A postcard from Weymouth Events

Postcard Series

In a normal year, there are over 200 Weymouth events, mostly on the Beach or Weymouth Bay. The Seafood Festival takes place on the Harbourside. Harley Davison bikes gather on the Pavilion forecourt. Britain’s biggest New Years Eve Fancy Dress Party stretches right across the Town. Rather than write a massive tome, we thought we would just show images from a few events we enjoyed. (See the index at the foot of the page)

Kite Festival on Weymouth Beach

Weymouth Events. International Beach Kite Festival
International Beach KiteAaran Guesthouse You Tube playlist Festival

Sporting events in Weymouth

Static Kite display on the Beach. One of many Weymouth Events
Static Kite display on the Beach

Autocross

Beach Buggy racing. A surprising Weymouth Event a few years ago.
Beach Buggy racing
Supercharged Landrover Testing on Weymouth Beach
Supercharged Landrover Beach Testing

Motocross

Climbing sand dunes in Motocross racing. The biggest Weymouth Event in October.
Climbing sand dunes in Motocross racing
Beach Motocross start line in front of Aaran House. A Weymouth Event with plenty of noise, drama and entertainment.
Beach Motocross start line in front of Aaran House

Dragon Boats in Weymouth Bay

Dragon Boat racing on Weymouth Beach
Dragon Boat racing on Weymouth Beach

Gig Boats

Local Gig Boat Racing off Weymouth Beach
Local Gig Boat Racing off Weymouth Beach
Portland Island Gig Boat entry
Portland Island Gig Boat entry

Iron Man Triathlon on The Esplanade

Iron Man 70.3 Winner 2018. This has become a regular Weymouth Event.
Iron Man 70.3 Winner 2018

Cultural events in Weymouth

Seafood Festival in Weymouth Harbour

Seafood Festival. The biggest such Event in UK, held here in Weymouth Harbour
Seafood Festival – maybe coming back in 2021
Curries at the Seafood Festival. An all you can eat Weymouth Event
Curries at the Seafood Festival

Beach events

Volleyball on Weymouth Beach

Volleyball on Weymouth Beach
Volleyball on Weymouth Beach
Don’t know what this signal means

Santa Run

Santa Fun Run at the start on Weymouth Beach
Santa Fun Run at the start

Harbour and Bay events

Harbour Swim

Wall Family out in force for the Christmas Day Weymouth Harbour Swim
Wall Family out in force for the Christmas Day Weymouth Harbour Swim

Powerboat Racing in Weymouth Bay

Formula ! Powerboat Racing in Weymouth Bay
Formula ! Powerboat Racing in Weymouth Bay

Veteran and Historic vehicles

Vintage Cars on Pavilion Forecourt

Classic Morris in blue
Classic Morris in blue
Pristine Veteran Bentley
Pristine Veteran Bentley

Harley Davison Display

A gorgeous Harley Davison
A gorgeous Harley Davison
Super artwork on a Harley Davison fuel tank
Super artwork on a Harley Davison fuel tank
Harley Davison in all its glory
Harley Davison in all its glory

Veterans Parade on The Esplanade

Marching Bands on Veteran's Day on The Esplanade
Marching Bands on Veteran’s Day on The Esplanade
Old Heroes marching down The Esplanade
Old Heroes marching down The Esplanade

Military Vehicles

Annual military vehicle display
Annual military vehicle display
A Sherman Tank (we think) on The Esplanade
A Sherman Tank (we think) on The Esplanade

D-Day Landings. A spectacular Weymouth Event

Troops disembarked for D-Day Landings re-enactment
Troops disembarked for D-Day Landings re-enactment
D-Day battle re-enactment
D-Day battle re-enactment

Civil War re-enactment

Preparing to fire the muzzle-loading cannon
Preparing to fire the muzzle-loading cannon
A musket volley before the pikestaff charge
A musket volley before the pikestaff charge

Weymouth Carnival

Red Arrows fly past
Red Arrows fly past
"It's life Jim, but not as we know it" - Carnival parade
“It’s life Jim, but not as we know it” – Carnival parade
Carnival fireworks in the Bay
Carnival fireworks in the Bay

New Years Eve in Weymouth Town

New Years Eve fancy dress - one of the biggest in Europe(Press photo)
(Press photo)
Hundreds of "animals", "Pharoahs", "Gangsters" and "Dinosaurs" in The Gloucester Pub (Gloucester Inn photo)
(Gloucester Inn photo)
Cavaliers in the Pub "Where's D'Artignan got to?"
Cavaliers in the Pub “Where’s D’Artignan got to?”

And many, many more…..

Kite FestivalAutocrossMotocrossDragon Boats
Gig BoatsIron ManSeafoodVolleyball
Santa RunHarbour SwimPowerboatsVintage Cars
Harley DavisonVeterans DayMilitary VehiclesD-Day Landing
Civil WarCarnivalNew Years Eve

A postcard from Weymouth Town

Postcard Series

Weymouth has a long and distinguished history

The town we presently know as Weymouth was originally two towns. Melcombe lay to the North of the shared Harbour and “old” Weymouth was across the water, to the South. The Harbour came to prominence in the 13th Century, mainly trading wool.

Cove Row (on the Weymouth side), from the Town Bridge
Cove Row (on the Weymouth side), from the Town Bridge

The two rival towns united in 1571, by Act of Parliament. This did not succeed in averting hostilities in the English Civil War. A cannonball can still be seen, embedded into a wall in Maiden Street. The resulting “double-borough” may be the reason why there were more councillors than in most UK townships, until recent reorganisations. Later, the Harbour became a busy fishing port.

Middle Harbour, looking towards the 1930's Bascule Town Bridge and St Joseph's
Middle Harbour, looking towards the 1930’s Bascule Town Bridge and St Joseph’s

Some historical events

Previous posts in this “Postcard” series highlight some of our local history. Developments include The Esplanade, contributions to the response to the Spanish Armada, smuggling, piracy and founding of the American Colonies.

Baptist Chapel (1513) on The Esplanade
Baptist Chapel (1513) on The Esplanade

Along the way, the “Black Death” entered Weymouth in 1348. Also, King George III effectively put Weymouth on the map as a seaside resort. Stacie’s was the first purpose-built hotel in Weymouth Town, from 1773. The site is currently the Royal Hotel (1899). During the Second World War, over 450,000 troops and 100,000 military vehicles paraded down The Esplanade to embark for Operation Overlord (D-Day).

Parts of the White Hart Pub date from the 15th Century
Parts of the White Hart Pub date from the 15th Century

Weymouth Town Centre

In Medieval times, the burgs of Weymouth and Melcombe Regis were little more than clusters of dwellings, either side of the trading and fishing port. In the 16th Century, a Dominican Friary, dating from 1418, built a jetty from the mainland on the Melcombe side to the approximate site of the current Alexandra Gardens.

The Golden Lion (1721)
The Golden Lion (1721)

Origin of Weymouth’s main thoroughfares

A succession of piers and embankments led to the extension of these lands and the population grew. The present-day St Mary and St Edmund streets were no more than pathways between grassy slopes.

The 17th Century Duke of Cornwall inn, next to the Old Guildhall
The 17th Century Duke of Cornwall inn, next to the Old Guildhall

Accommodation in the new tourist spot

By the 18th Century, houses in the growing “Weymouth Town” were a mix of ancient timber frame buildings and stone constructions, with mullion windows. The 1776 Improvement Act resulted in removal of thatch roofs by about 1784. The development of Weymouth as a tourist resort began with the visits by King George III, from 1750 to 1805. During this period, many more visitors, particularly wealthy patrons and gentry, chose to come to the Town but suitable accommodation was scarce.

St Mary's Church (1817), built by the architect Hamilton
St Mary’s Church (1817), built by the architect Hamilton

By the mid-nineteenth century, the Royal Baths, coffee salons, assembly and reading rooms were in regular use and some commercial buildings, such as banks, appeared.

The former Eliot, Pierce and Co Bank, which failed in 1897
The former Eliot, Pierce and Co Bank, which failed in 1897

Theatres, banks and open spaces

The Theatre Royal was, in 1771, one of the first purpose-built theatres outside London. Alexandra Gardens became public gardens in 1867, with a bandstand in 1891. In 1924, a concert hall replaced the bandstand.

Before HSBC, we do not know who occupied this 19th Century building
Before HSBC, we do not know who occupied this 19th Century building

Roller-skating rinks provided adventurous entertainment at the Burdon Hotel and Grange Road. The coming of affordable rail travel for all in the 1850’s saw rapid development in Weymouth. Trade routes from the Channel Islands added greatly to the wealth of the area. New Town Centre dwellings, shops and inns opened, with many now offering modest rooms for travelers. Weymouth Town had arrived!

A postcard from Weymouth Esplanade

Postcard Series

Weymouth Esplanade is a broad street sweeping around the Bay towards the Pavilion Theatre

The old fairy lights along the Esplanade
The old fairy lights along the Esplanade

A brief history of Weymouth Esplanade

In the late 16th century, there was no sign of what was to become the Esplanade. There was a grassy strip, separating the small town of Melcombe Regis from the Beach. The only “construction” possibly marking the line of the future Esplanade was a defence platform. This guarded against French attacks. By the 1750’s, several bathing “buses” were in use. These allowed visitors to enjoy the health benefits of sea-bathing while protecting from the clay-like sea bed. Prince William Henry, Duke of Gloucester, built the first notable house along the shore-line (Gloucester Lodge). He urged his brother, KIng George III, to visit and the grand social life of Weymouth took off. The germ of Weymouth Esplanade began.

Replica of the type of bathing machine King George III would have used between about 1780 and 1805
Replica of the type of bathing machine King George III would have used between about 1780 and 1805, while staying at his brother’s residence, Gloucester Lodge
Statue commemorating King George III
Statue commemorating King George III, erected in 1801 at the meeting of Saint Thomas Street, Saint Mary Street and The Esplanade

Georgian Architecture on Weymouth Esplanade

Early on, it became apparent there was not enough accommodation of sufficient standard for visiting gentry. “Promenades” along the sea front became popular as crowds followed the King on his daily walks. Unfortunately, the sea front at that time consisted mostly of rear gardens and a long, thin rubbish dump of sorts. Consequently, visitors stayed in rather poor housing in the Town Centre. Andrew Sproule built the original Royal Hotel. The architect, Hamilton, designed new Georgian terraces, in sections, forming a broad curve along the sea front.

James Hamilton, Architect

The relatively unknown architect, James Hamilton developed the broad sweeping style of the Georgian Terraces. These have become a main characteristic of the Weymouth frontage. From repairs to the inner Harbour in 1797, through to design of the Osmington Hillside Carving in 1802 and George III commemorative statue in 1810, Hamilton gradually came to prominence.

Adapting to tourism

Because of increasing tourist numbers, owners used the terraces to provide lodgings for relatively wealthy guests and the Esplanade was “born”. To maintain consistent appearance, later infills generally matched the standard form of the main Georgian Terraces. Due to these efforts, by 1836, 184 of these buildings offered “superior” acommodation for guests.

Listed building Terraces

Hamilton designed the York buildings in the 1780’s, then Gloucester Row in the 1790’s and, to the South, Devonshire Buildings (1805) and Pulteney Buildings (1810), followed by Johnstone Row. His last work was Saint Mary’s Church in the Town. To match the rounded termination at Johnstone Row, in 1845, the Roundhouse, on the end of the Devonshire buildings, has a distinctive “lighthouse” appearance. The later Beach House on Brunswick Terrace is also in semi-circular form. English Heritage listed most of these terraces. Thus, they require to be of more or less uniform appearance and decoration.

General view of Weymouth sea front from the Peninsula Pier
General view of Weymouth sea front from the Peninsula Pier

Later developments

The Great Tempest of 1824 destroyed much of the new Esplanade, but rebuilding and further development quickly restarted. The retaining wall appeared in 1834. In 1887, the Victorians built the Jubilee Clocktower, to celebrate the Queen’s Jubilee. Two libraries flourished, along with Assembly Rooms and a Theatre near the present-day Bond Street. The Theatre closed in 1859. Around then, the arrival of railway services to Weymouth saw the advent of seaside holidays for the masses. Goerge Stevenson gifted an area of land (previously used as a communal midden) to the Town and this became known Alexandra Gardens. By 1924, it added a Theatre and then turned into an amusement arcade in the 1960’s.

In 1889, the Victorian shelters appeared along the Esplanade. By 1908, there was a new Theatre, The Pavilion, later The Ritz, sited at the Southern end of The Esplanade. A fire destroyed The Ritz in 1954 and the New Weymouth Pavilion was built on the same site in 1960.

The Esplanade in Wartime

During the Second World War, The Esplanade saw plenty of action, mainly leading up to the Normandy Landings. About 517,000 Allied Troops and over 100,000 vehicles travelled down the Esplanade to reach their embarkation points in the Harbour. A number of the sea front hotels were converted into military headquarters, with interconnecting doors still visible in some cases. In more recent times, the beach retaining wall was realigned and raised, along with broadening of the Esplanade itself.

The modern Esplanade

Currently, the Esplanade is a broad, sweeping road, stretching from Brunswick Terrace for over 800 metres to Weymouth Pavilion, on the Peninsula. There are only about 85 guesthouses and hotels operating currently. However, these are supplemented by various amusement arcades, shops and cafes. Rossi’s Ice Cream Parlour has been operating since 1934. Although the traffic is busy, it is still a splendid walk to enjoy the Georgian architecture on one side and the glorious sea view on the other. Modern additions include illuminated planters, flower beds and the old Lifeguard/Tourist Centre building is being renovated to become a “superloo” for visitors. New art-installation lighting coruscates with innumerable changing light patterns at night. A feast for the eyes!

One of the new illuminated flower beds along the Esplanade

A postcard from Weymouth fishing fleet

Postcard Series

Weymouth is one of Britain’s busiest fishing ports

A (very) brief history

There has been a fishing port at Weymouth since Roman times (strictly at Radipole via the River Wey). The Port moved to Melcombe Regis in the mid-13th Century, trading spice and other goods. A century later, the port was the entry point for the Black Death. The two towns of Weymouth and Melcombe Regis united in 1571.

Pilgrim Voyages. The discovery of Newfoundland and colonisation of Massachusetts
The discovery of Newfoundland and colonisation of Massachusetts

In 1635, the Ship Charity carried pilgrims to the new land of America, founding Weymouth in the present-day state of Massachusetts. Weymouth made many contributions to history over the centuries. Probably the biggest was embarkation of over 500,000 troops heading to the Normandy Beaches in WW2. Today, we are highlighting Weymouth fishing fleet.

Fishing vessel setting out
Fishing vessel setting out

Fishing in Weymouth

The Sea near Weymouth is relatively sheltered, tending to circulate (nutrients) more or less gently around the Bay. The habitats range from sea grass meadows and kelp, to rocky ledges, gravel dunes and erosion beds. This mix of environments couples with the stream of food sources from the English Channel. This sustains a rich and varied marine fauna.

Offloading the day's catch of whelks outside Weyfish
Offloading the day’s catch of whelks outside Weyfish

Protecting the Environment

Much of the Dorset inshore area falls under the Marine Conservation Act. As a consequence, the impact of more aggressive industrialised fishing methods has been minimal. Most inshore fishing uses a more traditional style, with smaller boats, having pots, traps, hand-lines and static nets.

Middle Harbour. A new fishing centre is planned a few hundred metres away
Middle Harbour. A new fishing centre is planned a few hundred metres away

Mirroring commercial activity, Sea-angling from Chartered boats has become a major local industry. The sport contributes a significant portion of the National £1.3 Billion National sea fishing recreational industry. There are 11 local charter boats and thousands of anglers visit Weymouth every year for wreck and deep sea angling.

Weymouth also houses the second CEFAS Laboratory (Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science). Here, the principal work invlolves operating the Fish Health Inspectorate (FHI). Additional work includes that for numerous UK and International organisations. The FHI monitors and enforces restrictions on fish and shellfish imports.

The Fishing Fleet

In a recent survey in 2018, there were 39 fishing vessels in the regular fleet. Of these, 36 were under 10 metres and average age was 28 years. Most were using nets, traps, pots or lines (for bass). Weymouth lies close to Poole, Brixham, good fishing grounds and Ferries to the EU. This makes the port popular for numbers of “nomadic” crabbers and whelkers. Over 40 species of fish and shellfish are common sights at Weymouth. The annual catch value is about £4 million pa and weighs about 8000 tons. Crabs and whelks make up about 85% of the total weight. The smaller boats tend to catch more bass.

Fish transport and processing

Normally, Live crabs, scallops and lobsters are transhipped by lorry (e.g. MacDuff’s) to Poole for ferrying abroad. Whelks typically serve Asian markets. Weymouth is the second largest port for landing line-caught bass, while the processing of the catch occurs on Portland before auction in Brixham. Major UK fish processors benefiting from Weymouth catches are Samways (Bridport), Dorset Fish and Shellfish (Poole), MacDuff (Mintlaw) and Weyfish (local).

Weyfish

There has been a Fish Market in Weymouth for 150 years. In recent times, Weyfish took over the building and renovated throughout. Up to 40 species of fish and shellfish may be found, depending on conditions and season. Specialties include fresh bass, mackerel, pollack, plaice, oysters, clams and lobsters. The company owns 3 boats in the Weymouth fishing fleet (Ellie Ann, Shaman and Cheetah Cat). The catch is fresh and never frozen. Our neighbours tell us the bass is to die for – superb quality.

Weyfish amid massive crowds for the Seafood Festival in 2019

A postcard from Weymouth Bay

Postcard Series

Blue sky and sea, with boats

Weymouth Bay is an oasis of blue sky and sea, with excellent sailing conditions. This is because it shelters from the worst of the English Channel weather behind the Island of Portland. The Bay includes Portland Harbour, Weymouth Beach, Studland Bay and Lulworth Cove. It is home to the Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy as a result of being the site for the 2012 Olympic sailing events.

Weymouth Bay and features
Weymouth Bay and features

History of the Bay

In 2019, the aircraft carrier Queen Elizabeth II anchored in the Bay, in order to allow disembarkation of a squadron for Yeovilton. In 1805, the year Aaran House was built, the Earl of Abergavenny sank in the bay, costing 261 lives. 1824 saw the ‘Great Tempest’, which destroyed much of the Esplanade. Most famously, King George III popularized the concept of sea-bathing for health reasons and effectively launched the Holiday Industry, here in Weymouth.

Fishing and marine life

Anyone who has ever “crunched” along the Esplanade in early Spring will realise there is plenty of marine life in the Bay. Gulls and crows/rooks regularly leave captured shellfish on the pavement. Lacking the powerful beaks of larger gulls, crows have developed a method to break into these tough little meals. They can be seen dropping shelled creatures from a height before leaving tens of thousands of “shelly” corpses for people to walk upon.

Cruise liners queuing up outside Portland Harbour
Cruise liners queuing up outside Portland Harbour

As well as shellfish, there are plenty of crabs and lobsters while various locations prove to be excellent spots for fishing. However, those nervous of crabs or larger fish around them while paddling can relax. It is fairly rare to see any of the marine life unless one hires a fishing boat for the day. Of course, the types of fish vary depending on location. Luckily, local Charter Captains are very skilled and can usually find any of those below.

View towards Studland Bay from the Old Stone Pier
View towards Studland Bay from the Old Stone Pier

Nearby Studland Bay is one of the largest breeding grounds for sea horses, due to extensive beds of sea grass.

Water-skiing in Weymouth Bay
Water-skiing in Weymouth Bay

Winter Fish

Bass
Bream (Black)
Bream (Gilthead)
Bull Huss
Conger Eel
Dogfish
Flatfish
Flounders
Garfish
Mackerel
Mullet (Golden)

– (continued)

Mullet (Grey)
Plaice
Pollack
Pouting
Rays
Smoothhounds
Squid
Wrasse (Ballan)
Wrasse (Ballan)

Summer Fish

Codling
Conger Eel
Dabs
Eels
Flounders
Rockling
Soles
Whiting

A postcard from Weymouth Beach

Postcard Series

Golden sand, full of dogs, donkeys and people, in that order…..

Formation of Weymouth Beach

Weymouth Beach is a wide, long arc of golden sand, stretching from the Pavilion Theatre towards Bowleaze Cove. From approximately the Jubilee Clocktower northwards, the beach increasingly contains pebbles. Some of these are thought to arise from weed-rafting. Fine and medium sand make up the wider, softer end of the beach (outside Aaran House).

Whether it is January or August, Weymouth Beach is always beautiful

These sands derive from tidal (reverse-)flow and wave action scouring the seabed in the Bay. Adding to this are sediments from the River Wey and Jordan. These sediments “washed up” against the harder outcrop at Nothe and formed the original strand. Extensions to the Harbour piers reinforced this sedimentation process. This broadened the beach near the current position of the Theatre.

Weymouth Beach – Best in Britain

The result is that the Beach comprises a safe, shallow bathing environment, with soft fine sand, ideal for making sandcastles and sunbathing. The Beach was a major factor in the development of Seaside Resorts and coastal holidays, following visits by King George III. It is possibly the most important attraction for visitors to Weymouth.

Donkey rides on the Beach
Donkey rides on the Beach (Westhill Donkeys)

The Beach was crowned “Best Beach in Britain” and one of the best in Europe in 2017, and it is easy to see why.

Volleyball on Weymouth Beach
Volleyball on Weymouth Beach

Beach Attractions

Among the attractions on Weymouth Beach, we have Donkey rides, a Helter Skelter slide, miniature golf, bungee rides, pedaloes and one of the last Punch and Judy shows in Europe. Paddleboarders and windsurfers launch from the beach most weeks. There are up to 27 concessions along the front, including shops, Sand World sculpture display booth and two cafes. The Beach is regularly cleaned during summer and there are RNLI lifeguards, First Aid, Lost Children services and Beach attendants available.

A postcard from Weymouth Harbour

Postcard Series

Peace and quiet in Weymouth Harbour

Always relaxing to watch the boats go by with just the gulls for company

Weymouth Harbour has been a port since Roman times and played a role in many historical events. These included contributing vessels for the Siege of Calais, capture of San Salvador from the Spanish Armada, the English Civil War and D-Day. There is a plaque on the Harbourside denoting the site where Bubonic Plague (The Black Death) is thought to have entered Britain in 1348. Emigrants aboard The Charity founded Weymouth, Massachusetts.

Plaque to Richard Clark (discovering Newfoundland in 1585) and John Endicott (Pilgrim voyage to Salem, Massachusetts, 1628)
Plaque to Richard Clark (discovering Newfoundland in 1585) and John Endicott (Pilgrim voyage to Salem, Massachusetts, 1628)

Fisn and chips, peace and quiet

Today, the Harbour is a quiet and relaxing area to stroll or maybe sit and eat fish and chips while the boats go past. There are several excellent chippies to hand plus numerous fine pubs and restaurants. We especially like The Marlborough for fish and chips. However, Bennett’s is also good, as is Fish and Fritz. We find the gulls are not fussy and like everyone’s chips.

Gull waiting for your chips
Gull waiting for your chips

Benches have been added in recent years along the Eastern side of Weymouth Harbour. They are placed along the raised portion of the old railway platform. This makes for a restful location, above the traffic and bustle of the street. During the recent Covid-19 outbreak, the benches have provided rest, great views and an air of solitude for elderly walkers.

Evacuation of Alderney and Jersey residents commemorated in 1940, next to the ancient memorial to Clark and Endicott, near the Devonshire Buildings
Evacuation of Alderney and Jersey residents commemorated in 1940, next to the ancient memorial to Clark and Endicott, near the Devonshire Buildings

Ferry Trips

The old railway tracks are still there, dating from 1865 (cyclists beware!) The Fish Market has recently been refurbished and is becoming a Mecca for seafood connoisseurs. The Rowboat Ferry crosses the water to the Nothe Fort and Gardens – another haven of peace and quiet. The ferry ride across Weymouth Harbour affords excellent views of the Port from an unusual angle. One may also hire charter fishing boats or water taxis to Portland.