In the first of our new series of interviews with Bridgend County's Coastal Heroes, we speak to Porthcawl Harbourmaster Sean Warrington about his job and how he's seen the coastline develop over the past five years.
What is your job role and how did you start?
I'm the Harbourmaster based in Porthcawl, which means that I am responsible for managing the day-to-day operations at Porthcawl harbour, as well as managing lifeguard provisions and Blue Flag compliance for our harbour and beaches. We currently have two Blue Flag beaches here in Bridgend County - Rest Bay and Trecco Bay.
I started in the role in 2013, which means I'm coming up for five years. I'm originally from West Wales, where my father ran a marina and where I started working through the summer at the age of 16. I moved to Cardiff to study at university but moved back afterwards to take up the role as a Haven Master in a marina. I then back to Cardiff and started as a Berthing Master at Penarth Marina where I worked for two to three years before moving to my current role in Bridgend County.
What does an average day look like for you?
It really depends on the season. During the warmer months I spend a lot of time at the marina, making sure that all the boats are safe and secure, and that the site is clean and tidy for visitors and tenants of the Harbourside.
I also help oversee the provision of lifeguards across Bridgend County's beaches. Along with the Beach & Water Safety Officer we have access to a team of over 40 part-time lifeguards dedicated to making our beaches safe. We're finding that Rest Bay is becoming more and more popular with visitors, which isn't surprising when you consider that it is the closest surf beach to Cardiff, London and many towns and cities in between. Bridgend County is very lucky to have such great natural resources on the doorstep and it is essential that families and beach users feel safe when visiting.
How have you seen the local coastline develop?
The coastline has developed massively in five years. When I first joined, in 2013, it was my job to oversee the final stage of the harbour's transition into a small marina. The harbour originally only had swing moorings accommodating around 20-25 boats. Turning it into a small marina involved the installation of a floating pontoon system accommodating up to 70 boats. Up until 2013 visiting vessels had nowhere to berth safely but the marina now regularly accommodates guests from North Devon, Bristol, Pembrokeshire and Cardiff who visit the area to go out for a meal, check out the local bars, visit the beaches and walk the coastal path. Many of which return every year.
The introduction of the marina has been a catalyst for redevelopment in the area, seen most recently with the unveiling of the new Jennings Building. The harbourside now offers more for the community and there's no doubt footfall to the area has increased as a result. It has become very popular with families and those looking for a relaxed evening stroll.
There's a lot of exciting activity in Porthcawl at the moment - there are new developments from Porthcawl Harbourside CIC and a refurbishment of the harbour kiosk. There's also plans for a Rest Bay Watersports Centre with changing areas and a teaching area for local surf schools.
What are your favourite coastal activities?
I think the area has some really great coastal walks. I like to park near Kenfig Nature Reserve and walk across to Rest Bay via Sker Point at the south end of Kenfig Sands. This also offers the chance to pop into the historic Prince of Wales pub in Kenfig. I also like the route along the dunes from Newton towards the mouth of the Ogmore River.