weymouth & portland
the tourist guide

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History...
Weymouth 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...


For your convenience, I have put links to more detailed information held on other web sites. Simply click the underlined words and a window should pop up with more information.

Weymouth

Weymouth 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.

Later 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.

Weymouth 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.

Weymouth 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 Islands.

The 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 are used.

Portland
The 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/


 >> web links

> Wikipedia article on Weymouth
> Wikipedia article on Portland
> Guide to the Isle of Portland


 >> books

For more information on the local history of Weymouth & Portland, why not pick up a book. See a list of them by clicking here


 



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