East Weares Rifle Range and Portland Waterworks

Portland, Dorset

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

Abandoned rifle ranges are at 'A' - huge ramps of earth and stone.

An abandoned waterworks building 'B' existed in Victorian times. The foundations are now overgrown by brambles.

Folly Pier 'C' is an abandoned stone quay once used for stone exports.

The track running through the red square, marked by red dots, is the route of the old Weymouth  to Easton railway line.

At the back of the YOI is a large flat area 'D', now fenced off, which once held rows of houses for prison officers.

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One of many limekilns still surviving on Portland.

This one is at the east of the YOI at the cliff edge.

It is now enclosed and hidden behind a high steel fence.

Behind this high steel fence is the Youth Offenders Institute and is shown by the 'D' in the above aerial photograph.

The area behind this fence used to be an estate of terraced houses occupied by the prison warders.

The roads had names after local beauty spots like Lulworth Street, Purbeck Terrace, Ringstead Road, Abbotsbury Street, etc. These names were in sharp contrast to the houses' squalor!

Please click here to see a picture of this estate.



The rifle ranges - a huge construction of rock, earth and stone. Long abandoned, these remind us of the Victorian past when the military would train its sharpshooters at this point. Another view in October 2004 showing an abandoned telephone post which serviced the firing range. This close-up shows the system of pulleys and cables. Hidden away is this derelict building with a mechanism which presumably raised and lowered targets.


Inevitably, this being overwhelmed by bushes and weeds. 

An abandoned sentry post where bored lookouts warned off inquisitive walkers when shooting was underway..

An apple tree growing rather forlornly in 1989 in the wild area beneath the cliffs east of the YOI.

Presumably this tree has grown from an apple core thrown away by the visitor walking through this area many years ago.



One of many piers built in the 18th and 19th century to transport stone by sea from the island.

The above left picture is from 1990 and the above right from 2007.

A jumble of rocks reaching out to sea near Folly Pier.

Was this once part of a landing stage for fishermen's boats or a loading jetty for stone?

A view of Folly Pier.

This derelict stonework lies at the coast below the YOI.



The old picture is reproduced by kind permission of Stuart Morris from his book "Portland - A Portland Camera"  - see links for publication details.

Beneath this tangle of brambles lie a few low broken stone foundations and walls. Even few Portlanders know what these smothered ruins once were. The remarkable photograph above right shows a huge waterworks that existed in Victorian times between the railway track and the sea below the YOI. This was closed due to an outbreak of typhoid which killed several prisoners who drank the water. All that now remains are the foundations of the building which are wholly overgrown.

However, in 1989 my children helped me, with the add of shears and knives, to cut away enough of the brambles to be able to trace the foundations. Please click here to see a close-up image from space of the area where this building once stood.

Above left we see the reservoirs for the old water works which can still be seen almost overgrown by brambles in 1990 - above left. Borstal boys used to swim here despite the risk of Typhoid.

Above right we see the old reservoir in 2003 gradually being overwhelmed by brambles. 

...and here is that same reservoir in 1989 being explored by a group of my friends.

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