18 April 2012

Portland has changed

The Portland that I grew up near (Weymouth and Portland may be the name of the Council but they are two very different places) had a large Naval Base, a Prison and a lot of rugged rocks.

Now the Naval Base has gone and the area around the harbour that used to require a security badge to get to is now freely accessible.

From there the other changes to Portland are apparent.

Verne Prison is still on the top of the hill, or rather built in to it, but the area around it has been transformed, first by the departure of the Naval Base and then by the arrival of the Olympics.

Former naval accommodation has been remodelled for people with smaller, slower and less deadly boats, and other buildings have sprung up to serve the same market.

The change is even more apparent when you look at the harbour which has been colonised by hordes of small boats looking for all the world as if they had always been there and the days of drunken sailors in the Harbour Club being escorted back to base by the Military Police had never happened.

But around the corner there is one memento of the life that Portland used to lead.

This is a Lynx helicopter built not too far away by Westland, the company famously supported by Michael Heseltine when Thatcher wanted the USA to own this part of our defence industry. She won and he resigned.

The other type of helicopter that used to be seen regularly above and around Portland was the much bigger Sea King, also from Westland.

When the Navy was in Portland its presence was obvious from the uniforms in the town, the occasional fracas in the pubs  and the buzzing above your head. Now that has all gone and the people and machines that have replaced it are all but invisible. Portland seems to be asleep, waiting for an other event like the Olympics to wake it up.

1 comment:

  1. It's politically correct round these parts to be highly positive about the Olympics and the "legacy" benefits.
    However I'm an olympic phobic and see all the risks, costs and uncertainty - nevertheless I hope I'll be proved wrong and it will be a "good thing".


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