The National Coastwatch Institution is, I think, not well known. In part this could be because it is a relatively new body, being formed as a charity only in 1994. Like me you might have thought that coastal safety was adequately covered by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency and the RNLI. However, after the Government of the day decreed the retrenchment of the Coastguard, such that only a very small number of coastal stations remained in operation, there was a fatal marine incident off Cornwall, which, had it been noticed earlier, might have saved the 2 lives lost. By 1994 this tragedy had resulted in the creation of something to fill the gap in physical observations - the National Coastwatch Institution.
It is self funded - each station is responsible for finding its own running costs - and the charity receives no money from central Government. Today there are 57 stations dotted around the English and Welsh coasts. Each is manned entirely by volunteers who, after thorough training, maintain a watch from each station during daylight hours throughout the year.
The Exmouth station, which occupies the building that used to be manned by the coastguard, is the second busiest in the country and costs some £6000 to run each year.