Weymouth Walk – 13.10.2012

Think but of the surprise of His Majesty when, the first time of his bathing, he had no sooner popped his royal head under water than a band of music, concealed in a neighbouring machine, struck up ‘God save great George our King’.

Diary and Letters of Madame d’Arblay, vol 5, pp. 35-6

What a to do when George III went bathing in Weymouth in 1789! George III indeed made this English Seaside Resort of Weymouth extremely popular to visit during the C18th, and visitors have flocked here ever since. We were about to walk experience some of the South West Coast Path that surrounds Weymouth and enjoy the sea air, so we took our walk with a nice leisurely pace for a change.

It was not our first experience of walking over train tracks, but here along Weymouth Harbourside there are traintracks deeply imbedded into the road. The road and pavements are extremely narrow on this stretch and it was even more tricky to walk when there were cars parked on the pavement. I began to struggle to imagine a full size train trying to negotiate its way along this road with cars parked along it and not only that C18th buildings which have windows jutting out on to the roadside! I presume that trains still use this stretch of track during the summertime as we found a full size platform by the ferry terminal for boats to the Channel Islands…

As we left the terminal behind and started to walk across the car park to the other side of the “pier”, which gave us some unprecedented views across Weymouth bay. If we had a little more time here, the Weymouth Sealife tower has been built here and stands 53m (174ft) tall, which could have given us a even better view across Weymouth, Portland and the Jurassic coast. Instead we decided to turn away from the tower and walk towards Weymouth beach. Unfortunately we were unable to access some of the beach, which we did not realise, as it was being prepared for a Motocross competition that was taking place the next day.

From 2012 – 13.10.2012 – Weymouth Walk

To make up for the disappointment of not being able to walk on the beach, we reached a curious seashell shaped building, where someone had been creating sand sculptures. Not quite as large and grand as the sand sculptures we had spotted in Weston Super Mare, but nevertheless very clever. The symbol that had been left was the “Paralmypics GB” sign. Obviously as Weymouth had held the 2012 Sailing events for both the Olympics and Paralympics, I presume that this was left over from this! What a great tribute 🙂

It was nice to see that King George III has been immortalised in the town with a lovely statue. Not only that a replica of his original bathing machine was right in the middle of roundabout! This is so different from the baths we encountered in Weston Super Mare and Lord Churston Bathing House in Devon. It really seems that King George III did set a trend for bathing at the Seaside 🙂 .

At least we were not stuck to find out the time on our walk, as we came across “Jubilee Clock” on the Esplanade as we walked on a little further. The clock was built in 1887 in the 50th year of the reign of Queen Victoria to mark her Golden Jubilee year. What a great tribute to the Queen and how great to know it is still standing over 100 years later. I did ponder if there was a tribute to Queen Elizabeth II and her jubilee too, particularly as the statue to George III was also built in the 50th year of his reign.

From 2012 – 13.10.2012 – Weymouth Walk

The esplanade of Weymouth seemed to be missing something to me, a pleasure pier. Unlike the other seaside resorts we had visited such as Ventor, Hastings, Paignton and Weston. I wondered if this was due to the harbour and stone pier that had been built in it’s place? However, we were soon to find a building known as the “Pier Bandstand”. This lovely Art Deco Building, has been beautifully restored, however as I went onto the beach could see it did not really go anywhere and is really just the entrance building and no longer a pier 😦 .

The pier was built in 1939 after a competition was held by the Royal Institute of Architects with a total of 26 entries. V.J.Venning’s design was chosen and the pier was finally opened on 25th May 1939. The pier was 200 feet in length, but accommodate up to 2,400 seats in the bandstand. In the later years the pier included amusements and a restaurant, but by the mid 1980s the actual bandstand was too expensive to maintain and was finally demolished. Despite a project for the pier to be restored completely for the 2012 Olympic year it arrived pass, what a great shame.

I should not have doubted whether there was a tribute to Queen Elizabeth II jubilee in Weymouth, because, as we reached Greenhill Gardens, their was a wonderful display in the flowerbed reading –

“The Queen’s Jubilee
1952 – 2012”

The gardens even had a floral clock, which is working order. So different from the floral clock which is no longer in operation in Weston Super Mare at least I can now imagine what that could have looked like 🙂 . Just before we left the gardens, we encountered a line of beachhuts, they looked freshly painted to me and they were still in use.

From 2012 – 13.10.2012 – Weymouth Walk

I wandered onto the beach for a while, but I did not venture to dabble my toes into the sea while I was there, unlike the gentleman who was brave enough to take a dip! As I turned to go back up the esplanade I noticed a small plaque which had been put up, to celebrate the twinning of Weymouth & Portland and Holzwickede. I am not quite sure as to why this little plaque is so hidden?

I clambered back up onto the promenade to continue on. It was not long before we came across another set of Beach huts. Unlike the other huts, these were not of the traditional design, they seemed have a design more reminiscent of the 1950’s, and even had their own area with a dedicated paddling pool and sandpit. They certainly were a lot larger almost a small chalet if you ask me 🙂

We felt it was time to head away from the seafront just for a while. Our main reason, was to stop and find somewhere to have lunch. Just behind the beachhuts was Lodmoor Country Park, well there is a lot more in this area, the Sealife Adventure park amongst other things! However, we only felt we had time to briefly look at the Country park after lunch. I do admit to rather enjoyed watching the “Rio Grande” miniature railway, which goes around some of the park. Hopefully this little railway not suffer the same fate as the Weston Super Mare Miniature Railway.

From 2012 – 13.10.2012 – Weymouth Walk

We retraced our walk back into town to explore the other part of Weymouth. As we walked through the town I spotted a little sign which stated that one of the buildings was a former inn built in the Tudor times. I think I was more fascinated by the fact it was built near the former Medieval Friary. As we walked away from the inn and crossed the bridge to the other side of the harbour, we spotted the “Kings Arms” which was so called after the visits of George III to Weymouth and is still going today unlike the Milton Arms 😦 . Following the harbourside, it took us past the RNLI station and it was here we had a choice of direction to take. Either to walk on to the “stone pier” or to Nothe Fort. We felt we wanted to look at the Fort.

We climbed the steps to Nothe Gardens and it was definitely worth it, we were rewarded with some lovely views across the other side of the bay! As we walked to Nothe Fort we discovered it was closed, so sadly we will need to go back to discover more. However, from my brief visit I can see why this Victorian fort was built in this very domineering position over the bay, especially as some of the remnants of the defences from WWII can still be seen! I do wonder why no fort had been built previously since Weymouth has such a history of shipping? I think of the Napoleonic forts I have seen in the past like the Berryhead fort.

Because the fort was closed, we decided to leave the gardens and walk along the stone pier. As we started to make our way out onto the pier, we found a commemorative stone dedicated to the “Earl of Abergavenny”.

“Ill-fated Vessel! – ghastly shock!
At length delivered from the rock,
The deep she hath regained;
And through the stormy night they steer;
Labouring for life, in hope and fear,
To reach a safer shore – how near,
Yet not to be attained!”
William Wordsworth

The “Earl of Abergavenny”, was a ship that was captained by William Wordsworth’s younger brother John Wordsworth. After two successful trips to China, sadly on 5th February 1805 the ship sunk with over 250 passengers including her Captain John Wordsworth. The wreck in Weymouth bay was visible for many years afterwards.

As we turned back towards Weymouth to complete our walk, I looked up towards Nothe Fort and had a complete surprise a Beacon! I am quite pleased, as this means only another 3,399 to find on my walks, I better keep a keen eye out 🙂 . We eventually reached town and just before we completed our walk, I spotted a blue plaque – “William Thompson – Naturalist and pioneer of underwater photography”. I am impressed with Mr Thompson’s idea of underwater photography, particularly as this was in C19th long before the modern technology of today!

For all the days walk –

2012 – 13.10.2012 – Weymouth Walk

One response to “Weymouth Walk – 13.10.2012

  1. Pingback: Colchester Walk – 22.03.2014 « Karen's Sponsored Walks

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