Situated in the English Channel 8 miles south of Weymouth is the island of Portland, the most southerly point in Dorset. Technically known as a ‘tied’ island, Portland is served by the A534 road, which runs from the mainland.
Having been inhabited since Neolithic times, Portland has a rich history, having been home over the years to a variety of pirates, crooks and convicts, as well as sailors, military garrisons and artists. It also forms a central part of the Jurassic Coast, and is world renowned for its landforms,fossils and geology. On its southernmost tip stands Portland Bill, a narrow strip of Portland Stone on which perhaps Britain’s most famous lighthouse stands. With over 300,000 visitors a year, the lighthouse and visitor centre is Portland’s most popular attraction, and opens from Easter to October. Visitors can enjoy tours of the lighthouse and various displays about Portland’s rich geological and natural heritage, as well as browse the well-stocked gift shop.
The other major tourist attraction on Portland is the Portland Museum, which is located in two seventeenth century cottages in the beautiful hamlet of Wakeham. Founded by perhaps Portland’s most famous former resident, Marie Stopes (the pioneer of modern birth control) it offers visitors of all ages a rich historical experience. It houses four major collections, Portland People, Portland Stone, Jurassic Fossils and Portland’s Maritime History and is open Sunday to Thursday throughout the summer.
Just to the south of Weymouth and across a narrow causeway is the amazing Isle of Portland renowned for it’s coastal walks with stunning views, harsh high cliffs and home of the best building stone in the UK. Other things that you might have heard about Portland:
- There’s a Prison on Portland.
- There’s a Young Offenders Institute on Portland, you may have caught the Football behind Bars program that Ian Wright hosted from there.
- It’s bad luck to mention the word Rabbits on the Island due to local folklore.
- Portland Harbour is the venue for the 2012 Olympics Sailing Events.
- Portland Stone helped rebuild London after the great fire.
- Portland Bill at the most southerly tip of the island has a famous lighthouse.
You can find out more about Portland by visiting our sister site here.