Portland New Banner Small 3

Fortuneswell South

Go Button

 

North Arrow

 

Go Button

Back to Home Page

 

West Arrow

Compass_rose

East Arrow

Back to Navigation  Page

 

 

South Arrow

 

 

68573015LRWe start high up overlooking one of the finest views in Britain and descend down the steep path of Old Hill which separates Tophill from Underhill.

We then pass through Fortuneswell which is characterised by the shopping centre and the housing estates adjacent to the main road.

Please see the next page north for pictures of Northern Fortuneswell.

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 view the Google Street View images of this area. Click the BACK button on your browser to return to this page.

Please click here to see a large scale late Victorian map of this area. Click the BACK button on your browser to return to this page.

There is an excellent article on Fortuneswell here and its older buildings are described in Eric Ricketts’ book “The Buildings of Old Portland”.

Please use this table to navigate around this page

OLD HILL AND A ‘VIRTUAL’ PET CEMETERY

Click Here Button

BELLE VUE TERRACE

Click Here Button

TILLYCOMBE ESTATE

Click Here Button

PORTLAND TOWN COUNCIL OFFICES

Click Here Button

BRITANNIA PUB

Click Here Button

MERTON CLOSE

Click Here Button

FORTUNESWELL CAR PARK

Click Here Button

ROYAL BRITISH LEGION

Click Here Button

THE SUN INN

Click Here Button

QUEEN ANNE HOUSE

Click Here Button

UNDERHILL METHODIST CHURCH

Click Here Button

ROYAL PORTLAND ARMS

Click Here Button

SHOPS SOUTH OF ROYAL PORTLAND ARMS

Click Here Button

TOP OF HIGH STREET

Click Here Button

PORTLAND STEAM LAUNDRY

Click Here Button

SHOPS IN VICINITY OF PUBLIC TOILETS

Click Here Button

THE FAKERY

Click Here Button

SHOP AROUND OLD BANK BUILDING

Click Here Button

THE REGAL CINEMA

Click Here Button

St JOHN’S CHURCH

Click Here Button

VENTNOR ROAD

Click Here Button

OLD HILL

68573008LR

This very steep footpath goes down from the back of the Portland Heights Hotel to near the Council Offices in Fortuneswell. On the way it crosses the track of the Merchants' Railway that used to take stone blocks from Tophill to Castletown where they would be loaded onto boats.

This path used to be the main route for getting between Tophill and the rest of the world.

The famous Portland character Dickey Hoskins had a Pets' Cemetery on Old Hill in the area to the right of the path in the picture above.

He was paid to dispose of unwanted pets and he promised to give them a dignified death and burial on Old Hill. However, he took the pets to Weymouth and sold them so he made two sources of income in return for appearing to dig a few 'graves' and a making a journey to the Mainland!

68573070LR

Old Hill before the trees had grown up around it.

68573032LR

There is always an unpleasant smell of either gas or sewerage at this point on Old Hill. Could it be that Dickey Hoskins really did bury some pets here and the smell is of their long decaying remains?

68573031LR

 

This view shows the remains of the tramway that took stone blocks to the docks in Castletown. The tramway was once much wider as it went off into the middle of the picture.

Just out of the above picture is the Old Rectory.

68573083

 

This is the dominant white building on the hillside in the picture above.

This was originally the rectory to St. George’s Church at Reforne, Easton. It later became a private hotel, and by the end of the 20th century had been converted into three dwellings. The rectory, along with its boundary walls, became Grade II Listed in May 1993.

68573010LR

 

68573034LR1

BELL VUE TERRACE

685730102LR

If we make a diversion briefly up the main road towards Priory Corner we see Bell Vue Terrace on the north of the main road. I wonder if this is one of the steepest inhabited roads in England.

68573059LR

Roads leading up to the main road are all steep with Brymers Road perhaps being the steepest. Special rough road surfacing has to be laid here to stop parked cars sliding down the road. The road is named after William Ernest Brymer (1840 – 1909). In the 1874 general election Brymer was elected Member of Parliament for Dorchester and held the seat until it was replaced under the Redistribution of Seats Act 1885. He was High Sheriff of Dorset in 1887.

In 1891, Brymer was elected Member of Parliament for South Dorset and held the seat until 1906.

68573038LR

Going up the hill towards the preserved crane gives us this view back down the hill showing the ramparts of the Verne Prison in the background.

68573079LR

Here we see the same view between the World Wars with a load of stone descending the hill behind a traction engine. The Travellers Rest pub is now a private house. Notice the cattle grazing in the fields of Tillycombe Farm on the slopes which are now heavily wooded.

TILLYCOMBE

As we descend the hill again from Priory Corner we see an estate of houses stretching away up the hill towards The Verne. This is the Tillycombe Estate.

68573083

This old picture shows the area around Tillycombe when the fields were all part of Tillycombe Farm. New Hill is seen stretching away to The Rectory near the top of the hill and the main road curves away to the right and the hairpin bend.

Near the bottom of the picture are buildings and farm equipment associated with Tillycombe Farm.

68573025LR

The recent picture above we see the houses of the Tillycombe Estate sprawling up the valley towards The Verne ramparts.

69073010LR

A view of Tillycombe looking down from New Ground.

68573085LR

The above picture show the view of the higher end of Tillycombe with the tracks and bridges of the Merchants Railway in the distance. The curved gully on the left is the path of the railway.

The picture below shows the same scene about a century ago.

68573084LR

Notice an empty stone wagon at the foot of the incline. There was a place on the right edge of the above picture where the railway track crossed the road.

68573039LR

At the top of Tillycombe Road is a car parking area seen in an earlier picture. It was through this area that one track of the Merchant’s Railway passed on is way from Priory Corner to Castletown. The road continuing up to the Verne Ramparts is a very steep and narrow lane.

The branch of the Merchants Railway descended to a point on the right edge of the above picture and then carried on down the track in the centre and curved to the left to follow the contour of the Verne Ramparts.

68573086LR

This old picture matches the previous picture. This was taken in 1919.

PORTLAND TOWN COUNCIL OFFICES

We return back down Tillycombe to the main road and the Portland Town Council offices which were opened in October 1933.

685730158LR

 

685730159LR

 

68573052LR

 

68573088LR

The pictures above and below were taken at the formal opening ceremony. For details of the names of those pictures please click here.

68573089LR

There was a house on the corner where the council offices now stand. Fixed against the wall of this house was a large fossil tree. When the house was demolished to make way fro the office block the fossil tree was removed to the Dorset County Museum where it now stands on display as seen below.

685730152LR

 

68573076LR

Above and below we see some old pictures taken near the corner where the council offices now stand. These involve various celebrations by Portlanders or troops marching to their barracks at The Verne Citadel.

68573063LR

The Second Dorset Regiment.

68573064LR

 

68573065LR

The Brotherhood Carnival ascending Fortuneswell. Note the shop on the right belonging to W. H. Thomas the saddler.

68573066LR

Celebrating the Coronation in June 1911 of King George V. The banner is for the Fortuneswell Primitive Methodist Church.

68573012LR

Immediately facing the hill and opposite the Council Offices is the block of flats seen above in 1989 not long after completion of building.

Before these were built the corner plot had a huge advertising display facing up the hill.

In the 1980s I sometimes commuted from Weymouth to Southwell on a bicycle. Coming down the hill I used to worry that my brakes could fail. I calculated, being a nerdy scientist, that I would reach the advertising hoarding travelling at about 85 miles per hour.

I further speculated as to my fate and I judged that the bike and I would leave quite a neat hole and that I would be found halfway up Tillycombe.

BRITANNIA PUB

The area between the Council Offices and the top of High Street has a large church, two pubs, a large car park and a clutter of interesting shops.

68573018LR

The Britannia pub is the first interesting building encountered on the west side of the main road. The Britannia Inn was named after a Royal Navy ship which frequently visited the dockyard. The pub became Grade II Listed in May 1993, and dates from the 19th century.

685730121LR

MERTON CLOSE

68573049LR

Close by the Britannia pub is tiny Merton Terrace. This is perhaps the smallest public street on Portland although Manor Place in Northern Fortuneswell is only thirty inches (750 mm) wide and serves several house as shown below.

68573090LR

FORTUNESWELL CAR-PARK

68573004LR

The area to the west of the main road opposite the Royal Portland Arms as seen above in the early 1990s is very bleak being a large car-park. However, it looked very different before the wholesale demolition of houses after extensive bomb damage in World War 2 - see below.

68573074LR

Note the line of stone ‘bollards’ erected to stop drunken Portlanders falling into the deep gap between the road and houses. Just one of these stones survives as shown below - but for how long?

68573003LR

 

68573042LR

A recent view of this same site.

68573068LR

Another view north along Fortuneswell’s main shopping street showing the Sun Inn and buildings on the left demolished after bomb damage in the 1940s.

The Royal British Legion Social Club is now close to where the Sun Inn stood.

ROYAL BRITISH LEGION

68573041LR

Above we see the Royal British Legion Social Club at the top of High Street. Below is what the scene looked like between the World Wars. A ‘Mechanics Institute’ once stood on the site of the social club and behind the building shown below. This round building was once a bakery.

 

68573061LR

THE SUN INN, FORTUNESWELL

The High Street can just be glimpsed on the right edge of the above picture descending to Chiswell.

68573073LR

Above and below - a pair of ‘Spot The Difference’ pictures looking south. High Street descends to the right - obviously a much narrower street in past days. The ‘Sun Inn’ and all buildings beyond were demolished after World War 2 and are now the site of the large Fortuneswell car-park. The Britannia Inn is just visible between the houses in the centre of the photographs.

68573078

The picture below is my attempt to reproduce the above scene. The road alignment has changed and the junction with High Street is much wider. In the picture above the top of High Street, which is just beyond where the boys are posing and this side of the ‘Sun Inn’, appears to be very much narrower than today.

685730126LR

 

We now go back to the Council Offices and look at the buildings on the other side of the road.

QUEEN ANNE HOUSE

68573051LR

The first building is this magnificent solidly built house. Queen Anne House was built in about 1720 by architect and quarry merchant Thomas Gilbert who used the house as his own residence. Queen Anne House, along with its boundary wall and gate piers, became Grade II* Listed in May 1993.

Gilbert was a very wealthy stone merchant who made his fortune supplying Portland stone for the rebuilding of London after the Great Fire of 1666.

In his book “The Buildings of Old Portland” Eric Ricketts wrote

“This house ranks among the foremost of its period in the smaller town houses of the country.”

The house is now a first class Bed and Breakfast establishment - see the website here.

68573006LR

Several years ago I spotted the above potted plant holder in the front of Queen Anne’s House and I had a vague feeling that I had seen this before. Sure enough, the old picture below of the Rev. Waugh’s astronomical observatory which once stood at Chiswell has exactly the same stone feature supporting the telescope on the right. So, it it the same object? It certainly looks like it!

680735152LR

 

68573050LR

These cottages have traditional Portland porches.

UNDERHILL METHODIST CHURCH

68573024LR

Underhill Methodist Church dominates these buildings nestling under the ramparts of the Verne Prison. A detailed history and description of this church can be read here. It was opened in 1900 and was damaged during a raid on Portland by fifty Luftwaffe bombers on the night of 11 August 1940.

I remember walking past many years ago and seeing that the incumbent clergyman was a Rev. Heaven which struck me as particularly appropriate. Please click here for many more examples of people whose names suit their occupations such as two experts in incontinence named J W Splatt and D Weedon.

ROYAL PORTLAND ARMS

68573023LR

The Royal Portland Arms was much frequented by King George III who bought his large family here for their Sunday Carvery consisting of Portland mutton which the king declared was “...the best in all my Kingdom”.

He also enjoyed eating wheatears  - locally called 'snalters' - which were trapped by young boys and sold for 3 pence per dozen.

Almost opposite the Royal Portland Arms stood The Sun Inn - now the site of a car-park.

SHOPS SOUTH OF ROYAL PORTLAND ARMS

Beyond the Royal Portland Arms are a terrace of small shops which have changed hands so many time in the past decades that I have been unable to record with my camera the many changes.

Only the chemist on the junction at the top of High Street has remained stable throughout uncertain economic times. This chemist used to have a window display of huge flasks filled with coloured water and old tins and bottles of medicines. Alas, all now removed and we are left with a very bland and boring shop front.

68573001LR

The row of shops north of the Royal Portland Arms is shown in my photograph above taken in 2010. They frequently close down and often stay empty for long periods before a new owner takes over. Over recent decades I have seen a carpet shop and a cafe come and go as well as shops selling a variety of bric-a-brac and second-hand goods.

Kelly’s Directory for 1896 lists 73 retail outlets in Fortuneswell which includes pubs, shops and banks. One business is listed as ‘George Winter - Fly Proprietor’ presumably the provider of a horse drawn hire vehicle rather the supplier of insects.

By 2015 many shops were either converted to housing, empty or selling an eclectic collection of items with only 18 businesses counted by me in May 2015.

68573022LR

The above picture dates from 2003.

68573009LR

The shop next to the chemist in 1990.

68573093LR1

The above picture is recent from 2015.

685730128LR

The above picture is from 2015.

685730124LR
685730125LR

‘Mike’ stands proudly to attention in a shop window in 2015.

685730123LR

A model of a paddle steamer - part of the eclectic mix of displays in these shops.

685730160LR

 

685730161LR

 

68573040LR

This picture from 2006 shows the chemist shop at the top of High Street.

Public conveniences have been built on the left of this photograph which is exactly where the ‘Fortune’s Well’ once gushed out of the ground. I wonder if this placement of the toilets was linked in some way to the presence of the old well?

685730127LR

The public conveniences on the site of the ancient ‘Fortune’s Well’.

TOP OF HIGH STREET

Before exploring further down the shopping area we will go a short distance down the steep High Street to see a derelict house. This is just down the hill from the Royal British Legion building.

68573033LR

An unfortunate case of subsidence which has left this house uninhabitable. It is often overlooked that Underhill is built on a old geological landslide and this area is unstable unless buildings are on a strong foundation.

68573081LR

PORTLAND STEAM LAUNDRY

68573011LR1

 

The Portland Steam Laundry was built in 1900 at about the time that the fields west of Fortuneswell were being developed into a housing estate. The laundry was built at the top of Brymer’s Avenue, one of the steepest roads on Portland.

It opened under the Chairmanship of Mr T. J. Templeman of Stanton Court, Weymouth.

It is the only substantial commercial building in Fortuneswell and is the dominating feature of this residential area.

68573026LR

 

68573058LR

With the introduction of home washing machines and a decline in commercial businesses on Portland, the laundry eventually ceased trading and became succession of commercial businesses such as a workshop, offices for a Defence Contractor and the building is currently (2015) an Arts Centre.

685730143LR

SHOPS IN VICINITY OF PUBLIC TOILETS

We now return to the public toilets at the top of High Street to continue exploring northwards through Fortuneswell.

68573069LR

The public toilets now stand on the site of the buildings on the left. The Fortune’s Well can be seen in the centre of the picture and the Britannia Inn can be seen at the end of the road. The road leading off by the gas lamp is the top of High Street.

Almost opposite where the public toilets now stand were a row of shops. These included the ‘magnificent’ Department Store shown below in this 1905 advertisement.

685730141LR

The size and grandeur of this store has been greatly exaggerated in the above illustration; not just through the inclusion of a tiny horse and carriage. ‘The Fakery’ now occupies the left-hand shop front.

A photograph taken by Portland Historian Stuart Morris in 1971 shows the left-hand two storey half of the building occupied by Childs Brothers Hardware and Funeral Directors.

The right-hand part of the building was Stuart Morris’s parents’ business for nearly 50 years selling furniture, carpets, curtains, fashions, drapery, etc. In its prime it was the largest shop on Portland.

It was taken over by Goulds of Dorchester on Stuart’s parents’ retirement in 1974.

685730136LR

The shops above were photographed by me in 1989.The Chelsea Building Society occupies the left-hand shop front on ‘Stanhope House’ shown in the above 1905 advertisement.

The following pictures, kindly supplied by Pam Oswald and reproduced with her permission, show further uses of these - and other nearby - shops as pictured in 1982.

685730156LR

(Reproduced by kind permission of Pam Oswald)

This shop stood at the junction of High Street which can be seen on the left edge of the picture going down steeply to Chiswell.

As an aside at this point, note the road sign. This used to have the words ‘NO ENTRY’ embossed across the middle. When the UK joined the Common Market road signs had to be standardized so the words were painted over with white paint to make them less visible thus reducing the useful information in the sign but providing employment for an army of council workmen armed with pots of white paint.

685730153LR

(Reproduced by kind permission of Pam Oswald)

685730154LR

(Reproduced by kind permission of Pam Oswald)

685730155LR

(Reproduced by kind permission of Pam Oswald)

685730157LR

(Reproduced by kind permission of Pam Oswald)

There was a time when small shops specializing in a very limited area of retail commerce were able to survive.

For example in Weymouth there was for several decades, a shop that survived selling only walking sticks and umbrellas. Sales may have been slow but profit margins were so high that a living could be made.

By the 1980s these shops were disappearing rapidly from towns and villages all over Great Britain because what they were selling was now available in large stores taking smaller profit margins.

THE FAKERY

68573043LR

This a derelict shop. However, the whole of the boarded up frontage has been brilliantly painted to look like a quirky shop selling spoof items. It is great fun just to stand and look at the items in the ‘window’.

685730115LR

 

685730113LR

 

685730110LR

 

685730114LR

 

685730112LR

 

685730111LR

Can you name the children’s TV character shown above who had adventures in his local fancy dress shop in 1971 and 1972. Only twelve episodes were made but these were repeated many times.

685730116LR

Note that the bolt has been painted on the hinge side of the door.

SHOPS AROUND THE OLD BANK BUILDING

We now carry on travelling north from ‘The Fakery’ and explore as far as the church. Those parts of Fortuneswell north of the church and heading down to Victoria Square are in the next page north from here - please click here to go there.

685730145LR

This shop was, for many years, the photographic business of Reg Vincent - a familiar figure in Portland life. Seen here in 2012 the shop is ‘Barganza’ and later became a shop selling all manner of items including a motorcycle in the window.

685730109LR

Here the shop has changed again.

685730144LR

This area welcomed - seemingly without huge cheering crowds - a royal visitor in the rotund form of King Edward VII on 4th April 1902 as seen above. The shops he was passing are shown below.

68573082LR

Above and below - shops opposite the old bank building.

68573080LR

The above view is from 2013 and the view below is from 2015.

685730107LR

 

685730147LR

A view from 2012.

685730164LR

Jackson’s Gallery is a really excellent coffee shop with the best home-made cakes and other treats in an artistic environment surrounded by paintings.

68573091LR

The picture above was taken in 2015 and is about a century more recent than the picture below.

68573067LR

 

68573028LR

The Red House Bakery was first painted this bright colour by Mr. Dunkley in 1897 to celebrate Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee. Sadly, it closed in October 2003 and this picture shows the shop standing forlornly awaiting a new owner. Eventually it was taken over by an Estate Agency.

68573029LR

 

68573072LR

Artists Row is one of the small streets that go down steeply from Fortuneswell into Chiswell. Although the picture is stated to be Artists Row I have been unable to match up any of the buildings with present houses either here or in the other roads running off Fortuneswell.

685730168LR

Mallams is another steep lane connecting Fortuneswell and Chiswell. Number 3 near the top of the hill was once a shop selling vegetables.

685730105LR

The ‘Portland Centre Charity Shop’ seen above in 2015 was, back in 1989, a clothes shop trading as T and P Foster Outfitters as seen below. We see the shop with its ‘closing down’ notices in the window.

685730146LR1

 

685730104LR

These three shops stand opposite St John’s Church looking for a new life.

THE REGAL CINEMA

685730151LR

The new luxury cinema, The Regal Cinema, was built during 1932, hiding St. John's Church from visitors coming onto Portland. The cinema was built by the fairground family Herberts, in an Art Deco style typical of the period.

In the face of falling attendances due to competition from television, the cinema attempted to boost its number of customers by specialising in the screening of 'X' Certificate films, largely targeted towards sailors of the Royal Navy.

During the late 1960s the building was transformed into a popular Bingo Hall.

In the 1990s the old Regal Cinema had become 'Rumours Nightclub' and featured a large model aircraft hung from the ceiling of the dance floor - see here for a very informative article by Ashley Smith about this building.

Like so many other buildings on Portland, it caught fire one evening in 1992. There is a movie showing the fire brigade dealing with the aftermath of the fire here.

The burned out hulk disfigured the shopping area until enough of it was demolished to reveal the church which had been hidden behind the monstrosity.

The damage caused was valued at over 175,000 and police announced it to be arson. An investigation was launched, but the culprits were never caught.

Coincidentally (???) a Kebab shop almost opposite Rumours Nightclub was destroyed by an arson attack in April 1992. This had been Morris’s butcher’s shop before being turned into a takeaway outlet. Next door was the Regal Fruit Store which was also damaged by the fire next door. There is a video of this fire to be seen here.

 

685730103LR

An attractive pair of houses with unusual porch roofs. The left-hand house was Morris’s Butcher Shop which was later a Kebab takeaway outlet fire-bombed in April 1992. The right-hand house of the pair was the ‘Regal Fruit Store’ that was also damaged by the arson attack.

685730138LR

In 1998 an application to erect a three-storey building providing six flats was made and approved. The site was soon cleared completely, and the new development replaced it. However it had been agreed to place these houses further back from the road, which allowed St. John's Church to be seen more clearly from the road.

St JOHN’S CHURCH, FORTUNESWELL

685730133LR

 

685730139LR

St John’s Church undergoing renovation in 2005.

Tastefully set back from the road, the church can now be seen in all its glory as visitors to Portland drive up the road towards the climb to Tophill.

685730137LR

Above and below are matching photographs taken about 80 years apart.

685730140LR

 

The history and a description of St John’s Church can be read here.

The following interesting account of ‘goings on’ in Fortuneswell is based on detailed research by Stuart Morris of previously unseen archival material. I am grateful to Stuart for bringing this into the public domain.

The church was built between 1838 - 1840 and the first minister was the Reverent Jenour who appears to have been an unconventional character. Following his death at the age of 81 in 1874, the Reverent T. A. Ottley from Radipole  arrived to run the church and parish.

However the arrival of Ottley triggered a feud with the rector of St George's Church who was the Reverent J. Augustine Beazor. This situation added to the traditional rift between the Portland communities of Tophill and Underhill.

Beazor had criticised Ottley for permitting Tophill couples to marry at St John's Church. This matter was taken to the Bishop of Salisbury, and the outcome was judged in Ottley's favour.

However the feud became considerably more serious in 1883.

The Reverent Ottley's wife disclosed to Reverent Beazor that her husband was having an affair with his 17 year old housekeeper. With this the Reverent Beazor quickly alerted the church authorities to the accusations against Reverent Ottley.

The case was taken to a court at the House of Lords, where Reverent Ottley was cleared of all charges.

The vicar's wife, who had provided false evidence during the trial, left the island broken and in April 1885 Reverent Ottley returned to his Portland occupation at St. John's Church.

685730134LR

The funeral of Canon Beazor outside the Rectory half way up Old Hill. The track across the picture is the Merchant’s Railway - note the railway lines. The picture below shows the funeral procession going up Old Hill which must have been a strenuous activity.

685730135LR

 

68573099LR

On the day I called by to take some pictures in May 2015 the church was full of items for sale for the annual Arts and Craft Fayre.

68573092LR
68573096LR

 

68573095LR

 

68573098LR

 

VENTNOR ROAD

68573075LR1

Ventnor Road runs parallel to the main road and behind St John’s Church. Of late Victorian construction the old picture above can be compared with the recent picture below.

685730142LR

 

Return To Top Of Page

 

 

 

 

Keywords Fortuneswell St John’s Church Royal Portland Arms Portland Steam Laundry Brymers Road Regal Cinema Portland Dorset