Since Roman times structures have watched over England’s shore and coastal waters to prevent smuggling, to co-ordinate assistance to ships in distress and as part of defensive facilities. Since 1822 many sites have been operated by Her Majesty’s Coastguard. In the 1920s life-saving became its primary role, along with coastal observation.
Until the late 20th century the basic elements of a Coastguard station usually consisted of living accommodation, a watch room or house, boathouse and equipment store, sometimes supplemented by subsidiary lookouts or watch towers. There has been a considerable architectural variety although a degree of standardisation seems to have taken place from the turn of the 20th century when the number of stations peaked.
This short guide provides an introduction to the history and development of coastguard stations in England. It is intended to support the listing selection guide on Maritime and Naval buildings.