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Tout Quarry Sculpture Park And West Weares

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68072502LRThe abandoned Tout Quarry stands at the north-west corner of Tophill and is situated between the cliff edge and the road to Weston and Portland Bill.

It is now a sculpture park and is used to display an amazing collection of carvings and artefacts.

Although the sculpture park spreads over this square and the next one to the east, all the sculptures are grouped together here for convenience.

Also on the page are the cliffs of West Weares where these skirt around Tout Quarry and the path at the foot of the cliffs which go to an area known locally as the “Green Hump”.

Please click here for a detailed map. Click the BACK button on your browser to return to this page.

Please click here to visit the satellite image of this area on Google Maps. Click the BACK button on your browser to return to this page.

A map of Tout Quarry with identifications of fifty-four carvings can be downloaded and printed from here.

 

Please use this table to navigate around this page

THE SOUTH-WEST COASTAL PATH AND WEST WEARES

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LICHEN ROCK

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TOUT QUARRY TRAMWAY

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LANO BRIDGE

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TOUT SCULPTURE QUARRY

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NORTH OF TOUT

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WORLD WAR 2 RADIO STATION

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TRAMWAY TUNNEL

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THE SOUTH-WEST COASTAL PATH AND WEST WEARES

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Old quarry spoil tipped over the cliff from Tout Quarry above Fortuneswell - Tout is old English for a 'look out'.

I estimate that over 20 million tonnes of rock have been pushed over the cliffs of Portland. This is five times as much rock as was moved to build the Portland Breakwaters which can just be glimpsed in the distance beyond Fortuneswell.

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Another view of the man-made scree slopes. It is difficult to imagine how much toil by men and horses was used to create these huge slopes.

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This boulder stands near Tout Quarry on the edge of the cliffs. It has the distinction of having on its surface an example of every type of lichen that can be found on Portland.

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Overlooking the sea at West Weares is a stone seat upon which I gaze and relax in my exploration of Portland.

This seat was once smashed up by vandals using sledgehammers. As I have remarked elsewhere on this website, Portland has more than its fair share of well organised vandalism. Its not a simple scrawling of graffiti. Portland’s vandals use seriously large equipment to do their damage.

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The coast of Portland is eroding surprisingly fast for a slab of limestone that seems timeless. A huge length of cliff edge fell away in 1990 and tumbled down to add to the scree slopes created by Victorian quarry workers.

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Another view of the South-West Coastal path where it passes along the spectacular cliffs of West Weares. There are no bridleways on Portland - so it is surprising that there are riding stables. However, this also means that cycling is not legal on the network of footpaths. However, my best friend Sandra need hardly worry as cycling is tolerated and even encouraged as a healthy way of exploring Portland.

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The South-West Coast Path and the scree slopes reaching down to the sea.

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The picture below was taken about 100 years ago from this point.

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There are numerous narrow ravines leading from Tour Quarry to the cliff edge. Tramway lines used to run down these man-made valleys taking stone waste to the be dumped over the cliff or taking block stone to Priory Corner to be transported by the Merchants' Railway to the waiting ships at Castletown. A piece of rail can still be seen crossing the cliff edge path heading for the cliff edge.

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The track of stones upon which the tramway rails were laid into Tout Quarry.

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A close up of one of the tramway sleeper stones..

LANO’S BRIDGE

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Lano's Bridge was built in the mid-1800s to carry a high level tramway taking stone spoil to the cliff edge with a low level tramway going through the arch taking stone to the Merchants' Railway.

In the late 1980s well equipped and determined vandals attempted to demolish this old bridge and almost reached the keystone. Following an appeal for old photographs of the bridge, it was carefully reconstructed with each stone put back in its original place. The above picture shows the bridge after this attack and during reconstruction

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Then in October 2003 another attempt was made to damage the old bridge - this time by loosening stones to the north in the ravine.

Vandalism on Portland is often a well organised activity with tools and even machinery being used to damage and destroy artefacts. Some of this has been carried out by the stone firms who have, over decades, deliberately destroyed features of great historical and geological value such as the wanton destruction of Withies Wall, click here for details and the proposed destruction of one of Portland’s mediaeval windmills.

TOUT QUARRY SCULPTURE PARK

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Overall View of Tout Quarry Sculpture Park.

There is an excellent article on the quarry here.

This imaginative feature started in 1983 and some of the early sculptures are pictured below. Alas, very few of these early efforts survived for more than a year.

 

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“THE COSMIC EGG”

Made by Andrew Logan this is a sculpture made of wood, resin and mirrored glass. This was a spectacular sight high on the northern ramparts of the quarry in the 1980s.

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A metal sculpture of two lifelike human figures. This had been vandalised and removed by the end of the first year on display in 1983.

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A creation from 1983 which survived only for a few months.

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The Persian or Baroque Garden.

An elaborate design in stone and concrete pictured above in 1989. This survived for many years and is shown below in March 2008.

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“Philosopher's Stone” by Robert Harding

Photographed in 1990, this structure is still intact. I suspect because it is partially hidden behind large boulders.

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Above and below are two sculptures from the 1980s which did not survive long.

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Above and below are two views of a sculpture “Stone of the Summer Solstice” by Roger Davies. The pinnacle was originally topped by a stone 'egg' but this soon fell off and now lies at the foot of the rock pile as seen below.

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Above is the “Egg” that sat on top of the pillar. Good job nobody was standing beneath it!

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A dramatic view of Weymouth through an arch which in 2015 was almost totally destroyed as below.

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The art of rock painting - from 1983. An abstract sculpture stood on the hill but this has long since gone.

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A stone helicopter (“Wessex” by Andrews Kirkby) was set into a pile of quarry waste overlooking Fortuneswell as pictured in 1990. Enough remained in 2003 to be able to make out the outline of this aircraft. Plans were put forward in 2008 to renew this feature but this never happened.

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A ship - possibly a Viking ship - made from concrete and railway sleepers.

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A superbly carved fireplace and seat and clock. Unfortunately, some fools have lit fires in the grate and damaged this masterpiece.

Timothy Shutter, creator of "Hearth", commented in 1989: "The sculpture provides an incongruous corner of domestic comfort within the exposed setting of the quarry; the fire surround refers back to a time when the quarry was being actively worked, functioning as a memorial to the lives and skills of a generation of Portlanders."

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Antony Gormley was the first artist to work in the quarry in 1983, when he created the carving "Still Falling".

This is a life-size figure incised into the rock face on a remaining island of un-quarried rock. The figure was purposely distanced from the viewer by the depth of the quarried space below.

Gormley commented in 1983: "The quarry itself is a powerful inspiration and tribute to the small bands of men that worked it, using blocks and wedges as well as natural layering and fissuring to cut the stone. Their technique (using neither complex machinery nor explosives) was a mixture of science, intuition and hard team work that is a model for us all... Working with stone is a fine job. Working on stone in a quarry is a challenge. You have to consider the material as a part of the place; as part of the earth."

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A block of rock with a circular saw blade embedded in it - symbolic of Portland's stone cutting industry.

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An early carving that has survived to the present.

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“Fallen Fossil” by Stephen Marsden *

Stephen Marsden, creator of the "Fallen Fossil" carving, commented in 1985: "The piece resembles a fossil only vaguely, it is more a symbolic architectural statement which implies a positive column form with flower-like capital having originated from a wall or face of living stone. The positive image lies on the ground in three fragments. In the light in which the two elements, vertical and horizontal, share a partnership, the grounded and fragmented column might be seen as the more passive element, the vertical more assertive."

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Please click here for more details of stone carving lessons at Tout Quarry

AREA TO THE NORTH OF TOUT QUARRY

The northern part of Tout Quarry is high ground on which many sculptures were erected in the 1980s. However, only one structure now exists which is a line of standing stones aligned approximately towards Weymouth in the distance.

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The standing stones photographed in the 1990s.

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Sunset on the top of Tout Quarry.

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A rainbow gently kisses the earthen ramparts of The Verne Prison - but was there a crock of gold to be discovered by the prisoners?

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The row of stones was still standing on the skyline in 2015.

THE WORLD WAR 2 RADIO STATION

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During World War 2 buildings and aerials were erected on this high point as part of the  World War II Coastal Defence/Chain Home Low (CD/CHL) radar station. The station, named site M73, was constructed by the Army to monitor shipping and aircraft during the war - please click here for further details. There are still concrete steps leading to the summit and there are foundations of the buildings as shown above.

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Nearby is the entrance of a Victorian tramway tunnel which was bricked up in 1944. A stone existed as shown above mounted in the wartime brickwork. This read "E. C. Gillingham. May 26th 1944". Recently this brickwork was destroyed to enable the tunnel to be reopened for walkers.

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The wartime buildings were demolished and the rubble thrown into a nearby ravine as seen above in 2015.

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Cables which once supplied power to the military buildings above Tout Quarry.

REOPENING A TRAMWAY TUNNEL

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There were three tunnels passing from Tout Quarry to Inmosthay Quarry to the east. These passed under Wide Street. There were used by tramways to transport stone from Inmosthay into Tout Quarry and onwards to the West Cliff tramway which ran around to Priory Corner and the top of the Merchants’ Railway.

All three tunnels were blocked.

However, in 2003 the World War 2 brickwork blocking the main northernmost tunnel was smashed by vandals. This gave me the opportunity to get into the tunnel and take the picture below. Notice how the interior of the tunnel appeared to be constructed from carefully cut stones and no mortar.

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In 2010 it was decided to unblock this tunnel to provide a pedestrian walkway under the main road.

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This involved demolishing the brick walls at each end and rebuilding the eastern entrance retaining wall to make the tunnel safe to use. The picture below shows the tunnel in use.

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Below we see the heavily overgrown and blocked entrances to the other two tunnels from Tout Quarry.

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Inside one of the two remaining blocked tunnels.

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Keywords Tout Quarry Sculpture Park And Surrounding Area Portland Dorset