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Portland Castle, The Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy and Portland Hospital

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Much of this area was reclaimed from swampy land known as ‘The Mere’ where Portland shepherds bought their sheep to be washed and dipped.

‘The Mere’ was filled in to become the base for the Royal Naval Air Station. The Royal Navy pulled out of the dockyard in the mid-1990s and by 2002 the air station had become the home of the ‘Whiskey Bravo’ Search and Rescue helicopter.

On the coast of Portland Harbour and on the right-hand edge of the map is Portland Castle which was built by King Henry VIII to defend the South Dorset coastline along with Sandsfoot Castle in Weymouth.

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.

Please click here to explore this area on Google Street View. Click the BACK button on your browser to return to this page.

Please click here for an old map showing ‘The Mere’. Click the BACK button on your browser to return to this page.

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GENERAL VIEWS

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THE MERE AND STORAGE TANKS [1]

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THE WEYMOUTH AND PORTLAND NATIONAL SAILING ACADEMY [2]

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HARBOUR LIGHTS RESTAURANT [3]

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THE BOAT THAT ROCKS RESTAURANT [3]

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MARK 8 TORPEDO [3]

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AN ENORMOUS PIECE OF DRIFTWOOD [3]

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THE HMS ILLUSTRIOUS TRAGEDY [3]

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EX-ROYAL NAVAL HELICOPTER BASE [4]

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ISLE OF PORTLAND ALDRIDGE COMMUNITY ACADEMY [5]

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PORTLAND CASTLE [6]

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PORTLAND HOSPITAL [7]

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OLD RAILWAY BRIDGE [8]

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ANOTHER OF MY HOBBIES

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GENERAL VIEWS

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The above view taken in July 2003 shows this area before all the oil storage tanks had been removed and work was yet to start on the Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy.

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This view was taken in July 2008 after the oil tanks had been demolished and work was underway on the Sailing Academy. This was the first of the 2012 Olympic venues to be completed.

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THE MERE [1]

This whole area was once a vast tidal area; a mixture of mud and stones much as Hamm Beach to the north remains.

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The above two pictures show sheep being washed in ‘The Mere’. The area was drained and infilled to build oil storage tanks which were a familiar sight until recent years and to provide a base for the Royal Navy helicopters.

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This long presence by military helicopters is commemorated by a Lynx machine on display within the Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy.

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THE WEYMOUTH AND PORTLAND NATIONAL SAILING ACADEMY [2]

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These excellent new buildings are the Weymouth and Portland Sailing Academy. This were the base for the 2012 Olympic Sailing Events.

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One of several wind turbines on the site. The construction of the Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy included all manner of energy saving devices and generating equipment. However, it surprises me that on windy days some of the turbines are not rotating. One collapsed into a car-park narrowly avoiding serious damage to vehicles - please click here.

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THE BOAT THAT ROCKS RESTAURANT [3]

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One commercial venture was 'The Boat That Rocks' restaurant named after the disappointing film of that name which was filmed partly in and around Weymouth - please click here.

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A new venture opened in March 2014 under the name ‘Harbour Lights’. However this has reopened as the ‘Boat That Rocks’ .

THE MARK 8 TORPEDO [3]

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The Mark 8 torpedo was of a type designed in the late 1920s and extensively fired from Royal Navy submarines in World War 2. The last ones to be fired in anger were used in 1982 to sink the Argentinian warship 'General Belgrano'. This was despite HMS/M Conqueror having the much more modern homing TIGERFISH torpedoes also available. Details of these type of torpedoes can be found here.

The long in-service life of these Mark 8 torpedoes (seven decades) was because they were very reliable and effective against shipping albeit from relatively short ranges of up to 5 kilometres.

Another factor was the poor performance and unreliability of the more complicated acoustic homing torpedoes.

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There is an information board by this torpedo with much interesting information.

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AN ENORMOUS PIECE OF DRIFTWOOD

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This huge lump of wood which was recovered from the sea has been mounted in a prominent position to show the hazards to sailing that might be floating locally.

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THE HMS ILLUSTRIOUS TRAGEDY [3]

A display panel nearby relates the terrible tragedy of the sinking of a boat in Portland Harbour in 1948 with the loss of 29 young sailors.

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This memorial stone lists the names and ages of the sailors who were drowned. Their average age was 19 years.

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THE HELICOPTER BASE

Please click here for a comprehensive history of the Royal Naval Air Station at Portland.

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The main helicopter control building when operational (above) and below as still standing in 2015 (below).

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The ‘Urban Explorers’ have been in and photographed this building. Please click here to visit the website.

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Below we see the Search and Rescue helicopter which occupied the site after the departure of the Royal Navy in the mid-1990s.

Ashley Smith has written an excellent history of the Search and Rescue operations at this site - please click here.

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On June 30th 2017 the site was closed down. This sad event was marked by a ceremonial unveiling of a monumental stone - please click here for this story.

The following day a diver got into serious problems and had to wait 90 minutes for a helicopter to fly all the way from Wales - please click here for this story.

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Isle of Portland Aldridge Community Academy (IPACA) [6]

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To the north of the Officers’ Fields housing development a new school has been built. This picture shows it being constructed in 2012. This is a component of the ambitious plan to bring all Portland’s schools together under one administrative umbrella - please click here for details.

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This shows the school fully open in April 2015.

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PORTLAND CASTLE [6]

There are excellent and detailed articles about Portland Castle here and here. The latter link has many excellent photographs. The official website can be found here.

My pictures were mostly taken between the late 1980s and 2010.

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English Heritage organises many interesting summer events such as the one photographed above.

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From Portland Castle ramparts a small beach can be seen from which motor boat trips to and from Weymouth can be taken in the Summer.

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I produced this panorama by stitching three photographs together. This explains why we see the same gentleman three times - it was not triplets out for a stroll!

This enjoyable walking/cycling track connects Portland Castle to the Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy

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PORTLAND NHS HOSPITAL [7]

Once there were two large hospitals on Portland. One was the Royal Naval Hospital which was close to Castletown and whose buildings straddled the Merchant’s Railway. The other was the civilian hospital which still exists not far from Portland Castle.

Here is described the NHS Hospital.

The demolished Royal Naval Hospital is described elsewhere on this website - please click here.

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This building was the gatehouse to the former Royal Navy Hospital. The postbox mounted in the wall is one of only two Victorian postboxes on Portland; the other being in Wakeham.

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The main NHS Hospital buildings.

The site of the eastern part of the Royal Navy Hospital stood where the currently abandoned naval accommodation block can be seen in the centre of this photograph.

Just outside the right-hand edge of the above photograph is the abandoned underground hospital. This was actually built at ground level but was covered over with a blast-proof covering of earth.

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This is the entrance to the Underground Hospital which has been secured with a steel gate since 1996 after it had been opened for a day of public viewing.

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A panoramic view of the Underground Hospital. The following photographs were kindly provided by an anonymous self-styled ‘Kimberlin’. These pictures are copyright and must not be copied.

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There are more pictures of the underground hospital to be seen here.

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OLD RAILWAY BRIDGE [8]

The path of the old railway line from Weymouth to Easton ran under the road at the point shown in the picture below. The steel bridge still survives but the track has totally disappeared. A last sign used to be the oil pipes running on the route of the track as show below in this 2005 picture but these have also now gone.

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There is almost no evidence of the main railway line from Weymouth to Easton where it passed through Castletown - except for this steel bridge carrying the main road.

The picture below shows where the railway used to run under the main road. This area is now a car-park for nearby flats.

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Please click here to see a large scale map of this area from the years when the railway flourished.

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ANOTHER OF MY HOBBIES

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In 2014 at the age of 75 I started a new hobby - writing books. These are available as paperbacks and free ebooks. 

Please click here for details. All have been very well received; so far gathering all ‘five star’ reviews apart from one ‘four star’ review.

I also have many other websites covering a wide range of interesting topics. These can be visited by clicking here.

 

 

Keywords Chesil Beach The Mere Portland Castle Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy Portland Dorset