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Area North of Grove Road

Portland, Dorset

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

This area includes St Peter's Church in the bottom right-hand corner where The Grove bends sharply to the right as it makes its way to the Youth Offenders Institution (YOI).

Dominating the centre-right of the red square is the sports stadium made from an abandoned quarry whilst the YOI farm buildings are near the centre of the red square.

Near the top of the red square is the abandoned Independent and Admiralty quarries. Much of the stone from here went to build the Verne Citadel and the Portland Breakwater in Victorian times.

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On the bend of Grove Road is this old church building now used as a pre-school centre.

On the right is the Rufus Way estate which is built on a consolidated in-filled quarry - see below.

St Peter's Church dominates the area north of Grove Road.

Built for use of the prison, it was partly decorated by prisoners from Portland and Dorchester.

The stained glass windows are particularly attractive.

Beneath these is a polished cross which appears to show the form of Jesus crucified when the light catches it at the appropriate angle.

The pulpit in St Peter's Church.

The prison service is selling off the church but there are strict rules governing its development. Being a listed building it cannot be used for housing or commercial enterprises.

However, a proposal was made to use it as a casino!

Here we see the 'For sale' sign in place early in 2004.

For more pictures of this church please click here for modern pictures and here for an old picture.

A high walled road allows traffic to pass from Grove Road opposite the Clifton Inn to the top of the incline road which used to run down to the Naval Base.

Set in this wall is an old prison sentry box - a Scheduled Monument which, like the walls, cannot be damaged or removed.

Here is a vintage find on Portland - a manhole cover dated 1848. I'm not sure if I ought to reveal where this is in case it gets stolen by a collector (Do people collect manhole covers?)

It is within the red square above.  

To the north of St Peter's Church is a sports field set in a disused quarry. This is owned by the YOI but has been used in the past by local schools.

Old pictures of this stadium in use can be seen by clicking here.

Further north is this large limekiln - now dangerous and fenced off. It lies within Prison Service property and cannot be visited without permission.

A remarkable find was these ancient tramway wooden sleepers. They briefly appeared after heavy rain in 1989 and soon vanished again as a result of heavy lorry traffic. 

They were situated at grid reference SY69757285.

The narrow path in the centre of the picture leads towards St Peter's church whose spire can just be glimpsed above the trees on the left.

This old map shows the huge extent and complexity of the tramway lines that crisscrossed the prison quarries in Victorian times. These tracks were frequently moved so that the above map is no more than a snapshot of the layout at the date of the survey. For more details of the quarry tramways read Brian Jackson's excellent book "Isle of Portland Railways, Volume 1" published by the Oakwood Press in 1999.

In the bend of Grove Road, marked 'A' on this old map, was a quarry.

Please click here for an old picture showing the quarry that pre-dated the Rufus Way estate.

This was later filled in and houses built to form Rufus Way. I wonder how many of the present owners on this estate know that their houses are built on in-filled rubble? I have heard that soon after being built, two houses subsided so badly that they had to be virtually rebuilt!

On the flat ground at the back of St Peter's Church are these buildings. These were engine sheds for the cable-operated inclined railway that ran to Castletown through what was the Navy Dockyard but is now Portland Port.


These buildings have been badly vandalised and little attempt has ever been made to preserve them. 

However, Portland Gas Storage Limited has applied for planning permission (2007) to renovate this building and use it as an Interpretation Centre for the local area which is excellent news. See http://www.portland-gas.com/ for more information and click here to read the Dorset Echo account of the scheme for the engine sheds.

At the back of the old engine shed a door has been bricked up but - predictably - soon afterwards smashed down so that vandals can climb in and wreck the inside of the shed.

I'm holding a length of tramway abandoned near here. This was part of the extensive Victorian railway network that covered these quarries.


Close to the old engine sheds is this derelict area which, in 1990 when this photograph was taken, was used by the Portland Dog Training Club - hence the barrier, warning sign and caravan - now all gone.

In the top left-hand corner of the aerial photograph above are the huge Waycroft and Independent Quarries. The picture below is a panoramic view of the latter which is still a working quarry.

No, there were NOT two JCB diggers - that's a trick of the way many photographs have been combined into one panorama!

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