Friday, 8 February 2013

Stories from this week

Many thanks to Wey Valley students who attended the workshop on Tuesday, lots of clay maquettes made and lots of good ideas. Please keep them coming...

As a child I remember stories about Bincombe Hill. Fairy music could be heard from beneath the ground. There are also stories about a Weymouth sea monster called Viasta? Half fish, half seahorse . My Dad worked for Vickers, testing torpedoes in Weymouth bay, he told me he once saw a Dolphin chase a torpedo as it went through the water.
Best of luck

Hello Andy
As a lifetime Weymouth resident, I'd like to share with you some of my fond memories and stories about the town (though some come from my own Mother who passed away a few years back):

 The Ritz Theatre once stood where the Pavilion is now. I remember the day it burned down. The word went round Westham and everyone rushed down to the beach to watch. There were hundreds gathered to watch this beautiful iconic, Victorian building go up in flames - because it was built from wood and they just could not get the blaze under control. There are photos on the walls in Sutton Coffee shop (St. Albans Street in town), taken on that day. Although only a child at the time, I remember it vividly.
The Ferries Train used to run along the quay. A section of the line (which is still there today as a reminder), peeled off next to the railway station and headed for the harbour. The old British Rail Trains which used it, went very slowly as people, bikes and cars milled around as normal - health and safety was a lesser consideration then! The priority was to get travellers to their Sealink Ferry on time, down at the embarkation point. A man with a flag walked in front of the trains - and a whistle I think - and often there would be a car parked in its was, meaning the train was stopped (holiday makers hanging out of the window to see what the delay was!), while the driver was found, usually in one of the pubs lining the train's route. It used to go so slowly along the quay that the pub drinkers would take on dares to run under the train from one side to the other, with their pint in hand if I recall!

 Beach Bonfires used to be lit by anyone who wanted to haul the wood down to the beach to build a pile in readiness for Guy Fawkes Night. This was again before Health and Safety restricted the celebration to one big corporate one, fenced off from the masses. There could be 20 bonfires lit on the night, and each groups of kids or family with their own fireworks display. A sight to behold!
Bandstands used to punctuate Weymouth from the Pier Bandstand (blown up in the 80s and never replaced for the Millennium as promised!), in the middle of the beach, to the Jubilee Clock and right along the esplanade to the Alexandra Gardens. Each of the 3 bandstands had big bands playing regularly just before WWII and my Mother used to stroll in her finery between each of these on a summer's evening, dancing to the big bands which played in each. She told me of the packed dance floors and the atmosphere and that when the band took a break, they would play the latest Glen Miller records from America, to which people would continue dancing. There was also a bandstand in the Nothe Gardens, overlooking the harbour, which I remember being taken to as a girl for a picnic. Here though, there were brass rather than big bands, playing up until the 1950s. Dancing and rollerskating were popular pastimes for all, throughout the middle of the last century and venues included the Pavilion and the Sydney Hall (where the Asda store now stands).

 Brummy Fortnight was when all the factories in Birmingham shut for the same two weeks and all the workers and their families got the train to Weymouth for their holidays. I remember the trains arriving at the old station (another timber building), packed with these visitors, with their luggage loaded onto carts, headed for their regular sea front hotel. For the next two weeks the Brummy accent was everywhere in the town!
Alexandra Gardens Theatre, I remember being taken to as a child and seeing Bruce Forsyth! A lot of big names used to do shows and Gilbert and Sullivan Operas played there. There's nothing like that now. I believe that burnt down too.

I hope these are of interest and perhaps of use to you in your project. I look forward to seeing the outcome!


I would like to suggest some sort of reference to George III and his early bathing exploits. After all, he was responsible for introducing this leisure activity to the area. The long presence of Naval activity within the bay is also of great import (Spanish armada, naval harbour and underwater weapons base on Portland).

 Regards DW

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