History of Weymouth

Historic Weymouth :-

pliosaur200 to 140 million years ago – Jurassic Coast formed.
Mostly marine life – ammonites, ichthyosaurs, plesiosaurs and crocodiles

trex140 to 65 million years ago – Cretaceous Period
Brackish lagoons and swamps, followed by tilting of the crust and marine submersion – mass extinction of dinosaurs, emergence of mammals, flowering plants and grasses become the dominant land species

1 million to 10,000 years ago – The Ice Ages, little or no evidence for Paleolithic or Neolithic settlement (from about 4,000 years ago)paleoman

About 1800 BC – Bronze age settlers arrived from Brittany (Beaker civilisation)

About 750 BC  – Iron Age Celtic invaders displaced earlier settlers

About 100 BC –  Belgae migrants brought farming methods from the Low Countries


After AD 47 – Vespasian founded Durnovaria (Dorchester) and the small river port of Clavinium (near Radipole Lake). The Romans left in the 5th century.

AD 787 to 1052 – Viking raids – mass graves of beheaded Vikings have been found during the excavations for the Weymouth relief roadviking-remains-mass-grave

AD 1110 – King Henry 1st granted the manors of Wike, Waimouth, Helwell, Portland and Melecum (“The Mill in the Valley”) to priors at St Swythun’s, Winchester.

1252 – Prior of St Swythun’s granted a charter to Weymouth and the Port was born

1348 – The Black Death arrived in Melcombe and spread throughout Britain

1377 and 1386 – French pirate raids caused the wool staple trade to move to Poole

By 1428 – Weymouth was the 3rd most important gateway for pilgrims heading for Compostella, Loretto and Jerusalem. A Dominican Friary was built, occupying land which now lies between St Albans St, Maiden St and Governor’s Lane.

1471 – Queen Margaret landed with Prince Edward in a doomed attempt to restore the Throne of Lancaster but her son was killed, she was captured and the War of the Roses was ended

1571 – Parliament passed an act to unite Weymouth and Melcombe, following many years of disputes and rivalry over profits from the Port.

1586 – Nicholas Abraham and J. Lambert returned from prison in Bilbao with rumours of the Spanish Armada.

1588 –  6 ships sailed from Weymouth, together with 33 ships from other British ports defeating the 139 ships of the Spanish.

1592 – Weymouth’s coat of arms presented (3-masted ship)coat of arms

1598 – Weymouth permitted by Queen Elizabeth I to return 4 members to parliament, the only borough outside London to be allowed this privilege till 1832

1623 – Robert Gorges sailed to Wessagusset, New England, became Governor and re-named the town “Weymouth”

1645 – Several hundred men slain in Civil War action

smugglers1751 – Increased taxation on spirits led to the rise of several smuggling gangs

1789 – King George visited Weymouth for the first time

1805 – The Earl of Abergavenny sank in Weymouth Bay – 261 souls were lost
King George’s last visit to Weymouth – commemorated in 1808 by the carving of the White Horseman in the hills above Osmington

1824 – The Great Gale destroyed the Esplanade

1857 – The Great Western Railway and London and South Western Railway companies came to Weymouth. The line to Portland and the Harbour tramway both opened in 1865

1860 – The Nothe Fort was built, remaining active till 1956

1887 – The Jubilee Clock was built to commemorate 50 years of Victoria’s ruleclock

1930 – The 6th Town Bridge was built across the Harbour

1944 to 1945 – 517,846 troops and 144,093 vehicles embarked for Normandy

1954 – The 1908 Pavilion burned down, reopening in 1960

1994 – Weymouth became the only port to host the start of the Tall Ships race for the third time

2012 – Olympic Sailing Events held in Weymouth (strictly Portland Harbour) – A sporting success, especially for Ben Ainslie (Gold), but a commercial flop for local businesses