PORTLAND BILL, DORSET

Grid Ref:SY 677 683
Date: 14 March 2013

 

 

View from Portland Bill
View from Portland Bill to Portland Harbour and the Dorset coast
Pulpit Rock
Pulpit Rock on Portland Bill
Lighthouse
Lighthouse at Portland Bill with evidence of quarrying in the foreground

I could not count the number of times that I have heard the BBC radio weather forecast and heard of Portland Bill, which conjures up the image of a rather stout seaman. However, it took me into my mid-60s before I finally explored the peninsula with a group on a photography weekend with HF at Lulworth Cove. Portland is almost an island, tethered to the rest of Dorset by a strand of shingle at the end of the Chesil Beach as shown in my first picture.

Apart from its magificent views and its lighthouse, Portland Bill is famous for its stone quarries. The stone is Jurassic limestone and occurs in beds alternating with chert a stone similar to the flint found in chalk beds. Portland stone has been extensively used in public buildings in London, perhaps most notably St. Paul's Cathedral designed by Sir Christopher Wren. It was built to replace old St. Paul's, destroyed in the Great Fire of London in 1666 and was consecrated in 1697 with work continuing until 1711 when Parliament declared in complete. Other fine examples of the use of Portland stone are the Banquetting House in Whitehall designed by Inigo Jones and built between 1619 and 1622 and the Cenotaph in Whitehall, designed by Edwin Lutyens and completed in 1920.

There have been three lighthouses on Portland Bill. The current one was started in 1903 and constructed by Wakeham Brothers of Plymouth. The lighthouse was completed in 1905. The lens rotates by floating in a tank of mercury. On a clear night the light can be seen from a distance of 18 miles. The red and white colour scheme is very distinctive. The Old Lower and Old Higher Lighthouses were superseded by the new one and sold at auction in 1907

Sources

Wikipedia articles on Portland Stone, and Portland Bill

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