Melcombe Regis - Harbourside
This side of Weymouth Harbour is what was formerly known as the port of Melcombe Regis and as Melcombe Quay or Key.
Ship Inn, Fishmarket, George Inn, Custom House Quay and the Customs House, Sailor's Bethel
In the picture above can be seen from the left, The Ship Inn, now extended along the quay over the site where the Red Warehouse once stood which was demolished in the 1950s. The original Ship Inn (the white building) is actually situated in Maiden Street on the corner. It is one of the old public houses having been here since at least the seventeenth century. On its opposite corner, a low building with character and of very different design, is the Victorian fish market built in 1855. Nearby, standing tall amongst the other buildings, is the George Inn. The original George Inn is known to have existed on this site before 1665 when its owner, Sir Samuel Mico bequeathed it to the Corporation of Weymouth and Melcombe Regis. The profits from it were to apprentice three poor children amongst other things. This charity continues today. It is recorded that John Keys was the landlord of the George Inn in the 1790s.
A part of this side of the harbour is known as Custom House Quay. As one would expect with such a name, this is where the Customs House stands. It can be seen here in the second picture next to the white building and on the corner of East Street. On its opposite corner stands an old warehouse. To the right of the white building in the third picture above is what was formerly the Sailor's Bethel. This was opened by church charities in 1866 and is now the headquarters of the Dorset Yacht Club.
Shipbuilding is known to have taken place along this quay and it is recorded that in 1721 two ships were built by W. Gleade. His premises were on a part of the quay that was a recently built extension at the time and was extended further in 1723. It is thought that prior to this the quay ended at the George Inn.
It is also on this side that the tracks run down from the railway station to the harbourside at the ferry terminal and at one time the railway to the quay provided a very important service. Known as the 'boat train' it provided transport to the Channel Island ferries.
The Sailors Return
At the other end of Melcombe harbour going towards the Backwater, by the inner harbour is another public house of some age. The Sailor's Return is just past the Town Bridge alongside the inner harbour on the corner of St. Nicholas Street. It is a charming pub, with some of Weymouth's history upon its inside walls. Drawn and painted onto the walls is a very old map of Melcombe Regis and other items of historic interest.
It is here on the quay, at the end of St. Nicholas Street that in the days before any bridges were built over the harbour that a ferry operated to and from the Weymouth side.
Leland wrote in his itinerary in 1538 of the harbour "the Trajectus is by a bote and a rope, bent over the haven, so that yn the fery-bote they use no ores."
It was through the port of Melcombe Regis that the bubonic plague also known as the Black Death entered England in 1348.
Town Buildings (Melcombe Regis)
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