Weymouth

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Weymouth
Missing image
Weymouth_Promenade.jpg
Weymouth Promenade

The Promenade

OS Grid Reference:Template:Gbmappingsmall
Lat/Lon:Template:Coor dm NW
Population: 63,648¹
Dwellings: 27,156¹
Formal status:Town
Administration
County:Dorset
Region:South West
Nation:England
Post Office and Telephone
Post town:Weymouth
Postcode:DT3, DT4
Dialling Code:01305

Template:GBdot Weymouth is a town in Dorset, England, situated on a sheltered bay at the mouth of the River Wey on the English Channel coast. The town is eight miles south of Dorchester, and just north of the Isle of Portland. The district of Weymouth and Portland has a population of 63,648¹. The town is one of the most popular British seaside resorts, and a cross-channel ferry terminal.

Contents

History

The town is acknowledged as being amongst the first ever tourist destinations, after King George III made Weymouth his summer holiday residence on fourteen occasions between 1789 and 1805, sparking a trend of sea bathing and health tourism. The seafront is entirely Georgian architecture, and a mounted white horse representing King George is carved into the chalk hills to the east of the town. The horse is facing away from the town and legend has it that the King took offence, believing it was a sign that the townspeople did not welcome him, and that the designer subsequently hanged himself.

Weymouth is thought to be the first Port at which the Black Death plague came into England, aboard a visiting spice ship in 1348.

Emigrants from the town settled in Weymouth, Nova Scotia, and Weymouth, Massachusetts.

Weymouth and Portland were extremely important in World War II, as Portland harbour was home to a large naval base, and Weymouth was home to Nothe Fort, together an important part of the D-Day preparations and Bouncing bomb development.

Geology & ecology

Weymouth is situated 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 washed away. At Weymouth the weak rock has been protected by Chesil Beach and the strong limestone Isle of Portland that lies just offshore. Weymouth is separated from Dorchester by the South Dorset Downs, a steep ridge of Chalk.

Weymouth is very low lying (this is one of the factors which helps to protect it from frost and snow) and the eastern areas of the town experienced several sea floods during extreme low pressure storms, until in the 1980s and 1990s a high sea wall was constructed. Beach nourishment and groynes ensure that the sand beach, important both for tourism and as a natural defense against the sea, is wide and has a shallow incline.

Radipole lake, an RSPB Nature Reserve and mouth of the River Wey is an important habitat for birds and fish. The lake flows into the historical Weymouth harbour, where ferries to France and the Channel Islands dock.

Tourism & other industries

Tourism has for a long time been the largest industry in Weymouth, though tourism has declined a little as international tourism has grown. As well as its large, shallow sandy beach Weymouth has several museums and an aquarium. The town is also a gateway town situated approximately half-way along Jurassic Coast world heritage site, a 95 mile stretch of the coast important for its geology and unique landforms. In 1995 Weymouth and Portland received almost 500,000 visitors, of which 16,000 were from overseas. Visitors spent UKú76.2 million in the town in 1995². In 2002 the Nothe Fort museum had 12,000 visitors, and the Brewer's Quay Timewalk museum had 41,000 visitors³.

The port is small but still has a fishing fleet and takes passenger ferries to the Channel Islands and Cherbourg in France. The countryside surrounding Weymouth is less agricultural than the valleys in the centre and north of the county, but has some dairy and arable farms. In 1999 the town centre had 221 shops and 6km² of industrial estates. The high-street clothes designer New Look is based in the town.

Transport

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John_Constable_027.jpg
Bay of Weymouth, John Constable, 1816

The 19th Century railway station at Weymouth had four platforms and, by the time of its demise, a large gap between two of the tracks which had once been taken up by sidings. Although its size had at one point been fully appropriate for the intense rail traffic that came into and out of Weymouth on busy summer Saturdays, it was an oversized white elephant by the time it was demolished in 1986. A smaller, modern station took up part of the site, while the rest of the old station site was given over to commercial development.

The town is situated on the A354 road, which connects the town to the A35 trunk road in Dorchester, and which terminates at Easton on Portland. The road bypasses the town centre, but the busy road follows its original route through the suburb of Upwey, where traffic problems are common at peak tourist times. Plans to bypass Upwey have been discussed since the late 1980s, but have been held up by lack of funding and opposition by residents and environmental groups. The A353 road runs east from the town to the Isle of Purbeck and Wareham.

Culture, recreation and sport

The local football team, Weymouth F.C., have remained below the Football League for their entire history, but in common with many other non-League clubs, they went professional in 2005. They have enjoyed erratic success at their level over the years, on at least two occasions reaching the third round of the FA Cup (where the top clubs enter the competition), and are currently underachieving in the Conference South league (the sixth level of English football, and the highest level that does not take in the whole of England). They currently play at the out-of-town Wessex Stadium, but until 1987 they played at a ground near the town centre, the site of which is now taken up by an ASDA supermarket. The club's move predated the move to new out-of-town grounds by professional league clubs, and came at a time when there had been no new league football stadia opened in England for 32 years.

References

  1. Census 2001 data from either Dorset County Council factsheet (http://www1.dorsetcc.gov.uk/LIVING/FACTS/Census2001.nsf/6cadf4da179fc19500256663004afece/2bab49242b88786080256d41003356b6?OpenDocument) or the Office for National Statistics data (http://neighbourhood.statistics.gov.uk/Matching_Areas.asp?nsid=false&CE=True&SE=True&AREA=Weymouth&LA1=Weymouth%20and%20Portland&CTY1=Dorset&AID1=175615&MT1=GAZ&NM1=Weymouth&CW1=0&LA2=Weymouth%20and%20Portland&CTY2=Dorset&AID2=175615&MT2=LA&NM2=Weymouth%20and%20Portland&CW2=0&LA3=Weymouth%20and%20Portland&CTY3=Dorset&AID3=180549&MT3=WARD&NM3=Weymouth%20East&CW3=0&LA4=Weymouth%20and%20Portland&CTY4=Dorset&AID4=180550&MT4=WARD&NM4=Weymouth%20West&CW4=0).
  2. 1995 tourism data from Dorset County Council facts and figures (http://www1.dorsetcc.gov.uk/LIVING/FACTS/LandUseData.nsf/6cadf4da179fc19500256663004afece/77f5c3a61bcb8697802569970045d9ef?OpenDocument).
  3. 2002 tourist attraction visitor numbers from Dorset County Council facts and figures (http://www1.dorsetcc.gov.uk/LIVING/FACTS/LandUseData.nsf/6cadf4da179fc19500256663004afece/cb589f955aaeba1c80256f1e003d8c62?OpenDocument).

External links

no:Weymouth, Dorset

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