Ferry Bridge, Dorset

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Ferry Bridge is at the beginning of the causeway to the Isle of Portland, Dorset, England, and is the point at which the Fleet lagoon joins Portland Harbour. It is situated several hundred metres south of the Portland's boundary with the village of Wyke Regis, Weymouth. To the west of Ferry Bridge is the start of The Fleet, which is an internationally important nature reserve that extends to Abbotsbury Swannery, whilst to the east of the area is Portland Harbour. Along the harbour side is Smallmouth Beach.

The last building on the mainland before entering Portland is the Ferry Bridge pub, which was once known as the Royal Victoria Inn. The first building on Portland is the Chesil Beach Centre; a nature study centre.[1] Ferry Bridge is also a popular dive site.[2]


File:Ferry Bridge - geograph.org.uk - 1276388.jpg
The bridge with the Fleet running under towards Portland Harbour.

The only road between Portland and the Mainland (the A354) passes across Ferry Bridge. Before 1839 there was no road connection between the Royal Manor of Portland and mainland England. The crossing was treacherous and people and animals were carried in a small boat using ropes spanning across the gap.[3]

During November 1824 a storm breached Chesil Beach, and caused destruction at the Smallmouth Passage. It became known as "The Great Gale of 1824", and the Ferry House was destroyed.[4] The storm left the passage more unsafe and dangerous than it ever had been before.[5] There had been unsuccessful petitions during the late 18th-century for a bridge to be built at Smallmouth, and the storm of 1824 added weight to this demand. The first bridge over the passage was built in 1839.[6] This original toll bridge was maintained by Bridge Commissioners, and made Ferry Bridge a popular attraction for visitors.[7]

During 1894 the Bridge Commissioners began to negotiate with Dorset's County Council over the transfer of the bridge to the council. The bridge had fallen into a poor state, and the council were interested in rebuilding and maintaining a new structure. The bridge was soon transferred, and the second bridge constructed between 1894–96.[8] By the late 20th-century the iron bridge had become rusted and worn-out, which led to the construction of a new bridge in 1985.[3] As the passage had been realigned during the 1970s, the new bridge was situated several hundred metres south of the original bridge's position.[9]

In 1865, the mainland railway line had been extended from Weymouth to Portland, with the line running between the main road to Portland, and the harbour. In order to get across the Smallmouth passage, a wooden viaduct was built by 1864.[10] In 1902 a new viaduct was built of steel at Ferry Bridge.[11] The railway closed to passengers in 1952, and goods traffic in 1965. The viaduct at Ferry Bridge was demolished in December 1971.[11] Robert Whitehead's Torpedo Works, a factory built in 1891 to manufacture torpedoes, was once situated on the Wyke Regis side of Ferry Bridge. The factory was closed and demolished in 1997, and is now a housing estate.[12] At Ferry Bridge is a World War II type 22 pillbox, placed along the east of the Fleet.[13]


  1. "Ferrybridge, Portland, Dorset". Geoffkirby.co.uk. Retrieved 10 June 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. "ferrybridge". Underwater Explorers. Retrieved 10 June 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. 3.0 3.1 http://www.geoffkirby.co.uk/Portland/660750/
  4. "The Great Gale of 1824".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. "Portland Year Book".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. Mackenzie, Roy (1999). Portland: A Topographical and Historical Gazetteer. p. 21.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. "Geology of Portland Harbour, Dorset - Geology Field Trip Guide".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. "Portland Year Book".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. "Pictures - Ferrybridge". Chesilbeach.org. Retrieved 10 June 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. "Disused Stations: Portland Station (1st site)".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. 11.0 11.1 "The Rodwell Trail".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. "Whitehead Torpedo Works".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. Historic England. "Monument No. 1419087". PastScape. Retrieved 6 October 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

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