Weymouth’s harbour area; Brewers Quay

If there’s one area that I love to mooch around  in Weymouth, it is the area around a spot named Brewer’s Quay for rather obvious reasons, if properly named, it’s Hope Square.

This area has a lot of history, not least that it was where the breweries in the past chucked out that distinctive cooked hops aroma from their tall chimneys..It is said that brewing had taken place in this area in one form or another ever since 1252.


The large Devenish Brewery buildings  once housed the workers who saw to the fermentation process, many living in the small houses and cottages that surround the area.


Once its life as a brewery was finished in 1985, it became an indoor shopping area, and the Time-walk, one of Weymouth’s top attractions for tourists, and the local museum. you could even have a tour of the old brewing areas, see an old steam engine working, gaze at the gleaming vats that once held the liquid gold.

Then some bright spark decided that it was ripe for development in time for the 2012 Sailing Olympics…all the businesses were turfed out, Time Walk and Museum shut…and that was that!

During the Olympics, when visitors flocked to this area on their way up to the Nothe, this big edifice stood empty and very much deserted!


But the pubs and restaurants around the square filled the area with tables and chairs, music and song, dancing and jiving, the area came alive again…


The old brewery has been opened again now, filled with antique shops, bric a brac centres and crafts, it’s lovely for a mooch on a cold Sunday’s afternoon, and a spot of lunch in one of the numerous surrounding eateries.


We’re still waiting for the museum to be relocated back there…how on earth can a town like Weymouth, with so much history be without a museum? It’s complete madness!


Across the way was the Groves Brewery, this too no longer serves its original purpose, now it houses people in their luxury apartments.


Take a meander to the other side of the square, just behind the Devenish buildings is the old stable blocks where the great dray horses were kept. They would plod along the streets, carts packed with the giant wooden kegs that were ready to be dropped down the hatches that opened up in the ground to the cellars below the pubs. Always a fearsome sight to a small child, the heat and strange smells that rose from these black holes in the pavements always whispered of evil spirits and dark places where children could be locked away…


Now instead of hooves on cobbles and  sweet smelling straw in mangers,  they contain holiday lets and sweet dreams of lazy sunny days to be enjoyed.


How I long to raise my face skyward and smell that strange but sweet and sickly smell again…



Writing a book, blog, short stories or your own family history, then why not make them jump off the page, bring them to life with historical graphics.
I have a huge collection that cover illustrations from numerous Victorian articles about travel, prisons, children’s homes, poverty, philanthropy…
Check out my Etsy site for Victorian illustrations, many more, including local ones being added all the time from my own personal collection.


Related articles


1889; Girl held against her will at Broadwey?

With all the media reports on the news recently concerning the shocking story of the 3 women imprisoned as slaves, Weymouth had it’s own version of the sorry tale back in 1889.

Sarah Guy was born in 1865 into a less than ideal and loving family home.

Her Dad John was a violent drunk, and her Mum Sophy was a woman who had been cowed down by life and her dire circumstances. Most of the time the family lived in dire poverty.

They lived in New Street, with the Dad working, when he was sober enough, as a Wheelchair man, they would ply their trade along the esplanade, pushing invalids in the large wicker chairs.

4 times weymouth

As the facts of the case were revealed over the weeks, we can catch a glimpse into their world. Sarah had obviously turned to prostitution to support herself, a case of when needs must. By the time she was 23 she already had an illegitimate child,  who had been removed into the care of the Union Workhouse.


It wasn’t unusual for young Sarah her to come ‘home’ and find her few clothes that she possessed had been pawned so that her Dad could buy drink, or no furniture left in the house and her Dad in his cups. He would often strike young Sarah, viciously lashing out at her if she didn’t give him any money. She began bringing men back to the house, who would give her Dad money to go any buy beer. One man in particular became a regular visitor, a chap by the name of Frederick Burt. He was a cab owner, and had stables in Broadwey where he kept his carriage and horses.

Frederick it was said was a married man, but he lived separately from his wife.

In the July of 1888 Sarah just vanished!

Her Dad John says he had approached Frederick Burt numerous times and asked him if he has seen his daughter, but his answer had always been no, that he thought she had run off to London. At one instance Frederick even told her father that he wouldn’t be surprised if the Ripper had got her!

Whether the Dad had even bothered to try and find her we’ll never know the truth. Probably the only thing that had annoyed him was that without her in the house selling her scraggy body…he received no beer money from her punters.

For weeks no one saw anything of Sarah… that passed into months…maybe she really had run away?

That was until one day in 1889.

On the 14th March, 1889, late one night, Annie Martin, the family cook in the home of Dr and Mrs Brown was clearing up the kitchen,

the light was on, the blinds pulled up. Suddenly, a frantic knocking on the door startled her, she looked out into the dark but couldn’t quite make out who it was. Scared, she ran up stairs to get her Mistress, both women came down and got the shock of their lives.

There, in the kitchen, huddled in a chair was a dirty, half starved girl, her eyes bulging out of her sockets from fear, crying “Burty will kill me! Oh! Burty will kill me!”, an  iron bar clenched in her hand…was this an escaped lunatic?

What should they do?

The girl was muttering over and over that the man called Burt, and others wanted to do for her…

The cook was quickly dispatched next door to where Colonel Tapper Carter lived. He would know what to do. But even he was flummoxed by this sorry piece of what had once been a human being, she was hardly recognisable as one one, curled in a tiny ball, muttering of murder and other foul deeds. She would tell them to “Hush…listen..” and kept repeating the names Miller and Baker.

Still believing the slip of a girl to be an escaped lunatic, the Colonel and his maid, Isabella Cruikshank,  led her gently next door, where she was bathed, given clean clothes and put into bed. She kept repeating the chilling words “murder” to Isabella, who just took them to be the product of a troubled mind. she had tried to feed her some food for Sarah had told her that she hadn’t eaten in days, but every time she tried to eat or drink, she brought it back up again.

Back in the doctor’s household, things seemed to have quietened down, but then Annie the cook looked out of the kitchen window, only to see Frederick Burt creeping around at the bottom of their garden, he appeared to be searching in the bushes and hedges for something. What was the man doing, was he mixed up with this.

By now the police in the guise of Sergeant Joshua Rackham had arrived at the Colonels house, he was summonsed back to the Doctor’s house, and after going out to talk to Burt, he cuffed the man, and took him in for trespassing on the Doctor’s land. The deranged girl had told him a story about being held prisoner, and a conversation she had overheard, men talking in the stable, she had crept to door,“I have got her there, and I must get rid of her.”

They needed to sort this mess out, what on earth had been going on?

At the end of March 1889, at the  County Petty Sessional Court, Dorchester, Frederick Burt was accused of having held the missing girl Sarah Guy captive against her will. She apparently had been held in a dirty, dark shed next to his stables,  it measured 10ft x 5ft x 4ft tall, with very little in it bar a box, and a couple of sacks.

Sarah had allegedly been held here against her will for nearly nine months, too scared to try and escape because Frederick had threatened what dire things would happen to her of she tried.

Frederick Burt was brought before the courts, he stayed partly hidden in the jury box, the court full of mainly women who made no attempt to hide their feelings of anger towards the disgusting man.

The problem was Sarah was too ill to attend court herself.

Burt was summonsed for “unlawfully imprisoning Sarah Guy”.

It was decided that the case should be adjourned on the grounds that she was not well enough to give her evidence, Burt maintained his innocence, he said she was his sweetheart, he was only protecting her from her vicious father

But he was accused of having locked her up in a small shed, subjected her to such brutal ill-treatment as to derrange her intellect.suffering acute consumption.

A letter was read out from Dr Simpson.

“Gloucester Row, Weymouth,

22nd March.

I hearby certify that Sarah Guy, now an inmate of the Weymouth Workhouse, is not in a condition to appear as a witness at Dorchester to-morrow. Her mental condition, which was clear and lucid on Sunday last, has undergone a considearble change during the current week; and she is unable now to return satisfactory answers to any queations put to her, or to make and coherent ststement. Under these circumstances it is my intention to arrange for her removal to the County Asylum, where, I trust, under special treatment, she may recover sufficiently to attend at Dorchester; and, if not, the opinion as to her future sanity will have been reported on by those most competant to judge of it.-


The case was adjourned until April 6th.

Burt was given bail and bound over to the sum of £50, with his brother George as security.

Frederick left left the Dorchester court, but a large angry crowd had gathered outside, the  hostile mob booing and hitting him as he passed along Trinity Street and Princes Street on his way back to the railway station. Four policeman had accompanied him, they too were on the receiving end of the crowds displeasure at this monster being able to walk free. By the time they’d reached the gates of the London & South Western Railway Station yard, so intense was the hallooing and violence towards Burt, that the police decided that it might be better of they took him into the safety of the County Police Station. From here he made his escape over the back wall and back to his home.

Frederick was brought back into the courts to face charges, but Sarah’s condition hadn’t improved, in fact, if anything she was worse. The solicitor for the defendant said that it was unfair on his client, the newspapers had cause great ill feeling towards his client. They should either charge him or let him go. As Sarah was unable to appear in court to accuse Frederick of the heinous crimes it was with great regret that the Bench decided to dismiss the case.


Once again a large and angry mob had gathered outside the courtroom waiting for this man who had allegedly got off scott free with the brutal kidnapping and imprisonment in inhumane conditions of Sarah Guy. A young girl who was now loosing her mind due to  of his heartless and cruel actions, and because she couldn’t give evidence…he was being freed!

They hinted at a further case that might be brought should things change…and they did.


When another case came to court again in the May of 1889, this time held at the New Asylum in Charminster, circumstances had changed dramatically, it was the inquest into her death..

Being severely malnourished, and also ill from consumption, Sarah had died in the May in the Asylum.

An inquest had been held into her death. The juror’s, made up of locals from the near by village were led in to view the emaciated body of Sarah.

One of the nurses at the Asylum, Julia Boyd, gave evidence, she  told of her frequent conversations with Sarah, who had admitted to living a wicked life, but she never spoke of being kept captive or being starved of food. The doctor who had attended her claimed that she was extremely emaciated, had advanced lung disease (consumption) and that she wasn’t very often lucid, was always afraid, and refused to sleep with out a light. He also said that despite their best care, Sarah had just faded away, unconscious for the last few hours before her happy release.

At the post mortem, done by Dr Mc Donald and accompanied by the Weymouth man, Dr Lush they couldn’t really answer many of the questions that the jurors were keen to ask.

Her body was extremely emaciated, but he had seen worse. There were no bruises or discolouration of the skin showing violence. Sarah’s cadaver had no body fat what so ever, both upper lobes of her lungs were severely diseased, containing cavities, not air. The lower parts of her lungs were also diseased. Her liver was enlarged and fatty. On examining the skull, the brain looked very pale, indicating a lack of blood circulation to it, this was caused by her advanced state of illness because of the consumption.

The jury asked if her being confined in a dark and dirty room for months on end could have contributed to this, but the doctor said it was hard to tell.

It was decided that the case should be adjourned until all the evidence could be brought before the jurors, who had also wanted to visit the place where she had supposedly been kept captive for the last few months of her life.


At the second inquest, a Mr Maw attended on behalf of the deceased Sarah, he was there from  the National Vigilance Society.

According to her father John, when questioned, Sarah was prone to running off, coming and going as she wanted. No she wasn’t a prostitute, Frederick might have stopped at the family house, but he slept in a separate bedroom from her. No he didn’t pawn her items for drink, anyway, he was now teetotal! He had asked after her when she went missing, he had asked Burt numerous times if he knew where she was…but no, he never went to Burt’s place of business to see if she was there. The last time he had asked Burt if he knew where she was, was the week Sarah had reappeared, Burt had told him “No, there’s something very strange about it.” then said “I cannot stay now, dad, as I’m ordered; I will see you by and by.” at which he drove off. Apparently when the two men met again on the sea front later that day, Frederick told Sarah’s father that she was definitely in London.

He claimed he wasn’t a bad father, and couldn’t understand why the police had kept coming round their house. Yes, he had drank a bit, but wasn’t that normal for working men? He didn’t beat her, sometimes he just ‘blowed her up!’

There had been an incident last summer before she had vanished for months when he had gone to Burt’s place to find his daughter there, he told her to come home, but Frederick had said to Sarah “What do you want to go with him for? He will knock you about again.” Sarah had returned home with her father that time, but vanished again soon after.

Once on the stand Frederick Burt claimed that Sarah was his sweetheart. They both went to his shed adjoining his stables at Broadway, Sarah went willingly, not wanting to go back home to her fathers house.  He had taken her there to keep her safe from her father. He had given her  a ring, despite the fact that he was already married! Sarah stayed willingly in the shed, she had wanted to be locked in at night to keep her safe.

He gave a statement;” I live at Broadwey, and am occupier of stables and premises there. Have known the deceased about two years. She was living with her father, and had a child aged 12 months. I used to go with her from time to time at her fathers house, and have been there when other men have come for a simiar purpose. Have been there stopping in the house for three weeks or a month together, and her father was  aware of the relations between us, and has been in the same room. He had given the father money for beer abd food sometimes when he had been with the deceased. He remembered an occasion about a year ago returning with her to her fathers house and finding him beastly drunk. He was often in that condition. He asked her for money, and because she had none to give him he was about to assault her, when witness prevented him, and took her away. She asked him to take her to the stables; and he allowed her to go and sleep for four or five nights in the carriage at the coach-house. That was the first time she had stayed there. After that time she would come there and stay for a day or two; and he would go and stay with her at her fathers house. Witness stayed there with her every night during the Yeomanry week in her fathers house, and he was present. Whenever he slept in the house he slept with the deceased, and the father knew it. He pawned her boots and clothes, and witness gave a woman named Davis the money to go and buy her a new pair. A few days afterwards he met her in the street, and she said that her father had been taken up for drunkenness, and she had no food or money; and she wanted to come back to the stable. She stayed about a fortnight, and on one morning-witness believed it was the morning he left gaol-her father came and fetched her away, saying he wanted her to go and fetch her child and mother out of the Union.

women in lodging house

The deceased asked witness if she should go or stay, and he told her t please herself. She went, and that same evening she saw witness and asked him about trying to hire a room, because her father had broken up the home and sold it for drink. He offered her money to get a bed, but she said she would rather come away with witness to the stable. She slept in the carriage by night, and lived in the shed by day. She came there on and off until the end of August, and then she came permanently; and witness spent each night with her until January last, when his brothers persuaded him to sleep at home. Each day he always left the key of the coach-house with her, and she frequently got herself ready, and, after locking up the coach-house, put the key under the door, and went into town in broad daylight, and in the evening. Witness and her were together in the town on the night of the Town regatta. She had always remained of her own free will.”

But the prosecution pointed out that he had  padlocked the door from outside. Though he had given her food, she had no bed, no change of clothes, she was completely naked when her undergarments washed.

The case was yet again adjourned !


During the next day the case resumed  when much confusing and conflicting evidence was given.

The maid who worked in the house and garden of the Doctor that the cabman’s shed had backed onto claimed that she had never heard anyone in there, and she would have heard any voices easily when hanging out her washing. The children played in the garden, they had mentioned nothing untoward.

Yet, on another night, the servants bedroom window had been open as it was hot, they had heard some womans voice shout out “murder,” going to the window to listen, they noticed Burt’s stable light kept going on and off,  twice more they heard the same cry, but then it had gone quiet. For what ever reason, the women went back to bed and asleep, only telling their mistress of the strange occurrence the following morning.

When Sarah had been at the house in the care of the Colonel, the maid, Isabella Cruikshank, had tried to remove the rags curled in her hair, but it was so dirty and matted that she couldn’t get them out. She told her of overhearing the men plot to kill her …that is why she had escaped and run for help.

Despite all this damning evidence as to her captivity,  back came the surprising verdict that it was “death from natural causes.” 

Because the doctor couldn’t say how long she had been suffering from consumption, and couldn’t just say that it was her imprisonment that had caused it, there was no alternnate verdict.

Frederick Burt walked away scott free,


As an end note, the next year, on the 2nd March,  little Henry Guy aged 4 was christened at Holy Trinity church, his mother Sarah Guy…deceased.


So, what I wonder, was the truth?

The only certain thing was that young Sarah seemed to have been abused by everyone in her short life…maybe she was better off where she was.


Writing a book, blog, short stories or your own family history, then why not make them jump off the page, bring them to life with historical graphics.
I have a huge collection that cover illustrations from numerous Victorian articles about travel, prisons, children’s homes, poverty, philanthropy…
Check out my Etsy site for Victorian illustrations, many more, including local ones being added all the time from my own personal collection.


Related articles

Weymouth’s Victorian bandstands.

As teenagers we used to spend hours on what was the old pleasure pier…when it was a proper pier, and not just a sorry excuse for what is left of todays pier.

At the end was a place where you could swim from. There were changing rooms, steps down to the water, a slide, diving boards, and all the kids used to congregate there in the summer. On Sundays we used to spread our towels on top of the toilets roof and lie down and listen to the town band who would play there of an afternoon. Hundreds of holiday makers would be seated around in deck chairs or in the shelters listening to the music.


I got me to thinking about how sad it was that Weymouth no longer had a proper pier to its name, and how town bands seem to be no longer the popular free entertainment that they used to be in a typical seaside resort.

What happened to all the live music that used to brighten the world of the Victorians right up through to my childhood days?

During the Victorian era the town bands would be all important.

They were vital entertainment for the visitors.

We had numerous beautiful wrought iron band stands at one time or another along our promenade and in the gardens.

Every one gone now!

One was placed in the newly developed Greenhill gardens which was opened to the public in the late 1870’s.

Another was placed along the northern end of the promenade, by Brunswick Terrace, because the town council had decided that all the entertainment was held down the pier end of the town, and that the councillors for the northern end thought that their constituents were  entitled to their fair share too! Here the Victorians would stop and listen to the music of an afternoon or evening while on their constitutional.

The entertainment was provided by the town band, or the military bands that were stationed in Weymouth at the time. some of these were conducted by extremely talented musicians who would write pieces especially for their public performances.


This one was replaced by a the beautiful Pier Bandstand, a supposedly permanent fixture, an ornate art deco styled structure that was built in the 1930’s, with an open top theatre space.


It was a place where the bands played, people danced under the moonlit open skies,(maybe not quite so nice on wet and windy days though!). Very popular with the tourists and locals alike. But after the rather wonky, if not charming legs that I have many fond memories of, were beginning to degrade, the seaward end was  ceremoniously  blown up on the 4th May 1986.


Sadly, all that remains is the much altered end promenade which now houses an amusement arcade and a Chinese restaurant!.

Wander further down the promenade and you arrive at the Alexander gardens open May 1869…which was its heydays  just that, proper gardens…with its own  very grand and beautifully ornate bandstand!


Here from Victorian times onwards literally hundreds would come along to listen to the live musical bands entertain them. Relaxing in the deck chairs and listening to the stirring notes of the marching songs from the soldiers bands or the  popular songs of the day from the town bands, one of which is pictured below taken in the late 1800’s. Presumably as the two seated in the middle are from the Salvation Army this was their band. Rather quaintly, on the back of the card  Mr Rolfe writes to Miss B Hawkins of no,1, Rocky Napp, Dorchester Road enlightening her as to the order of the hymns to be played the coming sunday.


An exert from the local paper of the following year gives a flavour of the Victorian entertainment of the time.

1870 2nd Apr

THE ROYAL FUSILIERS BAND- This fine company of musicians delighted a large assembly of listeners in the new pleasure gardens on Thursday afternoon last. Among the items of a first-rate program was a composition of the bandmaster, Herr Van Heddegham, entitled “ Les Romains” which deservedly attracted a large share of attention, and displayed a great amount of constructive ability and original idea. It consists of five movements, the first of which is written in the frugal style, and is worked out with great skill. The subject commences with the basses, progressing with a highly artistic observance of the laws of fugue, and an able development of the principles of this class of composition. The second movement is an exquisite air for a soprano of a charmingly pathetic character, whilst the third, a Brarbure Militaire, presents a striking and agreeable contrast in it’s bold and animated strains. The fourth movement, “ The Invocation for Peace, “ is peculiarly distinguished by the solemn cast of melody which pervades it, and the concluding portion, “ The Orgie,” is a singularly clever piece of descriptive music, fully conveying the wild and bacchanalian idea of the title. It is almost superfluous to say that the band most perfectly expounded the intentions of their accomplished chief.

It wasn’t always plain sailing getting a town band, and it wasn’t always the local men who played, often a band would be brought in from outside to entertain, but they didn’t always get what they ordered!

1887 8 Jul



The new band from Ramsgate was engaged to commence their duties on Monday, but have had their engagement cancelled. Mr. Hawthorne, of that place, was to furnish a band of 18, and when Messrs Allcock and Webb went as a deputation from the town to hear various bands before making a selection, they were in favour of one Mr. Hawthorne then had, consisting of 12 men, which were to be further increased by six additional musicians. When the band arrived in Weymouth on Saturday night, it was ascertained that not one of the men was the same as the deputation had heard, but a scratch band got up. Under these circumstances, a meeting of the Band Committee was called on Monday, and the engagement of the master cancelled. Great consideration is felt for the men who have been brought from such distance, and permission was granted them to play about the streets until Friday, so as to “raise the wind” to take them to Ramsgate. Another band will now be engaged-probably one from Richmond.

This band stand of course soon went out of use, the town wanted an all weather venue for the bands, so a clever, supposedly cost cutting, scheme was put in place, the original bandstand was covered in, making it into a veritable glass house.


This one too reached the end of its life, and in 1923 the old glass building was becoming unsafe, a pane of glass having fallen out and hitting a tourist on the head it was decided that it was best dismantled, and a new, bigger concert hall built.

The old bandstand from the middle of the demolished building was moved up onto the Nothe gardens to replace the old thatched one that had originally been built there as seen below in the newly plated gardens of the late Victorian era..


Once again, this was a popular tourist destination as it had been for centuries.

This was when the locals and tourists had to share the grounds of what was was essentially a  military space with the stationed soldiers up on the Nothe fort and Red Barracks.


The last bandstand stood out at the end of what was an elegant, curving pier, which brings us neatly back to where we first started our story of the Weymouth bandstands.


You can just make out the bandstand at the end.

In 1886 nearly 2,000 people attended a concert and dance at the end of the pier. the entire length was romantically lit for the comfort of the guests by gas light, courtesy of the local Gas Company.

Finally demolished in 1919 when it became too decayed to use any more, the beautiful old pier itself followed not long behind.

So here we are, 2014, in an era when everyone seems to becoming more aware of its past heritage, and fighting to preserve its special places from the past, and seaside Weymouth does not have a single bandstand to its name!

But at least we do still have a town band.


Playing during the 2012 Sailing Olympics at Weymouth town bridge.


Writing a book, blog, short stories or your own family history, then why not make them jump off the page, bring them to life with historical graphics.
I have a huge collection that cover illustrations from numerous Victorian articles about travel, prisons, children’s homes, poverty, philanthropy…
Check out my Etsy site for Victorian illustrations, many more, including local ones being added all the time from my own personal collection.


Related articles

1879; Tragedy at the George Inn, Weymouth.

The imposing George Inn has stood on Weymouth’s quayside for centuries in one form or another.


Wealthy businessman Sir Samuel Mico had purchased the George Tavern in the 17th c for use as his residence when he came to Weymouth to see to business matters, many of his trading ships came into what was then a very busy trading port.

When he died he left the building to the town of Weymouth, along with a large sum of money.

Samuel Mico decreed that £500 of it was to be used  for the preaching of an annual sermon in the local church.

He also stipulated that money was to be given towards the binding out of three poor children apprentices.

And of course, not forgetting those sailors who toiled long and hard so he could trade overseas, he deemed that some should go towards the relief of ‘ten poor decayed seamen of the town,’ namely those aged 60 and upwards.

That charity is still going strong in the town to this very day.

But that’s not really what this tale is about.

It concerns the sad story of one of the residents of the George Tavern further up through its extensive history.

In 1879 forty two year William James Hines and his wife Sarah were living in the George Inn on Weymouth’s bustling quayside, along with their large family.

William was a Hampshire born man, but had moved to the Weymouth area with his family to start a new life as a licensed victualler.

Weymouth harbour

Move along to September 1879 and their whole world was about to be turned upside down.

Dad William had just purchased himself a second hand gun, a fowling piece, he fancied a spot of hunting, probably on Weymouth’s then extensive Backwater.

For some unknown reason, William handed this gun to one of his young sons, 15-year-old William  to take upstairs. Of course, you can only guess at whats coming next, knowing young boys propensity for getting up to mischief.

William, or Willie as he was known in the family, did as his father bid and carried the gun upstairs, but upon hearing his younger siblings happily playing in their bedroom he sprang into the room surprising them. Willie then turned towards his little brother, pointing the fowling piece  whilst uttering those fateful words” I will shoot you Bertie.” 


William then jumped up onto the bed, carrying on with what seemed at first like a jolly ruse, he carefully put the cap on the gun, pointed it towards the ceiling, was just about to pull the trigger, when suddenly he lost his balance, stumbled and fell.

Both Willie and gun landed on the floor, followed by an almighty explosion!

Smoke and the acrid smell of spent gunpowder filled the tiny room.

Mum Sarah, working the bar downstairs, heard the explosion and the hysterical screams that followed.

She ran up those stairs two at a time, fear gripped her heart.

Sarah opened the door to a room out of Dante’s hell.

Tragically, nine year old Bertie, or to give him his full name, Albert Issac had been stood in the wrong place at the wrong time…the shot went straight through his neck, its merciless course ripping out skin, muscles and tissues en route.

Little Bertie lay dead on the floor, his blood and skin splattered the walls.

Sister Florence, only aged 7 at the time was besides herself, as was William who began  to realise the enormity and horror of what had just happened. Over and over again he cried out “I have shot Bertie; I did not try to do it.” Unable to comprehend how in a mere second, his life could have turned into such a living nightmare.

The following Monday an inquest was held at the Guildhall under the watchful eye of Mr Giles Symonds.

The parents and children were called to give their sorrowful evidence before the court.

Willie’s story differed to that of his younger sister, he claimed that he had been stood on the bed, but the gun had accidentally gone off, knocking him to the floor. In the chaos of the horrific incident it’s often hard to recall facts, but despite this, the Coroner had no doubt…there was one man to blame for this, and one man only…the father!

The jury retired for 1/2 hour, and returned with their verdict on the death of Albert Issac Hines ,” That the deceased met his death by the explosion of a gun, through proper precautions not having been taken.”

The very next day, distraught Dad William was brought before the courts and charged with manslaughter of his own young son Bertie.Image

The body of little Albert Issac Hines was lowered in to the cold earth on the 24th September in the graveyard at  Wyke Regis.


For his siblings and parents, the memories of that dreadful day could not be quite so easily buried.


http://www.weymouth-dorset.co.uk/melcombeharbour.html (history of the buildings on the harbourside)

http://www.weymouth-town-charities.org.uk/mico.html (Sir Samuel Mico)

1895 Wheeling and dealing ……..

The governments advice for people to get on their bikes and look for work is not a new sentiment.

Even during the Victorian period people moved freely around the country following the work, such was the story of one northern family.

In the 1860’s Enoch and Mary Ann Birkin had been living in their local area, Leicester, Dad Enoch was working in industry, as a steel riveter. Mary Ann was a  woman with a strong arm, she worked as a woodcutter, earning a few extra pennies where she could  walking the streets with her basket selling firewood  door to door.

At some stage, their fortunes changed, work was hard to come by, and the family ended up in the Union workhouse.

By the early 1870’s they had moved down to Weymouth. They now lived in the High Street Weymouth, at no 4. Enoch had learnt a new trade, or maybe had even returned to an old one. He was a boot and shoe maker, with a business of his own, their lives were rather precariously on the up again.

Living with them were their children, one of those being George Alfred who had been born while the family had still lived in Leicester.

Well, young George managed to find himself bits and pieces of work here and there, every penny was needed to keep the family’s head above water…but sometimes it was a struggle. Mary Ann was back to chopping wood and hawking it around the streets.

As often happened when times are hard, George aged 15 got himself into a spot of bother. In 1993 he was before the courts accused of stealing a bunch of grapes. For his sins he was locked up and given a short sharp sentence, 7 days hard labour. Maybe that would sort the young lad out, help keep him on the straight and narrow.

But, it wasn’t to be, a couple of years later he was up before the magistrates again.


One of his many jobs was acting as a delivery boy for Messrs Dennis and Sons, drapers of 16, St Edmund Street. He came and went from the shop, delivering goods, and running errands. Unfortunately, the chance of easy pickings in the busy little shop was the undoing of George.

A certain amount of stock started to go missing, 2 expensive cardigan jackets, a whole roll of silk velvet fabric, some smaller pieces of silk fabric and velvet. Suspicions aroused, the shop keeper, Alfred Dennis called in the police, who visited another place where George often worked … the pawnshop!

This was the business of a Mr. Sergeant. It appears that when they searched the premises they found some of the silk pieces and one of the jackets.

George admitted to stealing the silk, but of course, he denied any further involvement with the disappearance of the goods.

Not satisfied, and certainly not believing the lad, Inspector Stickland along with Sergeant Detective Day went along to the family house…and of course it doesn’t surprise them that concealed in a locked box, the key of which Mary Ann had possession of, was the piece of the expensive velvet fabric. Mary Ann denied it was stolen, she replied when questioned that she had brought it to trim one of her dresses. When the fabric was taken to the shop owner, he confirmed that it was in fact the missing fabric.

George was remanded in the cells, and once he’d been confronted about the discovery, he admitted that he had stolen it and given it to his mother for safe keeping.


On the 23rd September 1895 Mary Ann went along to the courts to support her son as he was hauled up before the judge, to her complete surprise she suddenly found herself in the dock along side  him, being charged with receiving stolen property.

George, not surprisingly, was found guilty and  charged ; “Within 6 months last past, felinously stealing 1 cardigan jacket, 8 1/2 yards of velvet, and 2 pieces of silk, of the value of £1 9s, the property of Alfred Dennis at Weymouth.”

He was given 1 months hard labour.

Mum’s fate quickly followed, she was also found guilty;  “Within 6 months last past, at Weymouth, feloniously receiving from George Alfred Birkin,  1 cardigan jacket, 8 1/2 yards of velvet, and two smaller lengths of velvet, the property of Alfred Dennis, she well knowing the same to have been feloniously stolen.”

Mary Ann’s role in the theft got her 2 months hard labour.

There’s a rather poignant police photograph of George in the Dorset Gaols Admissions book, with his hands held up before him his face side on to the camera as his likeness was captured for all eternity…only a few months later that was all that was left of him, George was dead.


Writing a book, blog, short stories or your own family history, then why not make them jump off the page, bring them to life with historical graphics.
I have a huge collection that cover illustrations from numerous Victorian articles about travel, prisons, children’s homes, poverty, philanthropy…
Check out my Etsy site for Victorian illustrations, many more, including local ones being added all the time from my own personal collection.


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1867; Danger in Portland quarries.

The quarries on Portland are world renown.


They are of  a strange type of brutal beauty, the glare from the white stone is blinding in the bright sunshine, the heat reflects mercilessly from the  calcified remains that makes up the huge slabs that tumble and totter precariously all around.

Ultimately, their beauty belies the ever present danger that resides within, no more so than for those who toiled in them.

The prison on Portland opened in 1848, it was constructed to hold the convicts that were deliberately brought into the area to work as labour in the quarries and on the new breakwaters that the government were constructing for a safe harbour.

This was extremely dangerous work, both for the prisoners who toiled in the government quarries, and the freemen who worked long side them.

One young man, 34-year-old Frederick Goody was about to discover just how dangerous they were.

Frederick was a  good old Essex lad.

He had a very troubled past, and was no stranger to the law. Most of it concerned with theft of food, so we can only surmise that these were the only way he could eat, maybe the family were poverty stricken, and it was a way of life for them…a question of survival.

His crime spree started at a very young age.  On the 18th May 1847 Frederick was hauled before the courts charged with theft, he was lucky that time as he was found not guilty. Already at the tender age of 12 Frederick was marked boy.

By the year 1850, when he was just 15 Frederick was before the courts again. The 9th April saw him stood in the dock along side two other lads, William Drury and Charles Deson. This time the crime was of a more serious nature, the three of them were convicted of breaking and entering a house. The 3 lads had broken into a bakers and stolen a bag of flour…then proceeded to leave an incriminating trail  as they made their way back to their lodgings! Once the police were involved, it didn’t take them long to find and follow the betraying track of grey powder, which led straight to the removed railing… that led them to their house, and the flour that smothered their clothing…they didn’t seem to be the most competent of criminals.

The magistrate decided that the eldest boy William was the ring leader and he got the longest sentence, Frederick and his accomplice were given 6 months.

Frederick was before the courts again in 1856, this time convicted of the theft of items from a house in Halstead. Convicted of Burglary, and having had fallen foul of the law before he received  4 Years Penal Servitude.


The year 1863 was to be Frederick’s date with fate.

In the October, he was again in court, having been found guilty of stealing 4 ducks and a hen from Mr Green, a farmer in Halstead. Frederick had been caught literally red handed.

As he had stealthily made his way across the fields in the dark, he had the misfortune to stumble across the local bobby, who spotting something unusual about his shape, asked to see what was under his smock… no surprises there, 5 limp, warm bodies of the feathered variety appeared, throats cut.


For that crime Frederick received 7 years penal servitude…and a one way ticket to Portland.

His description taken from his arrival was of an uneducated, illiterate man who knew no scriptures or passages from the bible. Portland was a fairly modern prison for its time, and as part of the mens stay during their term, they received one afternoon a weeks lessons in a classroom. Ironic as it may seem, for many of these boys and men this was their only chance of an education that they had ever had in their harsh lives.


The lad was soon put to work in the quarries.

The work was hard , though most prisoners tended to take their toil at a more leisurely pace much to the Portlanders disgust, who had to slave away to make enough money to live on.

That didn’t stop Frederick from falling foul of fickle fate though.

As a large  2 ton slab of stone was being slowly tipped by a gang of men, Frederick for some unknown reason walked right under the  slab just as it started its downward path of its descent…that was that…squashed flat as a proverbial pancake!

With numerous broken bones and a head shattered like a battered pumpkin there was no hope of survival for this newly educated man.

Frederick Goodey was buried  on the 3rd April 1867 on Portland.


Writing a book, blog, short stories or your own family history, then why not make them jump off the page, bring them to life with historical graphics.
I have a huge collection that cover illustrations from numerous Victorian articles about travel, prisons, children’s homes, poverty, philanthropy…
Check out my Etsy site for Victorian illustrations, many more, including local ones being added all the time from my own personal collection.


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1891; Wyke Regis church receives its new bells

There is a sound you don’t hear very often these days, the ringing of church bells.

I loved to hear them.

At one time their merry peel would call villagers to worship on Sundays, ring out joyfully at wedding ceremonies, or the solemn death knell  rung to mourn a person passing.

lady church gravestones

In the Victorian era the church played a very large part in the community, it was the heart of the village. Here people would meet and greet, marry and bury loved ones. children would learn the stories of Jesus at their almost obligatory Sunday schools, while Mum and Dad enjoyed a Sunday afternoon to themselves.

In May of 1891 the parish church at Wyke Regis received their sparkling set of 8 new bells.

A replacement floor of solid oak beams had been laid on which the new bell frame and cage stood, the old one was becoming perilous according to the Bell committee. The work in the tower was done by a Mr Joseph Bishop.

Joseph was a local builder, he lived in Bay Tree Cottage along with his wife Mena, and their teenage son Joseph James.

Messrs Taylor and Co of Loughborough, a specialist firm, had been entrusted with the bells themselves.

They also took the opportunity to install a chiming apparatus (Ellacombe’s) for times when the bell ringers weren’t available. This was a scheme whereby it only took one person to ring them. Instead of the bells swinging right round on their frames as with individual bell ringers, with this system, each bell had a hammer that would tap the side of individual bells. Each hammer had a rope that came down through the ceiling and was connected to a frame below, the rope stayed taut, and was rung by the rope being pulled towards the solitary ringer.

Many churches employed this sytem as it solved the problem of unruly bell ringers!

Each of the bells had been ‘sponsored’ and contained a dedication upon it .


No 1. (treble) “John G and Emma Rowe. Thanks giving 1891.”

Weight 4cwt 2qrs, cost £25 4s.

John  and Emma Rowe were wealthy merchants in Melcombe Regis. They owned premises 13, 14, 15, 16, St Mary Street, where they ran a silk milliner & costumier business that employed 57 local women.


No 2. “In loving memory Mabel Vincent of Faircross, 1891.”

Weight; 5cwt, cost £28.

Mabel was the daughter of John Beale and Frances (Fanny) Mary Vincent who lived in the big house Faircross. They owned Vincent’s jeweller in St Mary Street.

Mabel died on the 1st April in 1885 aged 17, she was in Brussels at the time, her body was brought home and buried in Melcombe Regis churchyard on the 6th April.

I can recall Vincent’s jewellery shop well as a child, outside was painted black and always had huge decorative silver cups and trophies on display in the windows. Years later I worked in that same shop for over 15 years when it was Next clothing retailer.

Mr Vincent discovered a 14th Century stone
plinth that may be a part of a cross used by visiting friars who
used to preach at fairs – Faircross? This stone is still on the
site, although his house has since been pulled down and replaced
with flats.


No 3. “Peace be within Thy Walls. 1891”

Weight; 6cwt, cost £33 12s.


No 4. “Bless ye the Lord, praise Him, and magnify Him for ever. 1891.”

this one was donated by Mrs R Phelips of Weymouth.

Weight; 7 cwt, cost £40 12s.


No 5. “Give thanks to God, 1614, 1617, 1728, 1891.”

The dates inscribed on this bell were the dates that the bells had previously been cast.

Weight; 9 cwt 3qrs, cost £54 12s.


No 6. “The women of Wyke gave me, 1891.”


No 7. “Given by the Rev Frederick Tufnell, M.A., in memory of his wife, Margaret Tufnell, who died 1888. ‘Oh ye spirits of and souls of the Rightious, bless ye the Lord; praise Him and magnify Him for ever. 1891.”

Weight; 12 cwt 3 qrs, cost £71 8s.


No 8. (tenor)

“Lord may this bell for ever be

a tuneful voice o’er land and sea,

To call they people unto thee”

T.M Bell-Salter, curate; J.G; Rowe and R.W. Reynolds, churchwardens, 1891.”

Weight; 16cwt, cost £89 12s.

Cornish born John Rowe was another wealthy business man who lived with his wife Emma on Bincleaves in  a large house, Trelawney. They were drapers.

Robert William Reynolds lived at Hillside in Wyke Regis. They were also wealthy merchants, this time dealing in wine and spirits.


In addition to the cost of the bells was an extra £219 for the additional fittings needed to make the bell tower complete. Frame work, ropes, clappers, chiming apparatus and the bel carriage. But they did get the money back from the money from the metal of the old bell, £ 101 5s 4d.

children church q 1887

Like most ceremonies during the Victorian era, the village went to town (so to speak) A dedication service was held on the Friday at 5 30 in the afternoon performed by the Bishop of the diocese. Afterwards the villagers made their way to the lawn in front of Wyke House where a grand afternoon tea was laid on for everyone to enjoy.

The joyous bells could ring out once more in Wyke.

wyke church

© Copyright Basher Eyre and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.


Writing a book, blog, short stories or your own family history, then why not make them jump off the page, bring them to life with historical graphics.
I have a huge collection that cover illustrations from numerous Victorian articles about travel, prisons, children’s homes, poverty, philanthropy…
Check out my Etsy site for Victorian illustrations, many more, including local ones being added all the time from my own personal collection.


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1873; The battle for Greenhill gardens;2013.

This is a very hot topic today in the local news…the local council seem to be stripping off all our best assets, and one that they are talking about selling off to a private investor are the renown Greenhill gardens. Not surprisingly this has a great many of the local residents up in arms.Image

These are prize winning grounds that contain gardening classics such as  the floral clock and flower beds. All immaculately maintained by the hardworking groundsmen and the Friends of Greenhill gardens, a voluntary group. Much of my childhood was spent wandering these grounds, listening to the cuckoo that sounded on the hour by the pretty clock.

My own kids when they were little would walk up here with my father to buy a packet of sweeties from the shop, and to watch that very same clock.


These are the jewel in the crown to our little seaside town, please don’t let us loose them, they also happen to be on a piece of land that could be considered to be prime real estate


These gardens have been fought over before way back in history in the beginnings of their life.

Before anything was built along this stretch of ground it was a stretch of cliffs that were constantly washed by the sea, it was considered as common land even then, but in fact it was owned, like vast areas of our town by the Johnson estate.

As far back as 1865 a grand scheme had been hatched for this area.


Southern Times.;1865 26 Aug



We wish most particularly to direct the attention of our numerous readers, especially our fair friends, to the advertisement in another column of the Manor Cricket and Archery Park Company (Limited), and right glad are we to find the name of our energetic and well-wishing friend, Mr. W J Compton, being associated in the management of it. That we wish him every possible success and patronage to develop such a grand feature for the town of Weymouth is but faintly expressing our ideas on the subject.

Let us, however, just hastily run through the programme, “Cricket and Archery”, and we think we hear one of our fair readers add, “Yes, and croquet too, and a club ground arranged on purpose for us”. Well, such is the case. Cricket for our rising young friends, to assist them in bracing up the nerves, developing the manly powers, and in spending many a happy hour in really good wholesome exercise, and which will bear reflection on many occasions in after life, for who is there among our more mature readers that does not remember, at some early period of his life, having had many a game at “ Cricket on the Common,” with the village blacksmith, the clerk, and the lads of the village, aye, and probably the rector and his curate also? For where is to be found a more thoroughly English and in every way beneficial game than cricket, and where the peer and the peasant may meet on friendly and equal terms? There has many a good sermon been read to the lads of the village by the presence of their pastor in an innocent game of cricket with them, and many a good example set not forgotten through life, for early impressions are those which form the after character of the man.

But to pass on to archery, one of the most fashionable and healthy accomplishments for “ the fair and beautiful girls of our island,” does this not also brace up the nerves, assist the carriage and deportment, expand the chest (much more so than reading the last “sensation novel of the day” on a reclining couch), and in every way improve the health by the walking exercise it necessarily entails, the gentle excitement it causes on the match ground, and the conversation it creates when meeting tête-à-tête in the drawing room? And there is croquet too, a very stylish pretty lawn game, and in a neat and comfortable alcove the ladies may be seated enjoying the pure sea breeze, with a distant view of the magnificent Portland Breakwater and the frowning hills of the island.

A refreshment room will be provided, where, tea, coffee, and general confectionary may be found. The band will also play at appointed hours. In the winter skating may be enjoyed on the lake, and which, by the plan we have had submitted to us, divides the park in half, thus displacing any fear that may arise in the minds of our fair readers as to any danger arising from the cricket balls; and where in summer our juveuile friends may amuse themselves by sailing their miniature Warriors and Royal Sovereigns, and arrange an amateur “battle with the breeze.”

We are pleased to find a rule to close the gates at sunset, which will ensure the respectability of the grounds, and a properly appointed park keeper will be on duty the whole day. The directors will no doubt frame such rules as will keep up the morale of their undertaking. And now a word to our readers and the public respecting the shares. We may commend the prospectus to their favourable notice and deep consideration, as looking at the 3rd clause we think with the economical management which will be pursued that a fair dividend may be annually paid, and the immense indirect benefit to be derived by our fellow townsmen, should induce one and all to put their shoulder to the wheel and assist in developing it, if by only taking a few, say five, shares each, which will ensure them a vote in the management, and we think 40 shares will constitute a director. The company is started on no political grounds. It is for the benefit and amusement of the whole town, and we therefore hope to see friends of all shades of politics join in the undertaking and bring it to a successful issue.

Sir Frederick Johnstone has in a most handsome manner offered the ground on very liberal and easy terms, and the adjoining portion of the estate is now being surveyed and laid out for villa building. We are authorized to state that one gentleman will become a director of the Park Company, if it is started this autumn (and that swampy, marshy piece of land below Greenhill is this filled up), and will erect a few villas adjoining, suitable for the reception of our resident gentry and those wishing to reside amongst us. But time and space will not allow us to say any more now, and we will refer to it again shortly; but let us again impress it on our fellow townsmen and all well wishers to the town of Weymouth.

Do not let such an excellent opportunity for raising the town f Weymouth to the most fashionable watering place in England be allowed to pass, for it is very improbable that facilities for consummation like those now offering will again present themselves. There is a good old saying “Strike while the iron’s hot,” and workers in iron find that there is force and reason in it. The present favourable position of affairs would seem to infer “Now’s the time, now’s the hour,” for launching the above scheme-limited according to act of Parliament, but not limited in the intellectual, to say nothing of the financial and all who honour our town with a visit or invest their capital in its shares.


Nothing seemed to have come of that previous scheme, but things went ahead for the grounds anyway, under the leadership of Sir Frederick Johnstone. By the year 1872 the gardens had started to be formed.

Southern Times.

1872 5th Jun


We have been favoured with the sight of a drawing of the contemplated conversion of Greenhill into pleasant walks and gardens. When the idea is carried out it will form one of the most attractive and picturesque spots belonging to our sea-side resort.

When Sir Frederick Johnstone, who owns the property, was here recently, it was represented to him how great an advantage would accrue to the town if the land at Greenhill was laid out as a place of public resort, and the benefit it would confer on a large number of men who were out of empty. With his usual generosity, Sir Frederick, in order to give employment to those who were out of work, consented to have the land laid out as public walks and gardens, and the works are now in full progress, affording labour to some thirty men.

The plan shows it is contemplated to extend the Esplanade wall about 500 yards northward. At present this will not be carried out, but it is hoped that some day we shall see our promenade prolonged nearly as far as the spot where the old ice house stood, and without doubt it will form one of its most attractive features.

The land at Greenhill will be laid out in wide undulating walks, following as near as possible the contours of the ground, and hereafter the slopes will be planted with pines and other hardy shrubs. Near the road will be a platform for a band, with seats placed around for the accommodation for visitors. The land will be broken up in places with a rockery. There will be croquet and archery grounds, prepared with consummate taste and skill. In various parts of the walks there will be ample accommodation for visitors to rest, chairs being plentifully distributed. It is only intended this year to lay out the walks, and when the proper times comes, to stock the slopes with shrubs. It is conjectured that the walks will be ready for the benefit of the public in about two months time. The land will be enclosed with a rustic fence, and when completed, it will prove a most charming spot.

Mr. G.R. Crickmay, the architect to the Johnstone estate, has been entrusted with the laying out of the ground, and his well-known artistic taste in this department will be sufficient guarantee for our having a resort which will reflect credit in his judgment and also on the town. The land laid out extends 340 yards in length and 50 in width, but the archery ground will be in addition. We should state that these walks will be entirely for the use of the town and its visitors, and will be open to the public without any charge, in fact it will be the “people’s park,”

One very important feature in connection with the laying out of Greenhill as a pleasure spot is that Sir Frederick Johnstone has determined that no houses shall be built near the newly-made gardens. Here away from the noise and bustle of the town, the inhabitant or visitor will find one of the most lovely spots with which to feast his sight. Before him lies our unrivalled bay, and then stretching out as far as sight reaches the English Channel and West Bay, whilst nearer are the noble cliffs of Old Albion on the one side and the rugged heights of Portland on the other. Then closer still that wonderful monument of man’s ingenuity and skill-the harbour of refuge, where during some period of the year are to be found our ironclad fleet and numbers of craft of all sizes. Then coming very near home, the beautiful sweep of the Esplanade, the sands, and the harbour, all combine to make Weymouth and its neighbourhood are to be seen to advantage. Here the delightful sea breeze refreshes the weary one with double vigour; here the eyes rests on a scene so varied in it’s character-an endless expanse of water at one’s feet, majestic cliffs and beautiful vallies, hill and dale, woodland scenery; in fact, everything which can gratify the eye and please the lover of Nature. Here is a spot on which a painter would like to linger, and which would be a theme of admiration with the poet. There is no doubt for the future Greenhill will be the “lion of the place.”


The phrase they used in the passage just about says it allWe should state that these walks will be entirely for the use of the town and its visitors, and will be open to the public without any charge, in fact it will be the “people’s park,”

Certain people at the time were concerned that this area should remain for public use, and questions were asked in the council meeting..


Mr. HOWARD , in adverting to Sir Frederick Johnstone’s improvements in laying out Greenhill, said this would be a great addition to the town, and a wonderful improvement to Sir Fredericks’s own property in that neighbourhood, and the only wonder was that it had not been done years ago, as then the houses in that locality would have been let over and over again. He wanted to know what steps had been taken by the Board to preserve the rights which the public had had for so many years over Greenhill.

It was explained that the public would have the same rights and privileges as at present.

By 1873 the gardens were nearly completed.


Visitors to our town who knew the Greenhill a year ago would now be at a loss to recognize the old spot, so thoroughly has it been altered.

Instead of its being as heretofore a place of humps and hollows and desolation, it is now, through the great generosity of Sir Frederick Johnstone, one of the prettiest places in the town, and is really a people’s park in miniature. The ground has been very admirably laid out under the direction of Mr. G.R. Crickmay, and now there are grassy slopes, artistic mounds, and pleasant walks. The gardens have been planted with trees, shrubs, and plants of various kinds, and when these have had a few years growth the appearance of the place will be considerably improved.


At the extreme end of the gardens is a well-formed piece of ground to be used for croquet playing. This site is surrounded by a rustic wooden fence, which gives it a very pretty appearance. Another important advantage is that owing to the construction of the gardens the Esplanade has been lengthened to the extent of several hundred yards. The gardens may now be considered nearly completed, only some fine gravel being required to finish off the walks. When the gardens are thrown open to the public, we are sure they will be greatly appreciated by the town, and the Greenhill will be a pleasure resort both to residents and visitors.


Things didn’t go too smoothly though, ructions began in the council, all was not what it had at first seemed. One particular councillor, Mr Wallis,  took it into his hands to try and rectify matters. He was a peoples man. He had fought for the Alexander gardens to be open, free for use by one and all, often standing by the gate with his cane, ready to threaten anyone daring to try to take money for entering the gardens. this man is my hero.


1886 29th Jul; THE TIMES





The hearing of this case, which has occupied the attention of this court on six entire days, was concluded this morning.

The dispute was a local one, in reference to certain lands near Weymouth and Melcombe Regis, in the county of Dorset, and the principle features of the case was the antiquity of the documentary evidence relied on by the defendants, one of whom conducted the case in person. The plaintiff, Sir Frederick Johnstone, was, it appeared, the principle owner of the land in the neighborhood of Weymouth. His predecessors in title enclosed the lands in question many years ago. A portion of the enclosed lands was built upon or laid out for building, and the other portion was dedicated to the public as a garden and recreation ground, which, it was said was maintained by the Johnstone family at their own expense. Recently, the defendant, Wallis and Mudd, accompanied by about 150 persons, broke down the fences of the public garden and of other land, and committed other various acts of trespass. The defendant Wallis sought to justify this trespass on the ground that part of the land was common land, being parcel of what was formerly known as Melcombe Common, and had been wrongfully enclosed by the plaintiff’s predecessors in title. As to the rest of the land, the contention was that it was the property of the Corporation of Weymouth.

Mr. Graham Hastings, Q C, Mr. Elton Q C, Mr. Hull, and Mr. Farwell appeared for the plaintiff, and called witnesses who proved the commission of the acts of trespass. The defendant, Wallis, conducting the case in person, referred to various old documents, including an entry in Doomsday Book under date A D 1087, charters, grants, & c. in the rights of Edward I, Edward III, Henry VIII, Elizabeth, and James I during the Commonwealth, and subsequently. He also called witnesses to prove the exercise by various persons of rights of common over the land, formerly known as Melcombe Common.

Mr. JUSTICE KAY in delivering judgment, said that no doubt the defendants, Wallis and Mudd, acted as they did in belief that they were doing service to their fellow townsmen, and were vindicating their rights in a proper way. But the law of this country is that if any person chooses to enter violently on land enclosed and in the peaceable possession of others, to break down railings and commit acts of trespass of that kind, that person is doing prima facie a wrongful act, and when he does so accompanied by a mob of 150 people, it is obvious that such proceedings are likely to lead to acts of violence which no law-abiding citizen of this country in his senses would think to be a proper way of vindicating his rights, what ever they might be. His Lordship then stated in detail the facts of the case. In particular he referred to an allegation in the defense that by a Royal Charter of Henry VIII a right of commons, of pasture and recreation over Melcombe-common had been granted to the free burgesses of Melcombe=Regis. It was admitted, his Lordship said by the defendant Wallis that ? ? ? person who had committed a breach of it. A good illustration of this was afforded by the case of “ Rothchild v Brookman” (5 Bligh N S 105) in which a purchase of stock by an agent was set aside.




A FICTITIOUS CHARTER-  In the Chancery Division, on Wednesday, Mr. Justice Kay granted an injunction against certain inhabitants of Weymouth, who, accompanied by a large mob, broke down the fences and committed other acts of trespass on land belonging to Sir Frederick Johnstone, near that town. The defendants relied on a charter of Henry III., purporting to give the burgesses certain common rights, but this charter proved to be fictitious, and Sir Frederick’s title was in other respects good.


Wallis, who had so valiantly stood up and acted on behalf of the inhabitants of the borough was now on the receiving end of the law, because of the court costs, sadly and unfairly, he was to become broke and ended living in poverty.


1890 19 sep

Wallis testimonial fund concert

Through the kindness of many friends a concert in aid of the Wallis testimonial fund was given at the Jubilee Hall on Wednesday evening. It may be recollected that some few years since, whilst Mr. Thomas Wallis was a member of the Town Council, he very unwisely involved himself in a legal action with Sir Frederick Johnstone, in his endeavor to wrest from him some property which he contended belonged to the town. In order to carry on the action he had to sacrifice all the property he possessed-at that time by no means an inconsiderable amount-but in the end was beaten, and had to pay the taxed costs. This, of course, simply ruined him, houses and home were sold up, and he left Weymouth, since which time he has been engaged in earning a livelihood as an artist. In response to an appeal made by the Mayor, a subscription has been set on foot in the town, in order to assist him, which has been liberally responded to, and it was in order to supplement this effort that a concert was arranged to take place, as it was hoped that by this means a substantial sum might be added to the fund. The concert was one in which amateur vocalists took part, the professional gentlemen of the town kindly giving their services. The attendance was nothing like so large as was expected, about five hundred persons only being present, so that the proceeds from this source will not be very large. The concert was of a rather tame character, and did not seem to be appreciated as much as usual.




Mr. Roberts asked if any communications had been received from Sir F Johnstone respecting the further enclosing of Greenhill as public gardens.- The Mayor stated he had received a very kind letter, but had mislaid it.


1891 8 Aug; THE GRAPHIC

The Greenhill gardens, the property of Sir F Johnstone ,Bart, are generously thrown open to the public, and maintained by the owner in first-rate-order. The roads and pavements have been much improved.


At a later date further land was added to the gardens;



Mr. A N M Jones moved that that portion of Lodmoor now belonging to the Johnstone Estate shall be required by the Weymouth Corporation to provide an addition to the Greenhill Gardens, also to carry out such improvements as may be thought desirable and necessary. -Owing to the protracted nature of the meeting, Mr. Jones consented to the postponement of his propositions.




In the continuation of beautiful weather visitors are flocking to Weymouth in large numbers and the summer season may now be regarded as being at its height.


The ready manner in which the Corporation cater for their patrons was again exemplified on Wednesday, when there were opened, with due formality, a number of bathing bungalows on the sea front at Greenhill, additional tennis courts, and a bowling green, with convenient dressing-rom accommodation. Above the bungalows is a sheltered promenade, which will no doubt prove a favourite resort. Tennis tournaments and competitions in bowls are being arranged which will provide much pleasure for towns-folk and visitors alike.


We may need to fight to keep our parks and gardens, just that “OUR” parks and gardens.


Writing a book, blog, short stories or your own family history, then why not make them jump off the page, bring them to life with historical graphics.
I have a huge collection that cover illustrations from numerous Victorian articles about travel, prisons, children’s homes, poverty, philanthropy…
Check out my Etsy site for Victorian illustrations, many more, including local ones being added all the time from my own personal collection.


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1859; Circus in Weymouth.

One of my childhood memories was visiting the annual circus that came to town.

I know nowadays that using performing animals is not politically correct, rightly so, but as a child in the 50’s people never considered that darker side of circus life.

The excitement would bubble up in my chest as we were walking down towards Lodmoor where they often pitched their site, streams of people would be making their way down Dorchester Road towards the music that could be heard on the early evening air. Your first sighting of that gaudily coloured tent, pennants flying in the breeze. As you got closer, the smell of the animals… you knew you were in for an exciting, if not sometimes, scary evening.

Entering the heavy flaps of the tent, and climbing what seemed very rickety steps up onto the wooden circular bench seats perched high above the ground, well, as a small child they seemed high!

Now the wait…!

Circuses have been around for centuries, regularly touring the country and  abroad, entertaining the masses with exciting acts of daring and skill.

In July of 1859 Mr William Cooke’s Equestrian Entertainment arrived in Weymouth.


Crowds had gathered to watch the colourful procession as it entered the town, great fun was to be had today, children gazed in awe as the circus carriages rumbled past on their way to Lodmoor.

First act was the mighty Ajax, the performing elephant, doing seemingly impossible tricks and movements that defied his immense size, his trainer, crop in hand, his voice commanding this intelligent levanthian quadruped from the centre.

Things were about to get even more exciting, next into the ring raced a troop of gleaming horses, perched on top were the beautiful ladies who pirouetted, and jumped as easily on their backs as if they were on solid ground, the bare-back riders drew gasps of astonishment at their amazingly agile acrobatics. They knew no fear as they galloped around the ring .


Next came the dashing Mr Pearson, who in his brightly spangled tight suit performed the most incredible acrobatics… thrilling the audience with his twists and turns, leaps and  rolls. His lithe body bending in the most unnatural ways as he contorted himself across the arena from one side to the other.

Bringing light relief and laughter into the mood of the audience, in through the entrance flaps tumbled the performing dogs and monkeys…the little dogs elegantly dressed in the fashions of the day, crinolines, while the monkeys resembled midget footmen complete with ruffles and velvet suits. Their antics encouraging the onlookers to cheer for more as they performed their tricks. Monkeys balancing on their heads on top of poles, dogs on two feet pushing prams….was there no end to their skills?

Then came the grand highlight of the show….with a roll of drums, and the lights dimmed, in through the entrance strode the ultimate star, Salamader, the powerful and much celebrated war-horse. Majestic in his performance, his long silken mane and tail flowed like water as he galloped around and around.

At the end of his performance he moved gracefully to the centre of the ring where he stood stock still, head raised in defiance as fireworks exploded all around him…he had been in battle, knew no fear.

What a star.

By the end of the day, all that was left to remind people of the amazing sights they had seen were wheel ruts in the ground and straw blowing away in the breeze, as transient as the circus.



Writing a book, blog, short stories or your own family history, then why not make them jump off the page, bring them to life with historical graphics.
I have a huge collection that cover illustrations from numerous Victorian articles about travel, prisons, children’s homes, poverty, philanthropy…
Check out my Etsy site for Victorian illustrations, many more, including local ones being added all the time from my own personal collection.


Related articles