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Fields South of Southwell Village

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68569502LRAn unremarkable area of Portland - which is a polite way of saying it's rather BORING!

The main features are the road leaving Southwell Village going to Portland Bill and the sewerage pumping station built in the late 1980s on the seaward side of the road.

Two quarries exist. The large and obvious one is located on the right-hand edge of the red square and can be explored from the coastal path. The other is a 'secret' quarry at the back of the Eight Kings pub - this is the green patch near the top centre of the red square.

The Portland Stone Company is attempting to get authority to open up the huge area between the road to Portland Bill and the cliffs for quarrying stone. This is causing huge controversy as it will destroy the area and will mean as many as 1,600 lorries passing through Southwell Village every day. Please read more below.

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Looking from the centre of this area north towards Southwell Village.



The entire area seen in this sweeping panorama on the opposite side of the road could be dug out and the stone removed under plans being proposed as this is written in February 2015.

After World War 2 some industries were given effectively unlimited powers to dig stone out of Portland as part of the urgent rebuilding of war damaged Britain. The permissions granted were Draconian and in later decades the stone companies ran amok on Portland destroying Sites Of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs) without having to obtain permission, threatening to destroy one of the two Mediaeval windmills to access the stone beneath it and destroying Withies Wall on the east of Portland - a site of International Geological Interest in 1989 - for no better reason than to enlarge a track for lorries to use.


Above - Withies Wall - a Site of International Geological Interest before its gratuitous destruction and - below - what was left a few months later.


In the 1990s these powers to rampage and destroy Portland’s history were greatly curbed and companies were made subject to planning laws.

However, planning permission had been granted to rip out the ‘Coastal Strip’ west and south of Southwell in the ‘bad old days’ of 1951 and it is this permission that is being revived to ravage this area and raise the terrible prospect of over 1,600 lorries passing through the ancient Southwell village lanes every day.

The council planners are stuck because Portland Stone Firms have threatened to sue for ‘millions’ if the 1951 permissions are revoked.

Democracy is in a ‘no win’ situation - see here.

I suggest you explore and enjoy this area between the Portland Bill road and the eastern cliffs before it is destroyed in the obsessive pursuit of profit.



In a field a little south of Southwell there were, in October 2003, a flock of Portland Sheep. Please click here for information on the breed of Portland sheep.

BBC TV Countryfile presenter Adam Henson visited Portland Sheep breeder Su Illsley on Portland in the programme broadcast in 2010 - see details here.

King George III rated Portland Mutton the best in the world and enjoyed eating it at the Royal Portland Arms in Fortuneswell.


The construction in the late 1980s of the sewerage pumping station a short distance to the south-east of ‘The Eight Kings’ pub was a huge undertaking with most of the works below ground level as seen below.



It is difficult now to recognise how much is hidden underground - see the picture below taken in 2007.


The modern system gathers sewerage from all over Portland and sends it by pipeline to Wyke Regis where it is treated and discharged into Lyme Bay. The gathering station shown above at Southwell sends the sewerage into a large pipe which mainly follows the track of the old railway to Portland Port. From there it is gathered at the sewerage pumping station in Victoria Square - seen below - and then the whole lot goes to the mainland.


Where Portland’s sewerage gathers before sending to the mainland.

Accepting Portland's sewage is perhaps a small compensation for the murder and mayhem inflicted on Portlanders by Weymouthians at the Easton Massacre - please click here!

Before the new system was introduced sewerage was dumped untreated straight into the sea often from discharge pipes well above sea level. In the 1970s I would sit at a point south of Church Ope Cove and watch raw sewerage with all its attendant foul solid materials dropping from a pipe into the sea and watching a brown stain spreading along the coast into Church Ope Cove.


Above I am showing my determination in 1989 to investigate every aspect of Portland’s history by sniffing out an old sewer vent pipe near Church Ope Cove.


Two decades later I returned to ensure that the pipe was still there standing as a silent memorial to the bad old days when Typhoid and stomach problems brought on by insanitary practices were rife.



This small quarry is hidden away at the back of the Eight Kings pub. It is so overgrown that it was only possible to see and photograph it when a large area of surrounding brambles were cleared in association with the sewerage pumping station across the road.

Avalanche Church can be seen on the far left of the picture.



Part of the coastal path passes through the south-eastern corner of this area - see the aerial photograph above.

Within that part of the coast are these smooth boulders where my very good friend Sandra is sitting. They have clearly been worn over centuries by the action of the sea but are now about 100 feet (30 metres) above sea level.

Why would so much effort be used to get three boulders up from the sea?



An even greater mystery goes back to the mid-1960s.

I was exploring this area and spotted, high on a ledge in a man-made cave - see picture above taken in 2007 - a battered old suitcase.

For some reason I did not climb up to it and look inside.

When I returned a few days later - it had gone!

I now wonder if it was stuffed with cash - the proceeds of a robbery left to 'cool off' until the police had given up searching. Had I shown more curiosity I might have become very wealthy at some criminal’s expense.

Who knows?


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Keywords Southwell Portland sheep sewerage scheme Coastal Strip quarrying Portland Dorset