first grew up as a port many centuries ago with evidence that Roman
Galleys used to travel up the River Wey. From these humble beginnings
many things have happened in Weymouth & Portland's history...
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was originally two separate towns, Weymouth & Melcombe
Regis. Melcombe Regis is was the bit which the town centre now
occupies. The towns become Weymouth in 1571. Melcombe Regis is thought
to be the place in which the Black
Death Plague came into England during 1348, that went on to
kill almost half the population of the country.
that century the town become to prosper down to the trade in pilgrims
to Spain. In 1588 ships were supplied from Weymouth to help fight
against the Spanish
Armada, relics of which are now displayed in Brewers
Quay. Trade at the time also was built on shipping to the continent,
Mediterranean, West Indies and North America.
is known as the first modern tourist destination, after King
George III visited to holiday fourteen times between 1789 and
1805. This then started a trend in sea bathing that continues today.
There is a large white horse made of stone on the chalk hills to
the west of the town. Legend has it that this angered King George
as it depicts him riding out of the town. He took this as a sign
that he was not wanted.
was heavily used throughout the second world war and played an active
roll in the D-day
landings, where many american forces set sail to the beaches of
Normandy. Weymouth was also the first place for the evacuated residents
of Alderney to be brought to after the Germans invaded the Channel
first commercial ferry services started in 1774. The ferry services
to the Channel
Islands continued under the control of British Rail, including
the new harbour buildings opened in 1980 by Kenneth Clark MP. A
new high speed link to the Channel Islands was founded by Condor
in 1987 by a hydrofoil. As the years went on the business became
more successful until today where large car carrying catamarans
area has been inhabited since the middle stone age. The island is
an ancient Royal
Manor, meaning the island is under the control of the Queen,
with nothing in between her and her tennants. The major users of
land on Portland for many years have been the quarries. After the
Great Fire of London Christopher Wren used six million tons of Portland
Stone to build St
Pauls Cathedral. Many other famous buildings are made of this
stone, including the UN Building in New York and the Whitehall Cenotaph.
Until 1996, it was home to a naval dockyard, but in times after
the cold war it was no longer required. The air station at Portland
closed in 1998, with only a search and rescue helicopter now there.
Whilst it was a naval base, Portland was host to warships from around
the world, including a vast amount of craft that would go towards
Normandy on D-Day. The naval bsae is now under the control of Portland
Port, and is still used for the occasional naval visit. The
air station is now being redeveloped as Osprey
Quay which will be used as a major part of the hosting of the
London 2012 sailing events.
> An excellent resource for information about Portland is Geoff
Kriby's Exploring Portland pages at http://www.geoffkirby.co.uk/Portland/