WITH a panoramic view spanning 270 degrees across to the Isle of Wight, it would make the perfect part-time hobby for sea-lovers.

Derelict for more than 20 years, a Hampshire watch tower is being restored to its former glory thanks to the National Coastwatch Institution (NCI).

The maritime charity is hoping to find around 60 volunteers to man Calshot tower 365 days a year during daylight hours.

Towering above Calshot Castle and dwarfing the activity centre below, watchmen and women would report any boats in danger to the Maritime and Coastguard Agency.

Volunteers would also have to be fit enough to tackle the 100-step footladder to the control room.

The NCI also hopes to find fundraisers and sponsors to help pay for the tower, which costs between £3,000 and £4,000 a year to run.

The maritime charity has already spent £3,000 to ensure people can scale the steps and use the tower, which was built in 1973.

The NCI already operates 41 stations across England and Wales, with Calshot Tower the latest addition.

Senior watchman for the NCI, Phil Bridges, said: “Our primary aim is to keep watch over all craft, to identify those that might be in distress. We also log major shipping and keep a radio watch on popular marine channels.

“I spent last summer working at the Lee-on-the- Solent lookout, which is fantastic. I couldn’t think of a better way of spending a summer’s day.”

No formal maritime experience is required to work at the tower, as full training will be provided by the NCI. The maritime charity is holding a public meeting at the Waterside Sports and Social Club, in Long Lane, Holbury, on Tuesday, January 26 at 7pm for volunteers.

Calshot Tower Facts

■ The watch tower is 130ft tall (around 39 metres), just short of the Southampton Civic Centre clock tower, which is 47.5 metres.

■ There are 100 yellow steps to climb with a steep incline to reach the top of the tower.

■ On a clear day, views stretch across to Cowes and Yarmouth on the Isle of Wight, as well as Portsmouth’s Spinnaker Tower.

■ The watchroom has a 270-degree panoramic view into the Solent, with Fawley oil refinery at one end and the Isle of Wight at the other.

■ Built in 1973 the tower was closed down in the early 90s due to cuts in funding.

■ The tower sits on Hampshire County Council land and is owned by the Crown Estate. It is leased to ABP ports, who use the radar on top of the tower.