide better facilities for the Coastwatch team, who do such good work ensuring people out on the beach or just off the coast are safe.
“It will also be an excellent tourist destination.
“For visitors coming from Cleveleys or walking from the revamped Marine Gardens, this will be an iconic building they can visit and enjoy along the way.
“It is another part of the Sea Change scheme which enhances the seafront for visitors and residents alike.”
Fleetwood Town council member, Coun Terry Rogers, hailed the building’s modern design.
He said: “I think its very contemporary, it brings the old and new of Fleetwood together.
“Fleetwood was a very modern concept when it was built – one of the country’s first purpose-built towns, designed to a plan.
“This tower is modern too, but totally sympathetic with its coastal surroundings.
“It needed to be a forward-thinking design for the 21st century, and that is what we’ve got. I think it’s a fantastic asset for this town.”
Members of the Coastwatch team, the trained volunteers who will be using it to monitor the coast, hope their state-of the art equipment will be moved in and ready to use by Easter.
Steve Martin, station manager for Fleetwood’s National Coastwatch Institution, said: “It is certainly a big improvement on what we had here before.
“It is higher and has superior panoramic views, which is essential for the work we will be doing.
“It also has running water, toilet facilities and easy access.
“The basic conditions we had before, actually lost us members, particularly women, so this will help us with recruitment and ensure we don’t lose volunteers.
“It’s a wonderful building and we’re delighted with it.”
Among those attending the big opening were pupils from St Mary’s Catholic Primary School in Fleetwood.
The youngsters have been working with the Wyre coastal and countryside rangers on a strandline survey to help gather data about creatures living in the sea.
The rangers will be working closely with schools from their base at the new tower.
Holly Egan, aged eight, said: “It looks quite posh – but I like it.”