Walk 49: Weymouth Town Walk: Beware the Black Death

The ‘Needs to Know’

Distance: About 2 miles (3.22 km)

Time to walk: This one’s amongst shops, the harbour, fort & esplanade so can either be done quickly, or over say half a day in conjunction with exploring the town

Difficulty: All on hard paths, flat & suitable for all weathers

Parking: Use one of several public car parks around the town – we used the main shopping one

Public toilets: Several, plus no end of bars, cafes etc

Map of the route: None specifically, but a town map’s below


So…what can we tell you about Weymouth. We visited 3 days before Xmas in 2015 &, whilst the weather was mild, we did have to contend with some rain coming in & had to cut the walk short at the end

Weymouth sits in a sheltered bay at the mouth of the River Wey on the English Channel coast. The town is the third largest in Dorset after Bournemouth & Poole. It’s a tourist resort & its economy depends on the harbour & visitor attractions. It’s also situated halfway along the Jurassic Coast, a World Heritage Site on the Dorset & east Devon coast, important for its geology & landforms

Weymouth Harbour is home to cross-channel ferries, pleasure boats & private yachts. Together with nearby Portland Harbour it was where the sailing events of the 2012 Olympic Games & Paralympic Games were held

We’ll have a look at some more of the history as we go so…

Let’s Walk!

1. Our walk starts & ends at the fabulous Jubilee Clock on Weymouth Esplanade…



‘Jubilee Clock’ is a term used in reference to a number of clocks constructed & erected throughout the British Empire in commemoration of the Golden or Diamond Jubilee of various British monarchs, most commonly, Queen Victoria’s


Erected in 1887 to mark the 50th year of Queen Victoria’s reign, the Jubilee Clock was originally positioned on a stone base on Weymouth sands, but in the 1920s the Esplanade was built around it to protect the sands from the encroachment of shingle from the eastern end of the beach. It is a Grade II listed building

The clock is one of Weymouth’s best-loved landmarks & has been a meeting place for generations of both locals & visitors & is the focal point of Weymouth’s New Year’s Eve celebrations. Weymouth beach’s also superb, but today, 4 days before Xmas was somewhat deserted


2. Cross the road from the Tower & head down King Street…



3. Clever naming of a pub along here..


Pass the railway station on the right…


4. At the traffic lights cross straight over Radipole Park Drive into the entrance to one of the UK’s most famous RSPB Nature Reserves…



Radipole Reserve is one of the most important in the UK for birds migrating south & north. It was declared a bird sanctuary in 1929 & has been managed by the RSPB since 1976


It’s also been designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest & the reedbeds are home to many rare birds including Cetti Warblers & Bitterns


5. Cross diagonally left across the car park towards the road bridge…



6. Follow the River Wey – there’s some nice dining places along here

The Palm House Cafe


…& on the right the very attractive floating boat restaurant known as Ghurka



Waiting for a Chinese…


7. Follow the path by the water round to the bridge…


The bridge is actually a dam that controls the water level in the reserve


8. Cross the road, turning left then right along the narrow path beside the marina…



This new walkway was built in 2001. The Weymouth Marina provides berths for more than a thousand craft ranging from large yachts to small fishing day boats



There’s one here about Sir David Attenborough


Modern ones…



…& some day fishing boats


9. The marina kicks away to the right, but we follow the road to the left…




10. Keep going as we’re entering the old port


Pass or call in at The Sailor’s Return


11. We’re now entering into what we thought was the best part of Weymouth – the old harbour


The town bridge’s ahead so pass under, then turn straight left & up the steps



This bridge was built in 1930 on the top of earlier ones. The first one was built in 1594 & before that you crossed by pulled rope. The two sides of the community did not get on!

12. Turn left over the bridge…


…& then left down beautiful Trinity Road


The elegant bow-fronted houses along here date back to the 18th & 19th centuries



13. At the end of Trinity Road is the old Town Pump…


The pump used to be sited at North Quay where the beginning of old Weymouth’s High Street is. The plaque on it reads: “Weymouth Old Town Pump erected 1775 at West Plains (North Quay) moved here 1990”

14. Turn right down Trinity Street just before the pump as there’s several interesting buildings down here. The first on the left’s Trinity House, a fine Georgian building…



Next door’s an Elizabethan town house that became part of Weymouth’s first Assembly Rooms in the 1760’s when a new wing was added at the rear for balls & concerts


Just a bit further down on the other side of the road’s the Tudor House. This building once stood on the harbour edge & was built at the end of the 16th century



15. Turning back towards the harbour, on the left’s Hope Chapel…


…& then back at the harbour-side turn right & continue along Cove Row…



It’s a beautiful area


16. The area continues into Hope Street which was once on the water’s edge of the ‘ope’ or ‘cove’. It was filled in in 1782



Carry on over the bridge crossing the slipway…



17. The Lifeboat station’s along here & one of the boats is out. The last time we were here the inshore boat was practicing…



The station is on the right…


…& over the other side of the harbour’s a fabulous tall ship


18. At the end of the quay turn right through the gate & up the steps towards the Nothe Fort…



Note the iron rail on either side of the steps which was a tramway for ammunition trucks going to & from the fort

19. At the top turn left & follow the path through the gardens…


There’s some very tame squirrels along here



20. Nothe Fort is at the end of the peninsular…



The coastal defence was built between 1860 & 1872 by 26th Company of the Royal Engineers to protect Portland’s harbour, which was then becoming an important Royal Navy base. Shaped like the letter D, the fort’s guns covered the approaches to both Portland & Weymouth harbours. The design included bomb proof casemates for cannons arranged around the circular sides, & deep magazines beneath the straight, landward side. The fort played an important role in World War II, when the harbour was used as base by the British & American navies

It’s more impressive when seen from out at sea…


The fort was abandoned in 1956 & in 1961 was purchased by the local council. It’s now a museum & remains one of the most well preserved forts of its kind in the country. The fort & its outer gateway has been a Grade II listed building since June 1974

21. Follow the path back round through the gardens where there’s fine views over Portland Harbour which is the second largest man-made harbour in the world…



…turning right up the hill opposite ‘Boris’…



22. Exit the park through the gate on the left…


following the road down & round to the left…



23. Pass the Nothe Tavern on the right…


…keeping straight on down the hill where there’s an interesting sundial on the wall on the right



There’s also a large Sea Cadet Training Centre on the left…


24. At the bottom of the hill the street bends sharp right passing some old cottages on the corner…



We couldn’t find any more information on the property. Carry on straight down the next hill turning right into Hope Square, one of Weymouth’s most attractive areas


The large complex ahead’s the old Devilish Brewery, which we’ll look at more closely when we enter the square itself



25. Turn left into the square where the facade of the imposing old brewery can now be seen in all its glory…


Some of this building dates back to 1869, but the Dutch facade was built in 1904. Beer was brewed on the site for hundreds of years, since at least 1252. It was chosen as the site for a brewery as water was available from a spring at Chapelhay & nearby at Radipole there were barley fields. In 1742 the brewery was owned by the Flew family before the Devenish family took over the entire site at the building in the 1820s. They continued brewing beer here up until 1985

Once the brewery closed in 1985, the building was transformed into a shopping centre which later also closed. It reopened in 2013 with approximately 50 traders & a museum

26. There’s some nice pubs with open areas in the square & it must be a hive of activity in the summer months…


Our exit from Hope Square is up the steep hill on the left…


27. At the top turn right into Herbert Place…


…& then immediately right again along Hartlebury Terrace




28. Continue left up Trinity Terrace where these small bow-windowed houses date back to the 1830’s – they all have great views across Weymouth Bay




29. Have a look above each of the doors – the carvings are all individual





There’s a fine view over the Marina from the end of the Terrace, but the weather ( & rain ) was now becoming heavy so it was rather murky


30. Turn right down the steps…


…& round to Trinity Church


Trinity Church was designed by Philip Wyatt & built in 1836. Originally the church faced east as is the custom, but by the mid-1880s a growing congregation prompted an extensive enlargement which included reorientation of the interior & repositioning of the high altar to its current site. The large crypt has served many purposes including as an air-raid shelter during the Second World War

31. You may have noticed we’re now back at the handsome Town Bridge so cross back over…


…& down the steps we came up earlier


32. This time though don’t go back under the bridge. Instead continue along the other side of the harbour known as Custom House Quay. The flat building on the left’s The Old Fishmarket…


The Fishmarket dates back to 1855 & was built as a place for local fishermen to sell their catches. Today it’s still the place to buy fish in Weymouth


33. Carry on to Vaughan’s Bistro where there’s a black plaque on the wall…


The plaque marks the point where a trading vessel docked in 1348. This was the vessel that brought The Black Death to England


The Black Death was one of the most devastating pandemics in human history, resulting in the deaths of an estimated 75 to 200 million people & peaking in Europe in the years 1346–53. It’s thought to have originated in Central Asia, where it then travelled along the Silk Road, reaching Crimea by 1343. From there, it was most likely carried by Oriental rat fleas living on the black rats that were regular passengers on merchant ships. Spreading throughout the Mediterranean and Europe, the Black Death is estimated to have killed 30–60% of Europe’s total population. In total, the plague reduced the world population from an estimated 450 million down to 350–375 million in the 14th century. The world population as a whole did not recover to pre-plague levels until the 17th century. It recurred occasionally in Europe until the 19th century

34. Pass the Royal Dorset Yacht Club to arrive at the rather splendid Custom House…


It was built in the late 18th century to allow a merchant to be able to oversee his interests from his own home. It remained the Custom House until 1985 & is now the office of the Harbour Master

35. Although the picture doesn’t really show it the weather was now awful & the camera equipment was getting really wet so we had to abandon the walk at this point

However, it’s not far to complete it so, on a nice day, continue to follow the quayside to the end where you’ll find the ferry terminal & the Pavilion Theatre


The original theatre opened in 1908, but was destroyed by fire in 1954

From the theatre it’s now simply a case of following the lovely Esplanade back to the Clock tower where we started

So that’s Weymouth! What’s our thoughts? Well afterwards we had a quick look around the town itself & would definitely say that our walk took in the best bits

We especially liked the quayside quarter, Nothe Fort, where we could imagine sitting on the grass on a glorious summers day watching the yachts in the harbours below, & the Hope Square area

It’s well worth a visit – but check the death forecast first!

Go Walk!