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St George's Church Area

Portland, Dorset

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The above image is copyright Dorset County Council 2000 and is reproduced here with permission.

This area contains St George's Church - it's on the bottom edge of the red square.

Also we find Tradecroft Industrial Estate built on the old municipal rubbish tip and the Portland Cricket Ground - note the playing pitch forming a bright green line near the bottom centre of the photograph.

The right-hand half of the photograph is Inmosthay Quarry.

The George Inn, possibly the oldest inhabited building on Portland, is on the bottom edge of the red square overlooking the cricket pitch.

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.

For brilliant interactive 360 degree views of the graveyard please click here and for views inside the church please click here.
St GEORGES CHURCH AND GRAVEYARD
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The next three pictures show St George's Church is contrasting moods.

At left the Portland stone glows in the sunset - quite different from the rather harsh glare of fresh stone on a bright summer's day.

St George's Church - usually photographed in brilliant sunshine to attract tourists - is here seen in more sombre conditions.

A damp sea mist drifts in on the south-westerly wind and makes the monuments stand out - even appear to be alive - in the gloom.

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The majestic outline of the church against a setting sun giving a sense of isolation which is characteristic of the Royal Manor itself.

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St George's Church was built between 1754 and 1766 to replace the dilapidated St Andrew's Church near Rufus castle. The latter had suffered damage by landslips and raiding French pirates and was no longer suitable as a place of worship.

The location for St George's Church was in part because it was one of the few places where graves could be dug the required 'six feet deep'.

Although completed in 1766, by 1794 the roof timbers were so decayed that the roof had to be replaced. The church was uncomfortable and draughty but served the Island until a new church - All Saints - was consecrated in Easton in 1917. St George's fell into disuse despite the fact that the population of Portland had increased ten-fold between 1801 and 1901. 

Its poor state of repair and inconvenient location resulted in it becoming abandoned and bomb damage in 1940 helped its decline. In the 1960s it came under the protection of the 'Friends of St George's Church' who have now restored it to its original glory.

There are some excellent pictures of the church and the graveyard here and the Dorset Historic Churches website here also has a description and pictures.

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Walking around St George's churchyard, one will be struck by the large number of 'Portland' family names - Comben, Pearce, Stone, Attwooll, Lano, etc. So dominant were a few families that they frequently intermarried as shown above.

Of the those listed in the Dorset telephone directory, 21% of those with the Stone family name  live on Portland compared with only 4% of the Smiths in Dorset living on Portland. 

Hence, Portlanders are still loathe to move away from their Isle. 

In fact, as late as the 1970s there were still people who had never left Portland in their life!

Do try to get hold of a copy of a little booklet "Interesting Headstones of St George's Church". The inscriptions of 31 headstones are reproduced with a map showing where to find them.

A small sample of the most interesting are:

William Hansford killed during the storm of 23rd November 1824 when his house fell on him.

George Leggett who went to the Arctic aboard HMS Discovery.

Richard Otter who drowned on the Titanic in 1912.

Joseph Trevitt, an Assistant Warder at the Portland Prison who was murdered by a convict in 1869.

Johann Magdelinsky who drowned when the Royal Adelaide sank off Chesil in 1872.

William Pearce who was struck by lightning in 1858 whilst on duty atop Chesil Beach.

Mary Way and William Lano who were shot and killed in 1803 by a press gang supported by the Mayor of Weymouth - leading to a long-time hatred of Weymouth people by the older Portlanders.

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THE GEORGE INN, REFORNE

The George Inn is reputed to be the oldest inhabited building on Portland.

Please click here for a picture of this pub taken in 1905.

There are other old pictures here.

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FANCY'S BEACH
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'Fancy's Beach' is on the eastern side of the road to St George's Church and north of the cricket ground. 

The descriptive word 'beach' on Portland means a flat area of undisturbed or in-filled quarry land. 

When photographed in 1989 an interesting painted showman's wagon was parked nearby. This is in the centre of the picture.

In the steep ditch in the foreground is a small cave system. The entrance was only accessible in 1989 by sliding into a small hole - which I have never attempted!

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A wonderful collection of rusty sheds and buildings almost opposite St George's Church.

This is currently (2002) part of the car breakers yard which also supplies excellent eggs from its free-range chickens.

Sadly, most of these chickens - comprising several rare breeds -  were stolen late in 2002.

INMOSTHAY QUARRY

The entrance to the Inmosthay Quarry cave system. 

Portland has an extensive system of caves. The entrance to this network is the hole to the left of the picture centre.

It is reported that it has (or had!) a fine collection of stalactites and stalagmites but that the cave entrance had to be stopped up with iron bars to prevent further vandalism.

This entrance is on a near-sheer rock face across a ditch from the main track and is difficult to reach.

 

 

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Above left is the closest that I got - a photograph taken with a 200 mm lens from the same position as the previous picture. The bucket shows that there was still caving activity in 1989 when this picture was taken.

The above right picture was taken in 2008 and there appears to be no sign of cavers using this entrance.

       

Inmosthay Quarry is still being worked and providing stone.

TRADECROFT INDUSTRIAL ESTATE

Once a major centre for the stone industry, this huge factory was bought by Tod's of Weymouth for the manufacture of glass fibre mouldings but was near-derelict by 2002.

The land stretching from the factory to the camera was the Portland household rubbish dump until it was compacted, covered with stone waste and used as the foundation for a small industrial estate.

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This steam locomotive arrived at the industrial estate at Tradecroft in May 2003. This was - and presumably still is! - a Bulleid Merchant Navy Class No 35018 "British India Line" in its British Railways livery.

It looks very much the worse for wear but, when renovated, it will be a gleaming hissing monster ready to work on the Watercress Line in Mid-Hampshire.

This locomotive was built at Eastleigh Engine Works in May 1945 and was numbered 21C18 in the system then used by the Southern Railway. This locomotive spent most of its life working from the huge Nine Elms Depot in London and was used to pull Pullman trains and once even hauled a Royal Train back in July 1955.

The locomotive was withdrawn in 1964 and was sent to the massive graveyard for steam locomotives at Barry Island in South Wales. It was bought by the Watercress Line in 1980 but no renovation was done until it was moved to Portland in 2003.

I have fond memories of travelling between Weymouth and London on trains pulled by these types of locomotive until steam haulage was withdrawn in the mid 1960s.

The next set of pictures show locomotives in the repair yard in February 2006

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Locomotive 30053 has been running on the Swanage Railway, click here and pictures of it during its working life can be seen here.

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Late in 2007 'ALBERT' - above right - was in steam and running on the Plym Valley Railway, click here to see it in action.

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A picture of locomotive 47160 when in working order can be viewed on the 

"Railfan.net Contributor Archive" by clicking here.

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