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69071524LREaston Gardens lies near the heart of this aerial photograph. There is much to explore in this busy area and we explore the area starting with Easton Gardens and its immediate community. We then follow the routes from the garden outwards north, east, south and finally to the west.

There are a large number of old photographs of Easton to be found by clicking here. Some of these have been included here where a comparison can be made between scenes separated by as much as a century.

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

Please click here for a detailed late Victorian 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.

Although part of Wakeham falls into this map square, for convenience Wakeham is featured in its entirety here.

The sketch map shown below is based on several sources from different years and so does not represent a ‘snapshot’ at a specific time. However, it relates to approximately the late Victorian period.

The Upper and Lower Ponds are shown in blue and the well in the Gardens is shown by a small rectangle.

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The numbers on the map correspond to the numbers in the identification table below.

Please use this table to navigate around this page

1

EASTON GARDENS

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EASTON CLOCK TOWER

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2

SOUTH OF EASTON GARDENS

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SCALLYWAG MAGAZINE

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3

EASTON METHODIST CHURCH

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4

LADYMEAD CLOSE

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LADYMEAD SOCIAL HOUSING COMPLEX

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5

EASTON RAILWAY STATION

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6

VICTORIA PLACE

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7

NORTH OF EASTON GARDENS

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8

EAST OF EASTON SQUARE

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NORTH FROM EASTON SQUARE

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9

FOUNDRY CLOSE

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10

STANLEY HOUSE

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11

AN UNNAMED CLOSE

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12

THE PUNCHBOWL INN

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13

CROWN FARM

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14

STRAITS

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SOUTH FROM EASTON GARDENS

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15

BOTTOMCOMBE STONE WORKS AND TESCO STORE

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THE WINDMILL HOUSING ESTATE

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THE PORTICO

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WEST FROM EASTON GARDENS

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16

FANCY’S GARAGE

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17

GROSVENOR ESTATE

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PORTLAND CARNIVAL

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EASTON GARDENS

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A sociable gathering in Easton Gardens in 2007. The two ladies are Lorraine Camp on the left and my best friend Sandy on the right. Lorraine successfully managed the ‘Steps In Time Image Project’.

Before the gardens were created in the first years of the 20th century this area was a bleak weed covered expanse with a water pump which supplied water as seen below. The water supply was set up in 1775 and the well was 100 feet (30 metres) deep.

There was a large pond which was stagnant and there were fears of the nearby well being polluted.

An excellent article on the history of the gardens can be seen here.

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Until the early years of the 20th century the centre of Easton was a bleak place. The 1905 “Portland Year Book” claimed that the opening of the gardens the previous year had transformed “...the wilderness and the solitary place and had made it blossom like the rose”. Why did the centre of a bustling and relatively prosperous village have a miserable area of muddy bleakness at its core?

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This is a general view over the gardens in 2015 looking towards the western boundary and Easton Methodist Church. A bandstand once stood on the central circular area as shown below.

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This old view across the site of where Easton Gardens was to be built showing the site of  Easton Methodist Church in the centre of this picture. The rather ramshackled ‘hut’ housed the water hand pump.

 
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The opening festivities for Easton Gardens.

EASTON GARDENS CLOCK TOWER

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Laying the foundation stone for the Clock Tower in 1907.

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A view across Easton Gardens showing the clock tower being built in 1907. Quarrying is underway south of Straits near the end of Delhi Lane.

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A view across the gardens in 2008 showing the clock tower and toilet block. The clock tower has been Grade II Listed since May 1993.

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Another view from 2008 showing the rather magnificent clock tower.

SOUTH OF EASTON GARDENS

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SCALLYWAG MAGAZINE

Also on the south of the Gardens now stands a Boots Pharmacy.

In the late 1980s this was Gibbs Newsagents. I particularly remember this because it was one of the only outlets for the “Scallywag” satirical magazine which was very popular in the Portland and Weymouth area between about 1987 and 1991.

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The owner and chief writer was Simon Regan. He had been a national journalist who had a reputation for exposing corruption, immorality - especially suspected  paedophile activity - and the (supposed) influence of Freemasonry in the Dorset Police Force. He claimed that the latter investigation resulted in him being beaten up outside the Rembrandt Hotel at Lodmoor by two off-duty policemen.

His campaigns were uninhibited and his naming and shaming of local people and companies bought many writs for libel to his door.

However, his lack of assets meant that aggrieved targets of his magazine could do little more than take out injunctions to stop publication. Indeed, some issues never made it into the shops.

Simon Regan announced fairly early on in Scallywag’s production years that he was stopping all criticism of alleged Portland corruption because of the very serious threats made against him by, what he called, “The Portland Mafia”.

Scallywag was enormously popular and each issue was eagerly awaited to read the latest scandalous reports of alleged wrongdoings in South Dorset. However, it was also enormously unpopular with the many innocent people who were wrongly accused of misdeeds but who had no means of clearing their reputations.

On a lighter note Scallywag informed its readers of the misfortunes of Wiffer and his mobile inflatable cinema as well as the adventures of Pinky.

Simon Regan moved to London in 1991 and the local Scallywag magazine ended publication. 

Please click here to read an article about Simon Regan and his Scallywag magazine.

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Also on the south side of Easton Square, next to the Working Men’s Conservative Club, stood N. J. Last's motor repair and servicing premises. In 1989 it was demolished and the site cleared to build flats; the foundations for which are being laid in the picture below.

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This March 2015 photograph shows the flats next to the ‘Jubilee Hall’ - now the ‘South Portland Conservative Working Men’s Club’. The ‘Jubilee Hall’ was built in 1887 and is described by Eric Ricketts in his excellent book “The Old Buildings Of Portland” as “Rather splendid”.

EASTON METHODIST CHURCH

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On the west side of the gardens stands the large Easton Methodist Church seen in this 2008 photograph. For an excellent article on this church please click here. The church opened in 1907. The church hall was formerly a Wesleyan school dating from 1878.

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This photograph show the old building on the left which was demolished and later to become ‘Easton Motor Services’. This has recently been demolished to provide space for a very fine modern house.

LADYMEAD CLOSE

This lane off the western side of Easton Square by the church leads to the Ladymead social housing complex. On this lane used to be a painted garage door as shown below in this 1990 picture.

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This fashion for decorating garage doors was (I claim) started in 1974 when I painted a garage door in Radipole Lane. This spread until there were over two dozen decorated doors in Weymouth and Portland. Now - alas - almost all have reverted to boring old plain colours.

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By 2015 this had been painted plain white as seen above.

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This view in Ladymead Close shows the rear of the Methodist Church. Next to this driveway is a somewhat unusual small facade which looks as though it was once part of a larger building - see below.

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LADYMEAD SOCIAL HOUSING COMPLEX

The Ladymead complex was built on the site of Easton Railway Station. This provides sheltered accommodation for elderly and vulnerable residents.

EASTON RAILWAY STATION

There are many pictures of the railway system on Portland here. Also, the three books by Brian Jackson shown below are excellent.

Railways_Volume_1 Railways_Volume_2a Railways_Volume_3

 

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The railway line entered Easton from the south on a track which passed through what are now these public gardens. The rectangular building with the pointed roof in the far middle of the above picture is a prominent house in Reforne and appears in many old pictures of Easton Station as seen below on the extreme left of the picture.

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The above and the following old pictures show views of Easton Station in its peak of activity during the first half of the twentieth century. Note in these pictures the tall block building on the extreme left above, the bridge carrying Reforne over the railway and the footbridge over the tracks running from Bloomfield Terrace.

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The footbridge seen above ran along the line of the wire fence in the picture below.

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The picture above was taken looking along the line of the footbridge. Imagine the steps up from Bloomfield Terrace going to the footbridge high up in this picture and the railway tracks running from left to right.

Going up the steps in the distance takes us to Bloomfield Terrace as seen below. This passes onto Easton Square and this narrow path would have been a main pedestrian exit from the station.

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The station footbridge would have once stood at the end of this terrace. It is a little odd that so many old and modern house are situated on the path with no vehicular access to a road.

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The great fire of 28th November 1903.

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The view from the footbridge looking north with the Reforne road bridge in the background.

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Loading coal in the Easton siding. Note the water tower in the background which appears in previous pictures.

I was fortunate to be on the very last passenger train to carry passengers on the Melcombe Regis to Easton railway line in 1965. It was a fascinating trip especially as the train strained its way through the Royal Naval Dockyard and climbed all the way up East Weares before curving around into Easton Station.

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Looking south from the road bridge taking Reforne over the railway line.

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The same view in March 2015

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This building which sits astride the old track is the Ladymead housing complex heating boiler. Beyond this small building is the bridge taking Reforne over the northwards extension of the track. This picture was taken about a decade ago.

By 2015 a high steel security fence had been placed across this building and a huge amount of rubbish was accumulating behind it.

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This picture from the 1990s looking north shows the railway track disappearing towards Inmosthay Quarry. The track beyond the bridge was soon taken over to extend the gardens of local houses.

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The above picture was taken in 2008 and shows the railway track north of the bridge taking Reforne over the line. Below is a similar view taken in 2015.

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VICTORIA PLACE

The railway track continued north into Inmosthay Quarry running under another bridge at Victoria Place - please click here to see an old large-scale map of the route of the track.

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It’s difficult now to imagine but the track extension from Easton Station (the terminus for passengers) once ran through this area and into Inmosthay Quarry.

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At Victoria Place the Inmosthay Quarry goods extension track passed under a bridge and into the quarry where the remains of a crane were visible in the above picture from 1990. About ten years later the crane pivot base was covered in stone blocks and no longer visible. The scene was pictured as below in March 2015.

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At about this point there was once a large pile of coal. I bought my children here in the mid-1980s so that they could see and feel this strange and ancient fuel which they had never previously seen or heard of - now long gone.

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Eventually the Weymouth (Melcombe Regis) to Portland track ended at this point opposite the Drill Hall although no sign exists of this part of the line. The distant mobile phone mast marks the track of the railway from Reforne.

NORTH OF EASTON SQUARE

On the north side of Easton Square are shops as well as houses formed from previous shops.

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This photograph from March 2015 shows the shops where the northern part of Easton Gardens meets the start of Reforne.

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Eric Ricketts describes the house with the ornate stone balcony as a “Textbook of Edwardian masonry skills” dating from about 1912. Its neighbour is much older and is of the Georgian period.

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I spotted this sign in a shop on Easton Square’s north side. It’s good to know that Portland Dough Cakes are still available. Please click here for a recipe.

EAST OF EASTON SQUARE

The eastern side of Easton Square is dominated by the Co-operative store with its twin turrets.

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The Weldmar Charity Shop (with the blue blinds) took over the site from the Easton Sports Shop which stocked an amazing selection of sporting equipment.

NORTH FROM EASTON GARDENS

Walking north from Easton Gardens takes us past small lanes on the east which include the site of a foundry, a demolished fire station and also past many local shops. On the west side of the main road are a lot of local shops and businesses.

The main road heads up the slope towards the Portland Heights Hotel passing on the way the site of Crown Farm which was so devastatingly destroyed by German bombs in World War 2.

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The view north of the Easton Gardens photographed in 2006. On the left-hand edge of the picture is Lloyd’s Bank - the only bank branch serving Portland which in March 2015 was threatened with partial closure.

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The same view but about a century earlier. Note Attwooll’s tobacconist shop on the left.

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The west side of Easton Street in 2006. The bollard appears to have been involved in an argument with a vehicle and lost that argument. Below we see the same scene during a festival gathering. The ‘Volunteer Inn’ on the left is now an estate agent.

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Just a little north of Easton Square we see Spreckley's toy and sweet shop - closed and with a 'For Sale' sign in the window as photographed in 1989.

This was the sort of old-fashioned shop which was a delight to browse around and buy those odd things that were seemingly impossible to find elsewhere.

Next door was Marshall’s Radio and TV shop.

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This had been trading for many decades. This picture was taken in the 1930s.

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Note the ‘Marconi Man’ logo on the garage.

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Mr Marshall outside his shop.

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The above picture from 2006 shows Marshall’s store thriving.

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The western side of the shopping centre. The curious archway driven through a shop leads to a small housing development.

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The New Inn, despite its name, appears to be based on a building from the 1600s. It has been much altered over recently times.

FOUNDRY CLOSE

Looking over towards the shops on the eastern side of the main road we see below the entrance to Foundry Close.

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The picture below shows the modern view looking west back down ‘Foundry Close’ towards the main road.

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The view below is from when the foundry was a thriving business.

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This view out of Foundry Close shows the Post Office opposite before it was moved to Reforne.

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With the closure of the foundry a fire station was built on the site. The above picture taken in about 1990 shows the fire station after it was closed. A replacement was erected in The Grove.

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Portland Fire Engine at Easton between the World Wars.

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The recent development of sheltered housing in Foundry Close.

STANLEY HOUSE

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The ‘Stanley House Bistro’ was on the east side of Easton Square as photographed here in 1989.

It was widely famed for its excellent menu and presentation.

In the 2000s the house was owned by Carenza Heyhoe, a well-known artist at the Wellbeloved Gallery.

Eric Ricketts wrote in his book “The Buildings of Old Portland” that the building is probably based on an early 1660s house. On the fireplace surround in one room William and Rebecca Pearce had the date 1760 inscribed; clearly a later addition to the house.

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The ‘Stanley House’ pictured in March 2015

UNNAMED CLOSE

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The above gap leads to an unnamed close of houses; some of them old.

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The same view about a century earlier. ‘London House’ was a clothes shop and the shop on the left was a produce merchants. The picture below also shows the left-hand shop.

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The pictures above and below are nearly a century separated in time.

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In this small cul-de-sac are some old cottages seen above and below.

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PUNCHBOWL INN

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The pub in March 2015 - not much changed externally from the old view below.

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So where was the ‘Boudoir Dairy’ in Easton?

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Jesty’s The Butcher. The location of this shop in Easton is not known.

CROWN FARM

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A modern view of the buildings at the corner of Easton Street and The Grove. Crown Farm occupied this site until World War 2 when the buildings were greatly damaged by bombing.

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Crown Farm in the 1920s.

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Bomb damage to Crown Farm on 2nd July 1942. The Dairy was destroyed and the Farm House was extensively damaged.

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STRAITS

Travelling east from the gardens we pass along Straits to the top of Wakeham. This includes several shops as well as local shops that have been converted to houses. We have the home of nationally famous  ‘Shakey’s Pork Scratchings’ and the local library. The largest building by far is the 20th-century Anglican church ‘All Saints Church’. This was built between 1914 - 1917.

Portland’s first school - ‘Maister's School’ opened in 1720 and was Portland's only day school for over a century. It eventually closed in 1857. The site of the Maister's School is now the location of Portland Tophill Library seen below.

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The old Reading Room photographed in 1925. Previous the “Meister’s School”.

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On the northern side of Straits is what appears to be an old shop converted to a private house.

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Miss Holt in Willis Chemist shop in Straits, date unknown.

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Shakey's Pork Scratchings are the only genuine and tasty examples I have found anywhere - and I'm a bit of a connoisseur of pork scratchings - as my expanding waistline testifies!

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Here is Pete's Hardware - a remarkable 'Aladdin's Cave' where you will be sure of finding anything you want, no matter how obscure. A brilliant shop! There are all too few 'sell it all' shops now available in local communities.

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The building pictured above used to be Comben's Shoe Shop. On the original of this 1989 photograph the faded and peeling name above the windows can just be made out. All that is left now is the name 'COMBEN' engraved on the glass in the door of this (now) private residence.

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In Straits there was a pub called ‘The Swan’ to the left of the picture. For a modern view of this scene see below. The entrance to Delhi Lane is close to the lamp post.

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The building in the centre of this March 2015 picture was once the tiny Sun Inn. The building to the left has the plaque on its facade shown below. 

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SOUTH FROM EASTON GARDENS - PARK ROAD

Moving south from the gardens we go along Park Road, past the site of a small cinema and the enormous  Bottomcombe Quarry and stone works which is now occupied by a TESCO superstore. Passing on south we come to a new large housing estate which opens up into abandoned quarries and two mediaeval windmills.

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A cinema once stood on the site occupied by the nearest house. Before that there was “The Young Men’s Moral and Welfare Institution” and before that a chapel stood on this plot.

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Just to the south is the Portland Health Centre; a particularly uninspiring utilitarian building.

BOTTOMCOMBE STONE WORKS AND TESCO SUPERSTORE

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The office of the John Pearce Portland Stone Company Ltd which is now a private house.

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This old works office and long extension building stood to the north of the huge Bottomcombe Stone Works in Park Road. Below we see the view in about 2006.

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The siding tunnel pictured below passed under Park Road opposite the above building.

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This tunnel ran under Park Road into Bottomcombe Quarry and stone works. I discovered it on an old map - please click here to see on a map the siding passing under the road. A quick search found this tunnel in the early 1990s by which time it was filling up with rubbish.

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Below we see Bottomcombe Stone Works before demolition in 2007 for the TESCO store

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The following three pictures show carved stone murals on the walls on the approach to TESCO.

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A steam traction engine, a large stone cutting machine of the type used on this site and a Royal Navy ship.

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Portland Characters

In the bottom left corner are Len Gee and Robert Spencer Hinde drinking in the Royal Exchange Pub.

Top left we see James Burgess in his prison warder’s uniform. He joined The Grove Prison (now the Youth Offenders Institution) in 1850 and he retired on 14th December 1871.

The lad right of centre is astride a shark caught off Chesil and on display at The Cove Inn.

The lady on the left of the central trio is Dr Marie Stopes with her son Harry in 1924. I cannot identify the others.

In the background Lerrets are in use off Chesil using a seine net to catch mackerel.

A Victoria Cross at far right belongs to Jack Mantle who was awarded this honour posthumously for his courage during the sinking of H.M.S. Foylebank - click here for details.

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The three lighthouses and a hand quarry crane.

THE WINDMILL HOUSING ESTATE

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Above we see the area south of the TESCO store allocated for the Windmill Housing Estate

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THE PORTICO

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The purpose of this scale model of a portico is not know to me. Some say that it was used as a sales show piece to potential developers. Others say it was a model of an actual building which was never built.

The following two pictures taken by Peter Minter and reproduced with his kind permission show the facade reduced to rubble in March 2015 at the back of the building site for the new Bottomcombe housing estate.

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WEST FROM EASTON GARDENS - EASTERN REFORNE

Moving west from Easton Gardens we enter Reforne and note several local shops before crossing over the track of the railway line between Weymouth and Portland. A mixture of recent and very old houses line this road.

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On the northern side of Easton Square we see, in this early 1990s picture, the ‘Sugar Loaf Cafe’ and the ‘Red House Bakery’. The latter has closed to be replaced by the ‘Island Community Action’ centre.

FANCY’S GARAGE

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Fancy's Garage was located on the north side of Reforne opposite the launderette/dry cleaning shop - which has also now been converted to a private house. The garage was demolished in 1989 and the site cleared for housing.

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On the site of Fancy's Garage is a new housing estate appropriately named Fancy’s Close.

THE GROSVENOR ESTATE

To the west of Easton and south of Reforne stretches an uninspiring estate of late Victorian terraced houses.

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This plaque sums up this part of Portland for me!

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This antiques shop stood on the corner of Grosvenor Road and Station Road. The above photograph was taken in the early 1990s. It was later converted into a private house as seen below.

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PORTLAND CARNIVAL

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In the late 1980s it was decided to revive the Portland Carnival Procession but it didn't last long. Above we see Doris Eastwood leading civic dignitaries into Easton Square followed by a magnificent steam engine owned by Peter Wallis of Gypsy Lane on Portland.

Seeing the Town Criers gathered for this procession reminds me of the story related in the excellent booklet “It Could Only Happen On Portland” published by Artsmiths that the Portland Town Council once appointed a Town Crier who had such a terrible stutter that he could not finish even a simple sentence.

And then there was the Royal Observer Corps volunteer in World War 2 who was blind.

But I digress.

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The public apathy to this event is well indicated by the absence of spectators.

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Keywords Easton Fancy’s Garage Bottomcombe quarry TESCO Portland Dorset foundry close punchbowl inn easton methodist church