Weymouth Harbour is one of Britain’s prettiest. It is also a working port, with a constant stream of pleasure craft and fishing vessels coming in. Tall Ships, super yachts, Navy ships and historic craft also grace her waters. In recent years, there were several spectacular Waterfest events. Near the entrance, there is the quaint rowboat ferry, which has been running for 60 years. Nearby is the Nothe Fort and Gardens. Weymouth Harbour is the perfect place to stroll, drink and eat, in the many fine pubs and restaurants lining the harbour.
Yesterday (19th September 2020), it was a bit breezy here in Weymouth. Still sunny, so we popped out the back door to take a quick film of the Harbour. We noticed, along with the boats, the pontoons were moving significantly under the swell. The chap walking his dog along the pontoons had to pause for a moment to allow the rocking motions to subside. Today, the first “Yachtie” braved the channel and his spot was taken by a luxury cruiser (sorry, no photo).
It is great to see pleasure craft starting to return to Weymouth Harbour. The lockdown has been long and devoid of much normal activity. Yachts and Tall Ships have been sorely missed this year. Although there have been a few stand up paddleboarders around.
Meanwhile, in the Harbour, the pontoons are back and align better with available services (power, water, etc). There is hope for a new Harbourmaster appointment. The new Ferry Steps are open and Weymouth Bay cruises are back. Unfortunately, the Portland Ferry and rowboat ferries will not start till 2021. There is hope that a new cross-channel Ferry may be in sight, following negotiations.
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).
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.
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.
At the time of writing (11th January), remaining works included the last capping beam concrete pour and replacing the Ferry Steps. Then there are – levelling, making good, reinstating safety railings, resurfacing and clearing the site. We hope to add a few photos in later updates to this post during these concluding works, as they arise. We may be able to add a short video clip of the finished result. Then we shall be back to blogs about visiting luxury superyachts, Naval vessels, Tall Ships and Harbourside events, such as the Seafood Festival.
Updates (after 11th January)
Update on 15th January: Yesterday’s storm (Brendan) slowed work on the site but more backfilling and welder-cutting for pipe egress was attempted. The crane swayed alarmingly in the wind and work stopped in the afternoon. (No pictures – far too wet and windy!)
31st January 2020 – The large crane (Old Squeaky) left (using another box-crane) and disappeared from site around 11:30 a.m. It transpires, the crane may not have been causing TV interference after all. At least we can now investigate other possible causes, having eliminated the most obvious suspect.
Storm Ciara caused quite a stir last weekend (8th/9th/10th February,. There were gusts of wind up to 60mph and lots of rain. Some site barriers toppled in places and crashed against Roundhouse walls. The worst of the weather was too rough for filming due to even worse wind and rain later, naturally. (Film clips courtesy of Roundhouse Hotel Weymouth).
Week ending 14th February
There remain a few more finishing jobs and complete site clearance takes place next week. Safety railings will come later (etc). However, the repairs are essentially complete and are looking quite tidy. (Footnote, in September 2020, these railings were damaged by vandals!)
Update – 31st May 2020
We promised a few photos of the finished Harbour Wall repair area. We had to wait for the Covid-19 restrictions to permit the works. But here it is and very good it looks too. The final effect is very smart and makes for an attractive feature for residents and visitors alike.
And now – the not so good bit –
Way back in October 2018, Council announced these works and promised to compensate affected guesthouses for loss of income. Several more meetings took place during 2019 and negotiators were appointed, BOTH BY COUNCIL (?) for both sides. Council to pay BOTH negotiators.
Estate agent as negotiator – really?
It turned out, the Council negotiator against the hoteliers was actually an estate agent, from Symonds and Sampson. (Why not the very long-established property services or assets and infrastructure teams already working at Council, for decades? Why not solicitors? What would estate agents have to offer, really? The assets and property section of Dorset Council had a total expenditure budget over £13million, so why spend another £4,848 externally? It’s not like they were short-staffed or under-funded – projected nett budget over £5million!)
Unreasonable delays and argument
The estate agent appeared to be most tenacious in dragging out proceedings beyond all concept of reasonableness, but he was probably just following Council instructions. On the other hand, the hoteliers’ negotiator (a2a Consulting Ltd) appeared no speedier. Typically questions were not asked till weeks after submission and not answered, usually with deflection, several more weeks later still. It is likely both negotiator teams earned many £1000’s in time spent on arriving at a final offer which satisfies nobody and angers most of us. Their fees come from the Public Purse, of course. (£4,848 for Symonds and Sampson alone).
Shortage of facts
As of 9th September, enquiries have remain unanswered, regarding the financial arrangements or selection process for these negotiators, nor any actual benefit derived (if any).
From the little we know emerging from behind the strict veil of secrecy (public works affecting numerous businesses owned by Council !) it seems the individual guesthouses will receive very different sums in compensation, some may receive nothing and in the worst cases, their business costs will be DEDUCTED from their compensation – in effect, they are paying twice over for running costs.
Seemingly unfair payouts still awaited
A couple of guesthouses received interim payments in February, but in the form of rent refunds (maybe there is a legal reason for that obfuscation). And the final compensation has STILL not been paid (as of 9th September 2020). For orientation, compensation was promised October 2018, works started 29th September 2019, finished late on 13th February 2020 – so there seems little if any excuse for a further 7 months of fruitless wrangling over minute details, which were in the end largely discarded by Council anyway.
Council’s leaden hand strikes again!
In typical fashion, Council has taken a brave and high quality project and turned it into argument and poison, a nightmare to everyone concerned. A quick payout back in, say, March, even at reduced amounts, could have avoided all this negativity but Council thrives on negativity, doesn’t it!
The air temperature for the Charity Swim was about 10 degC, also the water temperature (according to google – Alexa). There was very little breeze but the shock of hitting cold water exposed several swimmers to cramps, “brain-freeze” and some muscle injuries (including Mark – Wobbly Fish). There were 471 competitors in 9 heats and upwards of 20,000 spectators watched till the end. The Christmas Day Swim raised £1000’s for Charity (plus not a few goosebumps). (See our YouTube Channel for other videos).
There was due to be a fourth member of the Wall family undetaking the swim but an unfortunate “illness” overtook Karl the night before (early “brain freeze”). We are hoping to get Claire to have a go next year…..
On the far bank was a welcoming committee, including a small dinosaur. About 100 people watched the event, which had all the flavour of a typical Weymouth activity – eccentric, fun and something always happening. We searched afterward for news online but could find none. We imagine the race may have been connected with RNLI Charity events concurrent in Bridport/West Bay and Poole. Anyway, it was a fun and interesting diversion from cleaning the kitchen (again!)
As “spy drones” go, this was a somewhat noisy affair. One could imagine Taliban fighters (etc) spotting the machine and shooting it out of skies within a few seconds of deployment. Onlookers noted a level of “dissatisfaction” among the populations of rooftop gulls, rooks and crows, during its flight pattern. We do not know whether militarised spy drones are quieter, but we hope so. It was difficult to determine the drone manufacturer nor make of camera carried, but the latter appeared similar to Canon-style video devices in common use. Flight times were about an hour each, in several sessions. Today, 17th, the Pavilion Theatre is under survey. This was a distinctly unusual instance of “sights in Weymouth Harbour“.
As for the Harbour Wall repairs, these start 30th September and last for several weeks, until early December. Preparatory works will lead onto reverberatory pile driving, followed by percussive piledriving, finishing and making good works. It is expected most of the nearby guesthouses, including ourselves, will close during these works, for reasons of noise, access and safety. We hope our respective guests will bear with us and come back afterwards, to enjoy our hospitality, perhaps in the Christmas Season or New Year.
The weather over the weekend was warm, with sunny spells and a light breeze – much appreciated while sitting enjoying the food and the scenery outside the Harbourside pubs. Tens of thousands of visitors crowded the Harbour, looking for the ideal meal among the many options. We spotted crispy squid, “experimental” marmalades (eg. carrot, parsnip, etc), crepes, specialist gin, oysters, Thai Cuisine, Paella, Chimonea-fired pizza, Organic Farm produce, local cheeses, produce from The Garlic Farm, Isle of Wight, as well as some “usual suspects” – Weird Fish, CEFAS (Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science) and no less than THREE cooking stages, with famous chefs showing their skills and tips for the public. A great day for exploring with this afternoon (Sunday) still to go…
In this era of Covid-19 and restrictions around travel and social contact, we hope we can welcome guests and provide a safe environment under Government guidelines and complying with some in-house safety measures.
Regrettably, we cannot serve breakfasts. This is to ensure proper social distancing
We cannot clean rooms during your stay. We can provide clean towels and toiletries outside your door
There is sanitizer hand gel provided in your room and public areas, along with some PPE (gloves, masks, etc)
We ask that guests do not meet together in close proximity and observe cough and hand-cleaning hygiene
Please do not pass by each other on stairs. We clean all communal contact surfaces multiple times daily.
Please provide a reasonably accurate time of arrival so we can stagger arrivals and maintain social distancing
Between 9.00 am and 8.00 pm we are available by phone to answer your requests
We have our Covid-19 Risk Assessment, PPE and Coronavirus prevention certificates plus instructions for safe use of PPE available in our public areas. There is 70% alcohol hand gel, gloves, masks, bootees and individual hand gel sachets in the entrance and rooms.