Weymouth and the surrounding area are blessed with several viewpoints where you can drink in a panoramic perspective for free. If you’re looking for somewhere to pause for lunch or a coffee, or to include in a walk around the area, I’ve put together a list of the best.
Something magical happens when a strip of golden sand is all that separates the sea from the land. Cliffs are dramatic, pebbles can be pleasant and mud is, well, just mud. But sand is special and here in Weymouth, we have buckets of the stuff!
You don’t need sand to have a seaside. Plenty of British resorts get by without having a decent beach. Southend and Weston-super-Mare both spring to mind as places better known for their mud than their sand. Both Brighton and Bournemouth enjoy swathes of shingle.
Long curves of sand, that dip gently into the sea for as far as the tide extends, and beyond, are to be treasured and enjoyed. Weymouth’s golden coast has attracted visitors for well over two hundred years and we can rightly claim to be one of the nation’s first proper seaside towns.
Or is that Ferrybridge? The name seems to be used both with and without a space. And you could argue that it’s where Wyke Regis meets Chesil Beach, not a boundary between Weymouth and Portland.
Leaving these minor details aside, Ferry Bridge is a landmark, albeit a minor landmark, that deserves a mention. And despite the name, Ferry Bridge is neither a ferry or a bridge. It’s bigger than that.
Chesil Beach features in my earliest memory of Weymouth. Some time in the early 1980s my parents brought us here and I recall scrambling up and and down the pebbles of this massive stony bank.
The beach popped up a few years later in my geography classes at school. It’s a unique curiosity and a wonderful feature on a coastline that’s already packed with variety and interest.
So what’s so special about Chesil Beach? Or Chesil Bank, as it’s also known.
I visited Weymouth a few times before finally moving here and watching the lift of Town Bridge was always a stop on the tourist trail.
Living here, effectively on the southern side of the harbour, switches the lift from a feature to a potential inconvenience. As I walk into town I realise it’s five minutes before the hour and a brief jog is required if I want to get across before the barriers come down.
As you drive west from Weymouth along the coast road, towards Abbotsbury, you’ll probably notice a stumpy tower rising from the top of the hills. By the time you reach Portesham it’s disappeared from view, but in the villages you’ll spot a signpost to the Hardy Monument. That’s the tower you saw.
What does Weymouth have in common with Newmarket, Douglas on the Isle of Man and George Town in Malaysia? All three have clock towers that were built in celebration of Queen Victoria’s jubilees – major anniversaries of her ascension to the throne.
On 16 June 1887 Weymouth, along with the rest of the country, celebrated 50 years of Queen Victoria’s reign. The half century had seen massive changes in the town including the arrival of the railway, the building of Nothe Fort and considerable growth in population.
Banquets and street parties, paid for by a Jubilee fund, allowed everyone to join in the festivitiesand it was decided to spend the cash left over on a town clock. Or at least, on a tower. The clock itself was paid for by Sir Henry Edwards, Member of Parliament andgenerous benefactor to several local good causes.
The clock was originally constructed on a stone platform that projected out from the Esplanade. But as the road was widened in the 1920s, when the area around the clock became absorbed into the main body of the Esplanade.
In addition to being both a local landmark and a timepiece, the clock also provided the colours for Weymouth FC. According to Nigel Biddlecombe’s history of Weymouth football club, when the club was founded in 1890 a Fred Pates suggested that the team colours be terracotta and pale blue. He’d just been given the contract to paint the clock tower in exactly those colours.
What significance of terracotta and pale blue is to Weymouth before that date, I don’t know. The town has had a coat of arms since 1592 but do those colours feature strongly? That’s a detail I haven’t researched.
If you have any stories about the Jubilee Clock, please share them in the comments.
Weymouth An Illustrated History by Maureen Boddy and Jack West (1983)
A History of Weymouth Football Club by Nigel Biddlecombe (2006)
Jubilee Clock – Wikipedia
Top two images copyright Andrew Knowles
Clock in Terras colours copyright Chilli Head