This film is part of Free

Portland documentary

This documentary takes a unique look at the Isle of Portland and its history and delves into the everyday lives of its islanders.

News 1974 51 mins

From the collection of:

Logo for South West Film and Television Archive


TV reporter Clive Gunnell presents this documentary about the Isle of Portland. Portland is known as the isle of slingers for using slingshot against its encroaching enemies. It is situated in the English Channel and joined by a shingle sandbar Chesil Beach to the mainland at Weymouth. Royal Naval Air Station Portland was opened in 1917 and from 1959 was also called HMS Osprey. The naval base closed in 1999. Thomas Hardy and Dr Marie Stopes had associations with the isle.

The Royal Navy's Research and Development Centre was based at East Weares and a huge ship-like structure offshore for research into underwater sonar. HM Coastguard are now based in a new building on the renamed Ospery Quay. Portland is part of the Jurassic Coast a world heritage site famed for its geology including Portland Stone, a limestone used in the building of St Paul's Cathedral in London and many other famous structures. A by-product of the quarrying was used as aggregate concrete to build Tottenham Court Road's Centre Point building. The quarry workers used to number 700 to 800 people and sons would follow fathers into the industry. Islanders are also recognised for their stonemasonry skills.