Tudor houses demolished

A SEAWEED-covered mound of rubble in Weymouth Harbour off North Quay was once historic housing.

The ramshackle buildings, at least one of which dated back to Tudor times, were demolished more than 40 years ago at a time when conservation was not what it is now.

I bemoan the historical loss from a site now graced by an ugly box-like council building, but I have been told by Weymouth Civic Society which doesn’t just reveal building attitudes of the time but also that not all those historic materials may have been lost.

Dealing with the materials first, they were initially pushed into the harbour until someone intervened and the rest of the stone was saved, much being used in the restoration of the Elizabethan manor house at Kingston Maurward, so all was not lost.

What I’ll deal with now, courtesy of Civic Society records, is the grim death of the superb Tudor house at No 4 North Quay known as the Harbour Master’s House and formerly the Queen’s Arms Inn.

Modern Weymouth planners would fight tooth and nail to save such a gem in 2013, but there was a very different attitude after the Second World War.

In 1950 the Tudor house was threatened by a new council plan for the area which proposed demolishing it and every other building along the quay.

The Civic Society fought to save it, enlisting support from the likes of the Ancient Monuments branch of the Ministry of Works but, when it came to a council decision, 30 councillors voted to demolish the historic building and only six to save it.

The battle was still not lost and more support emerged from the Royal Fine Arts Commission and the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings with cash being raised to convert the Tudor house into a club for the elderly.

Several inquiries were held, but the council won the day because it wanted to not only build the now municipal offices on the site but also a public library, car parking and space for an extension.

Having triumphed despite accusations of “overdevelopment”, many people’s worst fears were realised when it took nearly 30 years to find a central library site which had nothing to do with North Quay.

By then, of course, the harbour seaweed had a firm grip on much of the Tudor house remains which now serve as a visible reminder that when you demolish history it is lost for future generations.

Ironically, the council’s monstrous office building, a key fact in the Tudor house’s demise, is now itself facing being sold off under council budget proposals.

This could then see the offices demolished ahead of redevelopment….unless a campaign is launched to save the offices! So far I haven’t heard a whisper of support.


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