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The Grove Area

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69572009This area covers part of The Grove (also known as Grove Road) and the housing estate on its southern side.

Until the prison was built this area was virtually uninhabited and known as Grove Fields. The road was built to service the prison and it was from this date that the houses started to be built and the area became residential.

To the north of Grove Road used to be extensive quarries and Victorian tourists would travel from as far as London to sit in the upstairs rooms of houses in The Grove and, for six pence, enjoy tea, cakes and watching the convicts working.

That's probably why there were once no fewer than six pubs in The Grove.

To the south of Grove Road is one of the most extensive cave systems on the Isle.

The Clifton Hotel is at point ‘A’ and, in the same immediate location are the abandoned shop and Post Office as well as the closed Catholic Church.

At ‘B’ is a row of flats which replaced houses in Augusta Road destroyed by Luftwaffe bombing in World War 2. There were four deaths and a miraculous escape by baby Gerald Harding.

At ‘C’ is the Rufus Way estate which is built on an old infilled quarry.

Finally, at ‘D’ is one of the most extensive cave systems on Portland.

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Please use this table to navigate around this page

A

THE CLIFTON HOTEL

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A

THE ABANDONED POST OFFICE

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A

THE CLOSED CATHOLIC CHURCH

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B

AUGUSTA ROAD BOMBING DEATHS

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B

A CLOSED SHOP

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C

RUFUS WAY ESTATE

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D

LITTLE FRANCE QUARRY AND CAVE SYSTEM

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THE CLIFTON HOTEL

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The Clifton Hotel photographed in 2003

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Photographed in 2003 this was part of a carnival float decoration. It has since been removed.

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The local water supply came from this pump which survives in the grounds of The Clifton Hotel.

THE ABANDONED POST OFFICE

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The closed general store and Post Office pictured in 2003 - a victim of dwindling demand and competition from shops and the Post Office at near-by Easton.

Renovation of this gutted propertry has been underway for a decade but there is no sign of an imminent reopening as a dwelling.

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The shop in 2015 showing the Catholic church next door and a view down Grove Road. Note that the telephone box has been boxed.

THE CLOSED CATHOLIC CHURCH

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There is a detailed article about this church and its history here. Briefly, it was built in 1868 to serve the large influx of Catholic workers who were arriving to staff the nearby prison and work on the construction of the Portland Breakwater, the Grove Prison and the Verne Citadel.

The church was declared redundant in 2008 due to falling number of Catholics in the area and the building was sold in 2011.

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2003

 

2015

One for Poirot? The Case of the Missing Statue?

AUGUSTA ROAD BOMBING DEATHS

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On April 12th 1941 a German bomb fell on houses on the right of Augusta Road seen in this picture. The row of terraced flats were later built to replace the bomb damaged houses.

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From The Dorset Echo 12th April 2015.

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Gerald Harding survived a bomb hit on his home in 14 Augusta Road near The Grove 12 April 1941. His mum Kathleen, his dad Frederick, his sister Rachel and Mr McIver the lodger were all killed. Gerald was brought up by Sarah White Burgess and her daughter Ann in Wyke Regis.

It was reported that Gerald escaped death because a large roof spar fell across his pram and protected him from the debris of the roof.

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Baby Rachel Harding killed by a German bomb 12th April 1941.

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Frederick Harding, father of Gerald and Rachel, who was killed in the Augusta Road bombing.

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Right front is Kathleen Burgess who later married Frederick Harding. Kathleen was killed in the Augusta Road bombing.

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Photo taken 18th February 1938 at Moorefield Road, Easton showing Kathleen Harding (nee Burgess) holding baby Rachel. Both were killed in the Augusta Road bombing.

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Gerald Harding (second from left) with his maternal grandfather Lt. Cdr. Joseph Mills Burgess on left.

A CLOSED SHOP

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This local shop on the corner of The Grove and Augusta Road closed in the late 1980s and is seen here being converted into a private house. Below we see the conversion completed.

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RUFUS WAY ESTATE

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The Rufus Way estate was built in the 1980s on a disused quarry which is shown in the above picture. It stands on the bend in Grove Road where the road heads south towards the YOI.

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The estate now stands to the left of the wall behind the prisoners in this old picture.

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This modern picture shows the estate. I rented a house on the estate in 1990 for a year.

LITTLE FRANCE QUARRY AND CAVE SYSTEM

The hole in the quarry wall seen below gives access to one of the largest cave systems on Portland. It is reputed to go at least 100 metres with several twists, turns and caverns.

I have not explored this system in part because the entrance is difficult to reach over the huge pile of domestic waste that has been illegally dumped in the quarry.

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The cave system entrance in about 1990.

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The cave system entrance barred in 2003. There is a detailed description of this cave here.

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Keywords Clifton Inn, Catholic Church, Augusta Road Bombing Deaths Gerald Harding Dorset