New lookout to be built at popular Norfolk beach

The existing Coastwatch station in Wells. Picture: Ian Burt

The existing Coastwatch station in Wells. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: Ian Burt

One of Norfolk’s most popular beaches is set to get a new £40,000 Coastwatch lookout station to replace its existing building, which is about 70 years old.

National Coastwatch Institution volunteers at Wells-next-the-Sea are now hoping to complete the fundraising they need to move ahead with the project.

The Coastwatch had originally hoped to build a larger replacement building - costing around £100,000 - but scaled back their plans after considering the costs involved, and the new design has just been approved by North Norfolk District Council.

John Tookey, station manager, said a new structure was badly needed as the timber in the current building was rotting away.

Mr Tookey said: “The old one used to be a Coastguard station, but it closed down when a lot of the Coastguard stations closed across the country.

“It then stood idle for about 15 years and then 25 years ago the National Coastwatch Institution started and we opened up there at Wells.”

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The existing station will be demolished and the new one built in the same spot, at the main entrance to the beach at the end of Beach Road.

But Mr Tookey said they would not be able to start building until the funding was in place, which could take another year.

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He said: “We’ll build on the same footprint, and we can use the same base.

“That will be a huge cost saving as we won’t have to do any pile driving.”

Mr Tookey said the station was a “valuable asset to the community” and was there to protect people on the beach, in the water and vessels out at sea, 365 days a year.

He said: “We’re here to watch out for anything that moves. Over the summer one of our biggest tasks is finding lost children.

“At the moment it’s not as busy as it usually is, but it hasn’t been beach weather.

“During the last lockdown we had to close, but this time around we’ve been designated as key workers, along with the RNLI and the Coastguard, so we have stayed open.”

The station will sit next to the Wells’ new RNLI lifeboat house, which is currently under construction and will house a state-of-the-art Shannon Class lifeboat.

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