The Great Escape from Portland Prison 1868;

Anyone living in the Weymouth  area  while Portland was still a main stream prison  will have memories of the horrendous traffic jams along Chesil Beach Road, caused by the pursuit of escaped prisoners. All vehicles leaving the island would be stopped and searched, checking for the concealment of the said escapees. As a young child it caused no end…

Misdemeanours and misfits in the Victorian courts; 1863.

I just love to browse the old newspapers and see what our ancestors were up to. The papers columns are filled with intriguing snippets of their daily lives, the usual hatch, match and dispatches, arrivals and departures, accidents and fights, and the misfortunes of those whose day to day activities managed to fall foul of…

1867; Danger Lurks in Portland Quarries.

The quarries on Portland are world renown. They are of  a strange type of brutal beauty, the glare from the white stone is blinding in the bright sunshine, the heat reflects mercilessly from the  calcified remains that makes up the huge slabs that tumble and totter precariously all around. Ultimately, their beauty belies the ever present…

1862; Portland prison, The Pleasantness of Penal Servitude.

These facts are taken from an article penned by an unnamed author in the Cheltenham Chronicle of 23rd December 1862 and yes, that is genuinely what he titles his article…. The Pleasantness of Penal Servitude! They relate to the prison that was built on Portland to contain the convict labour force for building the Portland breakwater…

1906; The Portland boy buccaneers.

Slightly out of the Victorian era I know, but only just. This story caught my eye as it summed up the excitement and invincibility of childhood, feelings of the exciting escapades of the Famous Five, even though the lads involved were more teenagers, and the story had it’s slightly dark side. In the April of…

1865; Portland…keeping it in the family.

I know that Portland is not technically an island, (the Chesil causeway connects it to Weymouth), but it’s treated as such in many respects, not least that the folks on the island (I.m sure that being a proud race, they won’t mind me saying) have a long history of being fairly insular! nd When a…

1866; Portland quarry men and boys…theyz toils ‘n toils.

Portland is world famous for it’s quarries. This Isle is littered with immense craters in the ground, and large roughly hewn blocks of stone tumble in seemingly haphazard piles across the almost lunar landscape. There’s absolutely no doubt that those men and boys who slogged away day in day out in the quarries at Portland earnt…

St George’s churchyard at Portland. Murder in 1803

Now I.m not one of these people who normally likes to wander from church to church, but was stopped in my tracks (well, the car was stopped in it’s tracks really)  when we parked opposite St George’s church on the top of Portland. The sun was just beginning to set in the sky, going down…

Portlands own Jurassic finds 1837

Only when you read the old newspapers do you realise what a rich tapestry of life runs through the area. A little snippet appeared in the June of 1837’s newspapers. Over on Portland Mr Richard Lane owned and ran a quarry there.  One day, while the men were hard at work, a large block of…