Older generations remember when Coastguard Stations were dotted around the British Coasts at harbours and hazardous locations. Thirty years ago there were 43 of them plus lightships and lighthouses, all manned. Now all have gone, victims of financial cuts and technological advances. But in its new locations, although aided by automation and digital means, the Coastguard is largely denied the visual sightings that so often warn of danger and save lives.
It was to fill this gap ’Vital Eyes’ the Coastwatch Service was born, committed to revitalising the old stations where possible and to creating new ones where funds were available.
Winterton Coastwatch is part of a Coastwatch Unit – The Sea Safety Group – which has five stations on the East Anglian Coast. All are supported entirely by public donation, which came to the rescue of the Coastguard Station, a Winterton landmark for generations, when it fell victim to erosion. The battle to raise funds for replacement took three years. Many gave not only cash but also services and materials free of cost. The new station opened in January 2007, a tribute to the kindness and expertise of many who contributed to such a splendid effort. There is more to the Coastwatch story than vital responses to those in peril. Winterton dunes and beach form a site of ‘Special Scientific Interest’, so named by the Natural England Organisation. Coastwatch is involved in helping to preserve this Mecca for visitors interested in wildlife by combating pollution and protecting flora, fauna and wildlife. Terror and immigration concerns also fall within Coastwatch attention. Every craft from small yacht to large container vessel is logged as it passes through each station survey area. Our logging of suspected vessels immediately triggers reaction from the Coastguard awareness system. All 365 days of the year Winterton Coastwatch Station is manned by expert Volunteer Watchkeepers ready to respond to dangers and difficulties on sea or shore. Apart from tackling customary day to day cases of visitors in need of help they recently contributed to saving the lives of four people. Apart from occupying a special place in the hearts of so many, Winterton has a fascinating history. Few knew just how fascinating until the lower unit of the new Coastwatch Station was converted to house a display that has attracted locals and visitors alike. It already contains and abundance of exhibits, photographs of a Stone Age axe head dug up on the beach, ammunition from the Napoleonic and two world wars and a wide range of other subjects. The displays record remarkable events that have taken place in the area over the centuries. Our archive now contains more than 300 enlarged and laminated images plus other documents. These are regularly rotated to keep the display fresh. The Centre, subject to circumstances, is open to visitors from Easter onwards.
Station Telephone 01493 393989 Winterton Norfolk
WELCOME TO WINTERTON
TEL: 01493 393989