A community effort is raising funds to repair and restore the historic landmark Watch House at Cullercoats.
Built in 1879, it was originally a lookout for the Cullercoats fishing community and a base for the Life Brigade, who would rescue anyone in danger at sea.
It’s now urgently in need of restoration work totalling around £350,000. Just over £123,000 has been raised so far, and the Watch House’s team of trustees are seeking further funding to reach the total.
Exposed to the North Sea on a clifftop above Cullercoats Harbour, the Grade II listed building has suffered badly over the years. Serious wood rot, eroded stonework and structural damage all need to be fixed.
Inside the Watch House there are plans to improve the existing community space and heritage hub.
Architects Ainsworth Spark Associates have drawn up plans to renovate and restore the building’s original features, reopen boarded-up windows and uncover a vaulted ceiling.
Underfloor heating, disabled access including accessible toilets, and an outside events space will also be added.
Chairman of Cullercoats Watch House Trustees Frank Taylor said: “There’s been a fantastic community response so far, but the campaign to restore and renovate the building still has some way to go.
“We need to find more funding to hit our target, and we’d love to hear from any potential volunteers with a background in IT, finance and marketing who can join the team and help us secure it.
“We want to create a Watch House for all, a place for local people and visitors to come to learn about the history of Cullercoats, its fishing, its renowned artists and its heroic Life Brigade.
“This is an incredible building and we’re already putting on a packed schedule of community events including energy bills advice sessions, night classes, knit and natter, yoga and meditation, sea shanty nights, music performances and a rockpool school.
“There’s also a very popular Monday daytime Warm Welcome open house event with free hot drinks, soup and snacks, so please pop in and see us.”