National Coastwatch


National Coastwatch


The History of the Island Lookout


Situated on the north side of the town of St Ives, the Island promontory is an exposed headland with virtually uninterrupted views across the St Ives Bay. From here one can see the western approaches to St Ives, beyond Clodgy point and as far north as Trevose Head, near Padstow, some 26 miles away. Named originally, ‘Pendinas’ — the fortified headland, for centuries it has played an important role in local defence.

Lamp Rock

At the north east end of the promontory is Lamp Rock, the current site of the NCI Station. Its name is derived from there having been a tall pole, fitted with a lantern. This was an aid to local seamen, sailing at night into Porthgwidden Cove, adjacent to the east of the Island — then the main landing place for St Ives.


There are parish records of the site being fortified in 1638. It was stated that at one time up to 15 guns were present. The granite battery walls to the south of the lookout were erected in 1860 against a possible French invasion by Napoleon III. These fortifications show clear evidence of three large cannon positions together with armouries. The cottage to the south was originally the barracks.


The guns were dismantled in 1895 and shortly after, St Nicholas Chapel, to the south west of the Station which had been used as a store, was demolished. Later it was rebuilt and opened in 1911.

Coastguard and NCI

HM Coastguard built and operated an enclosed lookout station within the battery until 1994 when government authorities decided that many local watch stations should close. The NCI St Ives was formed in 1999 as a voluntary organisation and now leases the site from the local council. With public support we maintain, equip and operate the Station in order to safeguard the lives of sea and coastal users.


In 2012 we refurbished our Station. Click here to read about the refurbishment and see pictures of the new interior.

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© NCI St Ives 2013 -2024

The National Coastwatch Institution is a charity registered to save lives around our coast — No. 1159975