Weymouth, Dorset

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Weymouth
Uk dor portharbour.JPG
Weymouth, Wyke Regis and Portland Harbour from the Isle of Portland
Dorset UK location map.svg
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Weymouth
Location within Dorset
Population52,323  [1] [A]
OS grid reference SY6779
  London 195 km (120 mi)  ENE
Unitary authority
Shire county
Region
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town WEYMOUTH
Postcode district DT3, DT4
Dialling code 01305
Police Dorset
Fire Dorset and Wiltshire
Ambulance South Western
EU Parliament South West England
UK Parliament
List of places
UK
England
Dorset
50°36′47″N2°27′25″W / 50.613°N 2.457°W / 50.613; -2.457 Coordinates: 50°36′47″N2°27′25″W / 50.613°N 2.457°W / 50.613; -2.457

Weymouth /ˈwməθ/ is a seaside town in Dorset, England, situated on a sheltered bay at the mouth of the River Wey on the English Channel coast. The town is 11 kilometres (7 mi) south of Dorchester and 8 kilometres (5 mi) north of the Isle of Portland. The town's population is 52,323 (2011). Weymouth has a metropolitan population of 71,083 (2016). [2] The town is the third largest settlement in Dorset after Bournemouth and Poole. [3]

Dorset County of England

Dorset is a county in South West England on the English Channel coast. The ceremonial county comprises the unitary authority areas of Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole and Dorset. Covering an area of 2,653 square kilometres (1,024 sq mi), Dorset borders Devon to the west, Somerset to the north-west, Wiltshire to the north-east, and Hampshire to the east. The county town is Dorchester which is in the south. After the reorganisation of local government in 1974 the county's border was extended eastward to incorporate the Hampshire towns of Bournemouth and Christchurch. Around half of the population lives in the South East Dorset conurbation, while the rest of the county is largely rural with a low population density.

River Wey, Dorset river in Dorset, United Kingdom

The River Wey is a chalk stream flowing through Dorset in south west England.

English Channel Arm of the Atlantic Ocean that separates southern England from northern France

The English Channel, also called simply the Channel, is the body of water that separates Southern England from northern France and links the southern part of the North Sea to the Atlantic Ocean. It is the busiest shipping area in the world.

Contents

Weymouth is a tourist resort, and its economy depends on its harbour and visitor attractions; the town is a gateway situated halfway along the Jurassic Coast, a World Heritage Site on the Dorset and east Devon coast, important for its geology and landforms. Weymouth Harbour has included cross-channel ferries, and is home to pleasure boats and private yachts, and nearby Portland Harbour is home to the Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy, where the sailing events of the 2012 Olympic Games and Paralympic Games were held.

A seaside resort is a resort town or resort village, or resort hotel, located on the coast. Sometimes it is also an officially accredited title, that is only awarded to a town when the requirements are met. Where a beach is the primary focus for tourists, it may be called a beach resort.

Weymouth Harbour, Dorset

Weymouth Harbour is a picturesque harbour at the seaside town of Weymouth in Dorset, southern England. It has a 17th-century waterfront.

Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site on the coast of southern England

The Jurassic Coast is a World Heritage Site on the English Channel coast of southern England. It stretches from Exmouth in East Devon to Studland Bay in Dorset, a distance of about 96 miles (154 km), and was inscribed on the World Heritage List in mid-December 2001.

The A354 road bridge connects Weymouth to Portland, which together form the borough of Weymouth and Portland. The history of the borough stretches back to the 12th century; including involvement in the spread of the Black Death, the settlement of the Americas, the development of Georgian architecture, and a major departure point for the Normandy Landings.

A354 road road in England

The A354 is a primary route in England which runs from Salisbury in Wiltshire to Easton on the Isle of Portland in Dorset, a total distance of 51 miles (82 km). From Salisbury the road crosses Cranborne Chase and briefly merges with the A350 at the Blandford Forum bypass before crossing the Dorset Downs and merging with the A35 at the Puddletown bypass. 7 miles (11 km) to the west it splits from the Dorchester bypass and runs south. The road now bypasses Upwey and Broadwey on a new section of road which has some 2 lane sections going north and 1 lane continuously going south towards Weymouth. After the old and new sections meet at Manor Roundabout the road follows down Weymouth Way alongside Radipole Lake. The final stretch runs across a short bridge over Chesil beach onto Portland.

Weymouth and Portland Borough & Non-metropolitan district in England

Weymouth and Portland was a local government district and borough in Dorset, England. It consisted of the resort of Weymouth and the Isle of Portland, and includes the areas of Wyke Regis, Preston, Melcombe Regis, Upwey, Broadwey, Southill, Nottington, Westham, Radipole, Chiswell, Castletown, Fortuneswell, Weston, Southwell and Easton; the latter six being on the Isle of Portland.

Black Death Pandemic in Eurasia in the 1300s

The Black Death, also known as the Great Plague or the Plague, or less commonly the Black Plague, was one of the most devastating pandemics in human history, resulting in the deaths of an estimated 75 to 200 million people in Eurasia and peaking in Europe from 1347 to 1351. The bacterium Yersinia pestis, which results in several forms of plague, is believed to have been the cause. The Black Death was the first major European outbreak of plague, and the second plague pandemic. The plague created a number of religious, social and economic upheavals which had profound effects on the course of European history.

History

Weymouth originated as a settlement on a constricted site to the south and west of Weymouth Harbour, an outlying part of Wyke Regis. The town developed from the mid 12th century onwards, but was not noted until the 13th century. By 1252 it was established as a seaport and became a chartered borough. Melcombe Regis developed separately on the peninsula to the north of the harbour; it was mentioned as a licensed wool port in 1310. French raiders found the port so accessible that in 1433 the staple was transferred to Poole.

Wyke Regis village in United Kingdom

Wyke Regis is a village in south Dorset, England. The village is part of the south western suburbs of Weymouth, on the northern shore of Portland Harbour and the south-eastern end of Chesil Beach. Wyke is 15 kilometres (9 mi) south of the county town, Dorchester. The village has a population of around 5,500.

Borough An administrative division in some English-speaking countries

A borough is an administrative division in various English-speaking countries. In principle, the term borough designates a self-governing walled town, although in practice, official use of the term varies widely.

Melcombe Regis human settlement in United Kingdom

Melcombe Regis is an area of Weymouth in Dorset, England.

Melcombe Regis is thought to be the first port at which the Black Death came into England in June 1348, possibly either aboard a spice ship or an army ship. In their early history Weymouth and Melcombe Regis were rivals for trade and industry, but the towns were united in an Act of Parliament in 1571 to form a double borough. Both towns have become known as Weymouth, despite Melcombe Regis being the main centre. The villages of Upwey, Broadwey, Preston, Wyke Regis, Chickerell, Southill, Radipole and Littlemoor have become part of the built-up area.

Weymouth and Melcombe Regis was a borough in England. It was formed by a charter of Elizabeth I, amalgamating the towns of Weymouth and Melcombe Regis in 1571.

An act of parliament, also called primary legislation, are statutes passed by a parliament (legislature). Act of the Oireachtas is an equivalent term used in the Republic of Ireland where the legislature is commonly known by its Irish name, Oireachtas. It is also comparable to an Act of Congress in the United States.

Upwey, Dorset village in Dorset, England, United Kingdom

Upwey is a suburb of Weymouth in south Dorset, England. The suburb is situated on the B3159 road in the Wey valley. The area was formerly a village until it was absorbed into the Weymouth built-up area. It is located four miles north of the town centre in the outer suburbs. During the Census 2001 the combined population of Upwey and neighbouring Broadwey was 4,349.

The ruins of the 16th-century Sandsfoot Castle Uk dor sandsfoot.jpg
The ruins of the 16th-century Sandsfoot Castle

King Henry VIII had two Device Forts built to protect the south Dorset coast from invasion in the 1530s: Sandsfoot Castle in Wyke Regis and Portland Castle in Castletown. Parts of Sandsfoot have fallen into the sea due to coastal erosion. During the English Civil War, around 250 people were killed in the local Crabchurch Conspiracy in February 1645.

Henry VIII of England 16th-century King of England

Henry VIII was King of England from 1509 until his death in 1547. Henry was the second Tudor monarch, succeeding his father, Henry VII. Henry is best known for his six marriages, in particular his efforts to have his first marriage, to Catherine of Aragon, annulled. His disagreement with the Pope on the question of such an annulment led Henry to initiate the English Reformation, separating the Church of England from papal authority. He appointed himself the Supreme Head of the Church of England and dissolved convents and monasteries, for which he was excommunicated. Henry is also known as "the father of the Royal Navy"; he invested heavily in the Navy, increasing its size greatly from a few to more than 50 ships.

Device Forts artillery fortifications built to defend the southern coast of England by Henry VIII

The Device Forts, also known as Henrician castles and blockhouses, were a series of artillery fortifications built to defend the coast of England and Wales by Henry VIII. Traditionally, the Crown had left coastal defences in the hands of local lords and communities but the threat of French and Spanish invasion led the King to issue an order, called a "device", for a major programme of work between 1539 and 1547. The fortifications ranged from large stone castles positioned to protect the Downs anchorage in Kent, to small blockhouses overlooking the entrance to Milford Haven in Pembrokeshire, and earthwork bulwarks along the Essex coast. Some forts operated independently, others were designed to be mutually reinforcing. The Device programme was hugely expensive, costing a total of £376,000 ; much of this was raised from the proceeds of the Dissolution of the Monasteries a few years before.

Sandsfoot Castle castle

Sandsfoot Castle, also known historically as Weymouth Castle, is an artillery fort constructed by Henry VIII near Weymouth, Dorset. It formed part of the King's Device programme to protect against invasion from France and the Holy Roman Empire, and defended the Weymouth Bay anchorage. The stone castle had an octagonal gun platform, linked to a residential blockhouse, and was completed by 1542 at a cost of £3,887. Earthwork defences were built around the landward side of the castle, probably in 1623. Sandsfoot saw service during the English Civil War, when it was held by Parliament and Royalists in turn during the conflict. It survived the interregnum but, following Charles II's restoration to the throne, the fortress was withdrawn from military use in 1665.

In 1635, on board the ship Charity, around 100 emigrants from the town crossed the Atlantic Ocean and settled in Weymouth, Massachusetts. [4] More townspeople emigrated to the Americas to bolster the population of Weymouth, Nova Scotia and Salem, Massachusetts; then called Naumking. [5] There are memorials to this on the side of Weymouth Harbour and near to Weymouth Pavilion and Weymouth Sea Life Tower.

The architect Sir Christopher Wren was the Member of Parliament for Weymouth in 1702, and controlled nearby Portland's quarries from 1675 to 1717. When he designed St Paul's Cathedral, Wren had it built out of Portland Stone, the famous stone of Portland's quarries. [6] Sir James Thornhill was born in the White Hart public house in Melcombe Regis and became the town's MP in 1722. Thornhill became an artist, and coincidentally decorated the interior of St Paul's Cathedral. [7]

Weymouth's esplanade displays Georgian architecture and Queen Victoria's Jubilee Clock. Weymouth Seafront.jpg
Weymouth's esplanade displays Georgian architecture and Queen Victoria's Jubilee Clock.

The resort is among the first modern tourist destinations, after King George III's brother the Duke of Gloucester built a grand residence there, Gloucester Lodge, and passed the mild winter there in 1780; [8] the King made Weymouth his summer holiday residence on fourteen occasions between 1789 and 1805, [9] even venturing into the sea in a bathing machine. A painted statue of the King stands on the seafront, called the King's Statue, which was renovated in 2007/8 by stripping 20 layers of paintwork, replacing it with new paints and gold leaf, and replacing the iron framework with a stainless steel one. [10] A mounted white horse representing the King is carved into the chalk hills of Osmington.

Weymouth's esplanade is composed of Georgian terraces, which have been converted into apartments, shops, hotels and guest houses. [11] The buildings were constructed in the Georgian and Regency periods between 1770 and 1855, designed by architects such as James Hamilton, and were commissioned by wealthy businessmen, including those that were involved in the growth of Bath. [12] These terraces form a long, continuous arc of buildings which face Weymouth Bay along the esplanade. The earliest purpose-built hotel there was the first incarnation of the Royal Hotel. [13] The esplanade features the multi-coloured Jubilee Clock, erected in 1887 to mark the 50th year of Queen Victoria's reign. [14] Statues of Victoria, George III and Sir Henry Edwards, Member of Parliament for the borough from 1867 to 1885, and two war memorials stand along the Esplanade. [15]

US soldiers marched through Weymouth to board landing ships for the 1944 invasion of France. Soldiers-english-coast.jpg
US soldiers marched through Weymouth to board landing ships for the 1944 invasion of France.

In the centre of the town lies Weymouth Harbour; although it was the reason for the town's foundation, the harbour separates the two areas of Melcombe Regis (the main town centre) and Weymouth (the southern harbourside) from each other. Since the 18th century they have been linked by successive bridges over the narrowest part of the harbour. The present Town Bridge, built in 1930, is a lifting bascule bridge allowing boats to access the inner harbour. [16] The Royal National Lifeboat Institution stationed a lifeboat at Weymouth for the first time on 26 January 1869. A boathouse was built with a slipway by the harbour and is still in use, although the lifeboat is now moored at a pontoon. [17]

During World War I, approximately 120,000 ANZAC personnel convalesced in Weymouth after being injured at Gallipoli or other theatres of the war. [18] Weymouth and Portland were bombed by German planes in World War II; [19] Portland harbour had a large naval base, and Weymouth was home to Nothe Fort, next to Nothe Gardens. Weymouth lost 76 civilian lives in the town through enemy action. [20] The Bouncing bomb was tested in the Fleet lagoon to the west of town. [21] 517,816 troops embarked through the borough to fight at the Battle of Normandy. The history of the area was documented at the Timewalk museum in Brewers Quay. [11] [22]

Governance

The district of Weymouth and Portland was formed on 1 April 1974 under the Local Government Act 1972, and merged the borough of Weymouth and Melcombe Regis and the nearby Portland urban district. Following the local government reforms on 1 April 2019, the district was abolished, and Weymouth is now administered by Dorset Council at the highest tier, and Weymouth Town Council (successor to the district council) at the lowest tier.

Weymouth, Portland and the Purbeck district are in the South Dorset parliamentary constituency, created in 1885. The constituency elects one Member of Parliament; currently Richard Drax (Conservative).

For European Parliament elections, South Dorset, the rest of South West England, and Gibraltar form the South West England constituency.

Dorset South was the most marginal Labour seat in the 2001 general election, won by 153 votes. [23] [24] Jim Knight was expecting to have a difficult 2005 election, yet he won with a margin of 1,812 votes—this was in contrast to other areas, where Labour suffered a decline in popularity. [23] This was helped by a high-profile anti-Conservative campaign by musician Billy Bragg. [25] The seat was gained from Labour by Drax for the Conservatives at the 2010 General Election.

Weymouth and Portland have been twinned with the town of Holzwickede in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany since 1986, [26] and the French town of Louviers, in the department of Eure in Normandy, since 1959. [27]

Geography

Weymouth is built on weak sand and clay rock which in most places along the Dorset coast, except for narrow bands at Lulworth Cove, Swanage and Durdle Door, has been eroded and transported away. [28] This weak rock has been protected at Weymouth by Chesil Beach and the strong limestone Isle of Portland that lies offshore, 3 kilometres (2 mi) south of Wyke Regis. The island affects the tides of the area, producing a double low tide in Weymouth Bay and Portland Harbour. [29] [30] The maximum tidal range is small, at around 2 metres (7 ft). [30]

There are two lakes in the borough, both RSPB Nature ReservesRadipole Lake in the town centre, and Lodmoor between the town centre and Preston. Radipole Lake, the largest nature reserve, and mouth of the River Wey before it flows into Weymouth Harbour, is an important habitat for fish and migratory birds, and over 200 species of plants. Radipole is an important tourist attraction; it and Weymouth Beach are situated very close to the main town centre. [31] There are 11 Sites of Special Scientific Interest in the borough, which cover an area of 800.87 hectares (1,979 acres), and there are 37 other Nature Conservation Designations. [32]

Situated approximately halfway along the Jurassic Coast, Weymouth is a gateway town to the UNESCO World Heritage Site, which includes 155 kilometres (96 mi) of the Dorset and east Devon coast that is important for its geology and landforms. [11] The South West Coast Path has two routes around Weymouth and Portland—one around its coast, and one along the South Dorset Downs, which reduces the path's length by 31.0 kilometres (19.3 mi). The path is the United Kingdom's longest national trail, at 1,014 kilometres (630 mi). [33]

Radipole Lake is a nature reserve close to the town centre. Uk dor radipole.JPG
Radipole Lake is a nature reserve close to the town centre.

Weymouth is the largest town in the area, larger than the county town of Dorchester, which lies just to the north, and hence is a centre of activity for the nearby population. A steep ridge of chalk called the South Dorset Downs, locally known as The Ridgeway, separates Dorchester and Weymouth; they are less agricultural than the valleys in the centre and north of Dorset, but have dairy and arable farms. The nearest villages to Weymouth are part of the built-up area, including Wyke Regis, Chickerell and Preston.

The sand and clay on which Weymouth is built is very low-lying—large areas are below sea level, which allowed the eastern areas of the town to flood during extreme low pressure storms. [34] In the 1980s and 1990s a sea wall was built around Weymouth Harbour and along the coast road in Preston; a rip rap groyne in Greenhill and beach nourishment up to Preston have created a wide and artificially graded pebble beach, to ensure that the low-lying land around Lodmoor does not flood. [35] The defences at Preston, the extended ferry terminal and the widening of the Esplanade have changed the sediment regime in Weymouth Bay, narrowing the beach at Greenhill and widening the sands in Weymouth. A study conducted as part of the redevelopment of the Pavilion complex showed that the proposed marina will contribute slightly to this effect, but sand dredged out of the marina could be used to make the beach up to 40 metres (130 ft) wider. [36]

Climate

Climatic ergograph for Weymouth. Sea temperatures (light blue line) remain mild in winter and warm slowly in spring, helping to produce a seasonal lag of 1-2 months. Weymouth Climatic Graph.png
Climatic ergograph for Weymouth. Sea temperatures (light blue line) remain mild in winter and warm slowly in spring, helping to produce a seasonal lag of 12 months.

Due to its location on the south-west coast of England, Weymouth has a temperate climate (Köppen climate classification Cfb), with a small variation in daily and annual temperatures. The average annual mean temperature from 1981 to 2010 was 11.2 °C (52.2 °F). [37] The warmest month is August, which has an average temperature range of 14.1 to 20.1 °C (57.4 to 68.2 °F), and the coolest is February, which has a range of 3.7 to 8.4 °C (38.7 to 47.1 °F). [37] Maximum and minimum temperatures throughout the year are above England's average, [38] and Weymouth is in AHS Heat zone 1. [B] Mean sea surface temperatures range from 7.0 °C (44.6 °F) in February to 17.2 °C (63.0 °F) in August; the annual mean is 11.8 °C (53.2 °F). [39]

Climate data for Weymouth
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDecYear
Average high °C (°F)8.6
(47.5)
8.4
(47.1)
10.2
(50.4)
12.3
(54.1)
15.3
(59.5)
17.7
(63.9)
19.7
(67.5)
20.1
(68.2)
18.4
(65.1)
15.2
(59.4)
11.8
(53.2)
9.2
(48.6)
13.9
(57.0)
Daily mean °C (°F)6.4
(43.5)
6.1
(43.0)
7.6
(45.7)
9.3
(48.7)
12.2
(54.0)
14.7
(58.5)
16.8
(62.2)
17.1
(62.8)
15.5
(59.9)
12.7
(54.9)
9.5
(49.1)
6.9
(44.4)
11.2
(52.2)
Average low °C (°F)4.1
(39.4)
3.7
(38.7)
4.9
(40.8)
6.2
(43.2)
9.1
(48.4)
11.7
(53.1)
13.9
(57.0)
14.1
(57.4)
12.5
(54.5)
10.2
(50.4)
7.2
(45.0)
4.6
(40.3)
8.5
(47.3)
Average rainfall mm (inches)78.5
(3.09)
58.3
(2.30)
58.0
(2.28)
49.4
(1.94)
44.7
(1.76)
40.2
(1.58)
35.9
(1.41)
50.0
(1.97)
55.8
(2.20)
85.3
(3.36)
88.7
(3.49)
85.5
(3.37)
730.3
(28.75)
Average rainy days (≥ 1 mm)13.09.99.48.38.47.06.67.57.911.512.412.4113.9
Mean monthly sunshine hours 66.891.1133.6200.3228.5229.1243.6227.7175.5126.384.362.91,869.8
Source: 19812010 averages for Wyke Regis climate station. Sources: Met Office [40] and Cefas [39]

The low-lying nature of the area, and the ameliorating effect of the lakes and mild seas that surround the town, act to keep night-time temperatures above freezing for much of the winter, though frosts are recorded. [41] [42] The lowest temperature of −9.8 °C (14.4 °F) was recorded on 13 January 1987. [43] Days with snow lying are equally rare: on average zero to six days per year; [44] almost all winters have one day or less with snow lying. It may snow or sleet in winter, yet it rarely settles on the ground; low-lying coastal areas on the South Coast of England such as Weymouth experience milder winters than the rest of the United Kingdom. [45] The growing season in Weymouth lasts for more than 310 days per year, [46] [D] and the borough is in Hardiness zone 9b. [47] [E]

Weymouth and Portland has one of the sunniest climates in the United Kingdom, along with many south coast towns. [11] [48] [49] The resort averaged 1869.8 hours of sunshine annually between 1981 and 2010, [37] which is 43% of the maximum possible, [C] and 40% above the United Kingdom average of 1339.7 hours. [42] December is the cloudiest month (62.9 hours of sunshine), November the wettest (88.7 millimetres (3.5 in) of rain) and July is the sunniest and driest month (243.6 hours of sunshine, 35.9 millimetres (1.4 in) of rain). [37] Sunshine totals in all months are well above the United Kingdom average, [42] and monthly rainfall totals throughout the year are less than the UK average, particularly in summer; [42] this summer minimum of rainfall is not experienced away from the south coast of England. [48] The average annual rainfall of 730.3 millimetres (28.8 in) is well below the UK average of 1,125 millimetres (44.3 in). [42]

Demography

Religion% [50] [F]
Buddhist 0.4
Christian61.0
Hindu 0.1
Jewish 0.1
Muslim 0.5
No religion 29.3
Other 0.7
Sikh 0.1
Not stated7.9
AgePercentage [1]
0–1718.6
18–2912.5
30–5937.9
60–8427.4
85+3.3
YearPopulation [1]
197142,370
198145,090
199148,350
200150,920
201152,323 [A]

The mid-year population of Weymouth in 2011 was 52,323, [A] in a built-up area of 18.5 square kilometres (4,600 acres), giving an approximate population density of 2,800 residents per square kilometre (11 per acre), in 25,174 dwellings. [1] The population has grown steadily since the 1970s, mainly as a result of migration. There is an above average number of residents aged 60–84 (27.4%), however this is less than the Dorset average of 30.2%, and the proportion of the population between 18 and 59 is also above the Dorset average. [1] The population is largely native to England—94.9% of residents are White British, slightly below the Dorset average of 95.5%, and well above the England and Wales average of 80.5%. [50] The most common religious identity in Weymouth and Portland is Christianity, at 61.0%, which is slightly above the England and Wales average of 59.3%. [50] The next-largest sector is those with no religion, at 29.3%, slightly above the average of 25.1%. [50]

House prices in Weymouth and Portland are relatively high by UK standards, yet around average for the south of England—the average price of a detached house in 2010 was £303,622; semi-detached and terraced houses were cheaper, at £204,647 and £203,207 respectively, and an apartment or maisonette cost £155,056. [1] [G] The crime rate in Weymouth of 7.6 burglaries per 1000 households is lower than that of England and Wales (11.6 per 1000), but above that of Dorset (3.6 per 1000). [1] Unemployment levels are low, particularly in summer, at 2.5% of the economically active population in July 2011, [1] compared to the UK average of 7.7%. [51]

Economy

Weymouth Beach attracts thousands of visitors in summer. Weymouth beach.jpg
Weymouth Beach attracts thousands of visitors in summer.

Tourism has been the largest industry in Weymouth for decades, though the number of people employed in the sector has declined slightly since its peak in the late 1990s. [52] Weymouth's coast and beaches, lakes, museums, aquarium, and two shopping centres are the main attractions for visitors. The visitor accommodation consists of hotels on the seafront, guest houses around the town centre, [11] and caravan and camping sites just out of town, including three sites owned by Haven and British Holidays: Littlesea, Seaview and Weymouth Bay. [53]

There are over two hundred events held throughout the year in the borough, [54] including firework festivals, dragon boat racing, beach volleyball, [55] handball [56] and motocross, [57] and the annual carnival in mid-August, which attracts around 70,000 people each year. [11] [54] Weymouth is the only port in the world to have hosted the start of The Tall Ships' Races three times [58] —in 1983, 1987 and 1994; the 1994 race attracting 300,000 spectators. [59]

Nothe Fort is one of the maritime-related museums in the town. 050706 005 dorset nothe.jpg
Nothe Fort is one of the maritime-related museums in the town.

The Pavilion Theatre was built in 1960 on a peninsula of reclaimed land between the harbour and the esplanade, after the Ritz Theatre was destroyed by fire in 1954. [60] The Pavilion was owned and operated by Weymouth and Portland Borough Council, providing a venue for local community groups and schools, and hosting seasonal 'end-of-the-pier' entertainment and year-round shows and events. It was announced in 2006 that the Pavilion complex and 4 hectares (10 acres) of its surroundings would be entirely redeveloped from 2008 to 2011, in time for the 2012 Summer Olympics. The proposed complex was to include a refurbished theatre, a World Heritage Site visitors' centre, a new ferry terminal, a 140-bed 4-star hotel, an underground car park, a shopping arcade, offices, around 340 luxury apartments, 110 affordable homes, public squares, promenades, and a 290-berth marina. [61] Delays to the project mean it was unlikely to be completed in time for the 2012 Summer Olympics [62] and the redevelopment never took place. In November 2012 Weymouth and Portland Borough Council announced the intended closure and demolition of the theatre, with the site closing on 31 May 2013. Following a formal tender process the theatre was leased to local businessman Phil Say and reopened on 13 July 2013. Weymouth Pavilion is now operated by Weymouth Pavilion CIC as a not-for-profit organisation. [63]

As part of the regeneration of Weymouth and Portland, it was decided in 2007 that Weymouth's esplanade will be redeveloped in time for the 2012 Olympic Games. Planned improvements include a public square around the restored statue of King George III, the restoration and extension the Art Deco pier bandstand, a Tourist information centre and café, Victorian-style shelters and seasonal kiosks, a beach rescue centre, and a sand art pavilion for the sculptures of Mark Anderson. [64] Other alterations to the promenade were made, particularly around key areas such as the Jubilee Clock and the pier bandstand, with the introduction of new cafes and bars that connect the promenade and beach using innovative design, shaped like an upturned boat, also including a lighting scheme and seating areas with planting, fountains and trees. [64] [65] A 2010 council report said there are "venues with an emphasis on an alcohol-led night out. While these uses area positive attribute to the town, popular with both residents and visitors, they are also closely linked to a well-documented crime and disorder problem in the town centre." [66]

Weymouth's outer harbour hosts a large fishing fleet. Weymouth Harbour 2005 from the south side showing The George Inn.jpg
Weymouth's outer harbour hosts a large fishing fleet.

Weymouth Harbour is long and narrow, and formed the estuary of the River Wey until the building of a bridge to Westham, which separated the harbour's backwaters from Radipole Lake. For centuries the harbour was a passenger terminal and trade and cargo port: goods handled included wool and spices, and in the 20th century Weymouth was a bulk importer of fertiliser and cars. The old harbourside, on both sides of the seaward end of the harbour, still hosts a fishing fleet, with docks, unloading areas, and a cross-channel ferry terminal. Fishing and cargo trading employ fewer people in the area since their peak in earlier centuries, but local fishermen catch the largest mass of fish in England and the third largest in the United Kingdom. [58] The inner harbour has been refurbished in two phases, in 1994–1996 and in 2002, to include a new marina with hundreds of berths for pleasure boats, cruisers and sailing boats. [58] Local boats offer fishing and diving trips, pleasure cruises along the Jurassic Coast, and thrill-rides to the Isle of Portland. [67]

Brewers Quay museum and shopping centre on the harbourside Brewers Quay Weymouth.jpg
Brewers Quay museum and shopping centre on the harbourside

The main shopping centre in the area is in Melcombe Regis, consisting of two pedestrianised streets (St. Thomas's and St. Mary's Street), shops along the esplanade, and a new precinct stretching from St. Thomas's Street to the harbourside, built in the 1990s. There are shops and restaurants in the pedestrianised Hope Square and Brewers Quay, which are linked to the town centre by town bridge and a small passenger ferry service across the harbour. [11] In 2005 the town centre had 292 shops and 37,500 square metres (404,000 sq ft) of floorspace, and there was 0.4 square kilometres (100 acres) of industrial estate in the area. [1] The shopping catchment area, which extends for approximately 3 miles towards the north and seven miles east and west, has a population of 71,700 (mid-2001). [1] Weymouth, Portland and Chickerell have been a Fairtrade Zone since 2007. [68] Fashion company New Look has its global headquarters in Weymouth, and until 2005 the company's regional distribution centre was based at the same site. [69] Plans were approved in 2007 to develop the New Look site to include new headquarters, retail warehouses and industrial units, a hotel, fire station, and a medical centre with ambulance station. [70]

In May 2013 local businesses voted in favour of creating the Weymouth Business Improvement District (BID). Like other BIDs located around the UK, it is a business-led initiative supported by Government legislation that enables the local businesses to raise funding to improve the trading environment. [71]

Transport

The Weymouth Harbour Tramway or Quay Branch Tramway near Ferrys corner.jpg
The Weymouth Harbour Tramway or Quay Branch

Weymouth railway station is the terminus of a route from London Waterloo and of a route from Westbury and Bristol. There used to be a station to handle summer tourist traffic, but this traffic declined and it was demolished in 1986. A smaller station took up part of the site, and the rest was given over to commercial development. Part of the South West Main Line from west of Moreton to east of Dorchester South has been reduced from dual to single track. Local councils lobbied the Department for Transport, in connection with the 2012 Olympic Games, to relay the double track and increase services. [72] Services to London Waterloo began running every 30 minutes from December 2007, but services through Bristol to Cardiff were reduced. [73]

An unusual feature of the railways in Weymouth was that until 1987 main-line trains ran through the streets and along the Weymouth Harbour Tramway to the Quay station at the eastern end of the harbour, to connect with ferries to mainland Europe. Due to declining business, goods traffic ceased in 1972, but passenger services continued until they ceased in 1987 from lack of use. [74] Weymouth was part of the CrossCountry network until Virgin CrossCountry withdrew its summer Saturdays only services from Birmingham and beyond in September 2001. [75] They were briefly reinstated by Arriva CrossCountry during the 2012 Olympic Games. [76]

Local bus services are run by First Hampshire & Dorset, which bought the local Southern National company. Buses run from Weymouth to the Isle of Portland, Dorchester, Bournemouth, Wool, Beaminster, Axminster, and to other villages and the town's holiday parks. [77] Weymouth is connected to towns and villages along the Jurassic Coast by route X53, which runs for 142 kilometres (88 mi) from Exeter to Poole, through Sidford, Beer, Seaton, Lyme Regis, Charmouth, Bridport, Abbotsbury, Weymouth, Wool, and Wareham. This service is convenient for walkers who can ride the bus to connect with the South West Coast Path for a walk along the coast. [11] [78]

The A354 and A353 roads, Condor Ferries, and the South Western and Heart of Wessex lines link to Weymouth. Dorset transport.png
The A354 and A353 roads, Condor Ferries, and the South Western and Heart of Wessex lines link to Weymouth.

The A354 road connects the town to the A35 trunk road in Dorchester, and terminates at Easton on the Isle of Portland. The A353 road runs east from Weymouth to the south of Warmwell, where it connects with the A352 to the Isle of Purbeck and Wareham. The B3157 road runs west from Weymouth to the south of Bridport where it terminates and connects to the A35. In the 1980s the town centre was bypassed by the A354 to Portland, but the government's road building policy changed before a proposed relief road could be completed. Before completion of the relief road, the A354 followed its original route through Upwey and Broadwey, where traffic problems were common at peak tourist times, particularly on event days such as the carnival. [79]

The relief road's construction was delayed by opposition from residents and environmental groups, including Transport 2000 and the Campaign to Protect Rural England, who objected to the route's partial destruction of a nature reserve, which is an AONB and SSSI. [80] With Weymouth and Portland scheduled to host 2012 Olympic sailing events the project reopened; the local authorities favouring a more environmentally friendly proposal than in the 1990s. [79] On 5 April 2007, Dorset County Council granted planning permission for a modified proposal including a single carriageway running 7 kilometres (4 mi) north, and a 1000-space park-and-ride scheme, costing £84.5 million. [81] Work commenced in 2008; and was completed by mid-2011, in time for the 2012 Olympic sailing events. [81] During archaeological excavations carried out in advance of the relief road construction, a burial pit containing 51 dismembered skeletons of Viking men was discovered on Ridgeway Hill. [82]

Culture

Writers

Locations in Wessex, from The Wessex of Thomas Hardy by Bertram Windle, 1902, based on correspondence with Hardy. Wessex.png
Locations in Wessex, from The Wessex of Thomas Hardy by Bertram Windle, 1902, based on correspondence with Hardy.

Thomas Hardy lived and worked in Weymouth in 1869, and in 1871-2 lodging at 1 West Parade, now Park Street, returning to the Bockhampton cottage to complete Under the Greenwood Tree . Diggory Venn in Hardy's The Return of the Native describes the excitement of Weymouth, where "out of every ten folk you meet nine of ’em in love". Weymouth's Esplanade, the Gloucester Lodge Hotel and Old Rooms are featured in The Trumpet-Major (1880), renamed Budmouth in the 1895 edition, to bring the novel within fictional ‘Wessex’. Thomas Hardy walked on Chesil Beach many times, and it is featured in The Well-Beloved (1897). [83]

Joseph Drew wrote a historical novel The Poisoned Cup "a quaint tale of old Weymouth and Sandsfoot Castle" (1876), The Rival Queens, an account of the life of Mary Queen of Scots (1880), and several other popular works on religion, history and science.

The novelist John Cowper Powys's novel Weymouth Sands (1934) is set in Weymouth, where he "was more at home than anywhere else in the world". [84] Powys's paternal grandmother lived in Weymouth and the family lived in nearby Dorchester from 1880 to 1885. [85]

The novelist Gerald Basil Edwards spent the last years of his life in Weymouth. In nearby Upwey he met the art student Edward Chaney, who encouraged him to complete The Book of Ebenezer Le Page . [86]

Media

Westcountry Television and Meridian Broadcasting are the local ITV television franchises. Westcountry is received from the Stockland Hill transmitter or from one of its three relay transmitters in the town (Wyke Regis, Bincombe Hill and Preston). Meridian is received from the Rowridge transmitter. The local newspaper is the Dorset Echo . Weymouth was used as location to film The Boat That Rocked, alongside nearby Portland Harbour, [87] and Channel 4's Hugh's Fish Fight. [88] Dunkirk, the 2017 war movie, was partially based in Weymouth.

Education

Weymouth College of further education in Melcombe Regis Weymouthcollege.jpg
Weymouth College of further education in Melcombe Regis

The Chesil Education Partnership pyramid area operates in south Dorset, and includes three infant schools, two junior schools, fourteen primary schools, four secondary schools and two special schools. [1] 77.5% of Weymouth Town residents over 16 have qualifications, which is slightly below the Dorset average of 78.7%; about 20% of adult residents have higher qualifications (Level 4 +), which is lower than the Dorset average of 27%. [89]

There are three secondary schools in Weymouth—All Saints' Church of England School in Wyke Regis; Budmouth College in Chickerell; and Wey Valley School and Sports College in Broadwey. Wey Valley was added to the Government's Failing Schools list in 2007 as only 27% of the students achieved 5 A* to C passes. [90] The fourth secondary school in the Chesil Education Partnership is Royal Manor Arts College on the Isle of Portland. All Saints' has 921 students on roll, Budmouth has 1560 and Wey Valley 1171. [91] In 2006, 31% of students at Wey Valley, and 58% of students at All Saints' and Budmouth, attained five or more A* to C GCSEs including English and mathematics. [91]

Budmouth College also has a sixth form centre which had 296 students in 2006. [92] Weymouth College in Melcombe Regis is a further education college which has around 7,500 students from South West England and overseas, [93] about 1500 studying A-Level courses. [92] The college offers a wide range of practical and academic courses in many subjects, ranging from apprenticeship courses to full and part-time university level courses. The college is part of The University of Plymouth Colleges Network. [94] In 2006, Budmouth students received an average of 647.6 UCAS points, and Weymouth College students gained 614.1. [92] Some secondary and A-Level students commute to Dorchester to attend The Thomas Hardye School; in 2007, 79% of Hardye school students received five or more A* to C GCSEs, and 78% of all A-Level results were A to C grades. [95]

Sport and recreation

The beach volleyball classic is held on Weymouth beach every July. Beach Volleyball Classic 2007 (1443396807).jpg
The beach volleyball classic is held on Weymouth beach every July.

Weymouth's wide and shallow sandy beach is used for swimming and sunbathing during the tourist season, [11] and for beach sport events throughout the year, [54] including beach motocross, [57] the International handball championships [56] and the beach volleyball classic. [55] The international kite festival, held in May each year on Weymouth Beach, attracts around 40,000 spectators to the esplanade from around the world. [96]

Weymouth Cricket Club is sponsored by local business and runs in partnership with nearby schools. [97]

The local football club, Weymouth F.C. or 'the Terras', are outside the Football League but, in common with some other non-league clubs, they became professional in 2005. [98] The team enjoyed erratic success at their level; twice playing in the third round of the FA Cup, the highest club competition level. [98] At the end of the 2005–06 season the team became champions of the Conference South (the sixth level of English football) and moved up to the Conference National (the fifth level) for the first time since 1989. [99] However the club were relegated at the end of the 2008–09 and 2009–10 seasons and now play in the Southern League Premier Division (the seventh level). The Terras' ground is the Bob Lucas Stadium; its record attendance is 6,500 against Nottingham Forest in the FA Cup 2005–2006 season. [100]

The Wessex Stadium is out of town, but until 1987 the team played at a ground near the town centre, which is now an Asda supermarket. The club's move pre-dated the move to new out-of-town grounds by professional league clubs, and was the first football stadium opened in England in 32 years. [101] Motorcycle speedway racing was staged at the stadium from 1954 until the redevelopment; Weymouth's team was revived in 2003, and 'the Wildcats' race at a track adjacent to the stadium. [101] However, the club closed early in 2011, following disputes with the landlords owning the stadium. In 2005 a scheme was proposed to rebuild the Wessex Stadium to occupy a pitch-and-putt golf course, coincidentally with Asda building on the previous stadium site. Although the plans were to move by August 2007, the scheme was shelved before construction could begin. [102]

Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy Uk dor sailingacademy.JPG
Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy

On the shores of Portland Harbour, 3 kilometres (2 mi) south of Wyke Regis, is Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy, where the sailing events of the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games were based. [103] The main reason that the resort was chosen to be a 2012 Olympic venue was because the National Sailing Academy had only recently been built, so no new venue would have to be built. [103] However, as part of the South West of England Regional Development Agency's plans to redevelop Osprey Quay, in which the academy is built, a new 600-berth marina and an extension with more on-site facilities was built. [104] Weymouth and Portland were one of the first locations in the United Kingdom to finish building a venue for the Olympic Games, as construction started in October 2007 and finished at the end of 2008. [105]

The waters of Weymouth and Portland were credited by the Royal Yachting Association as the best in Northern Europe for sailing. [106] Local, national and international sailing events are regularly held in the bay; these include the J/24 World Championships in 2005, trials for the 2004 Athens Olympics, the ISAF World Championship 2006, the BUCS Fleet Racing Championships, and the RYA Youth National Championships. [107] Tall ship Pelican, built as an Arctic fishing trawler in 1948, offers sail training voyages for youth. [108] Weymouth Bay is a venue for other water-sports—the reliable wind is favourable for wind- and kite-surfing. The sheltered waters in Portland Harbour and near Weymouth are used for angling, diving to shipwrecks, snorkelling, canoeing, jet skiing, water skiing, and swimming. [109]

See also

References and notes

A Population figure is an estimate for mid-2011, and includes only the town of Weymouth – not Portland or surrounding villages.
B Areas in American Horticultural Society Heat Zone 1 experience less than one day per year with maximum temperatures above 30 °C (86 °F). [110]
C The maximum hours of sunshine possible in one year is approximately 4383 hours (12 hours/day × 365.25 days).
D The growing season in the United Kingdom is defined as starting on the day after five consecutive days with mean temperatures above 5 °C (41 °F). The season finishes the day after mean temperatures are below 5 °C (41 °F) for five consecutive days. [111]
E Areas in Hardiness zone 9 experience an average lowest recorded temperature each year between −6.6 and −1.1 °C (20.1 and 30.0 °F). [112]
F Figures are for Weymouth and Portland as a whole.
G These figures are for July to September in 2010.
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