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Southwell Landslip And Surrounding Area

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This area is dominated by quarrying activity on both sides of the main road which runs from Easton to Southwell.

A football field existed near [3] between the World Wars but this, like many footpaths and pasture land, has been devoured by the exploitation of Portland Stone.

Pennsylvania Castle lies just outside the top right-hand corner of this picture.

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The main part of Suckthumb Quarry is covered by the web page to the east - please click here.

Amateur War Gamers meet in this part of the quarry opposite Pennsylvania Castle,

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One of the few surviving stone carved animal troughs photographed in 1990. This stood in a field to the south of Perryfields Industrial estate which is seen in the background. This has now been turned into a housing estate. When this field was quarried out the trough was destroyed.

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Sunset behind the signpost on the corner of Weston Street by Perryfields Industrial Estate. This photograph was taken in 1989. In 2015 the signpost still existed but much broken and dilapidated. By 2016 it had disappeared.

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Perryfields is the area on the opposite side of the main road from the Pennsylvania Castle.

Until a decade or two ago there was huge masonry industry based here. It contained the largest stone cutting diamond edged saw in the world.

As with the rest of the stone industry on Portland, the requirements for quality stone as a building material dwindled and the site was taken over by Cosens boat builders.

This seemed a curious place to build and service large boats as they could only reach the sea by being transported down through Fortuneswell by way of a steep and narrow street. Every time a huge boat was moved down to the sea all traffic was disrupted on and off the island.

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Eventually  the Cosens boat company moved to a more convenient location and the land was cleared for housing. The above picture shows the industrial buildings being dismantled in 2008.

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Eventually only this house remained on the site and in April 2015 it was boarded up and still standing despite being surrounded by an extensive new housing site.


The Perryfields site cleared and ready for development.


Building underway in April 2015.




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The Cove Holiday Park stands immediately south of Pennsylvania Castle. The website is here. In 2014 the park was bought by the owners of Pennsylvania Castle.

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Cheyne car park is a small area levelled beside the road from Pennsylvania Castle and Southwell. It is a very popular place to park a car, look out to sea and view the magnificent stretch of the Jurassic Coastline from Ringstead all the way to St Aldhelm’s Head in the Purbecks.

North from the car park lies the Southwell Landslip and to the south is Duncecroft Quarry both of which are described below.


The car-parking area is on the extreme right of this picture and we see the result of a popular pastime on Portland which is dumping rubbish anywhere and everywhere without regard for beauty or the environment.

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I doubt whether many local Portlanders are aware of Duncecroft Quarry as it is not visible from the road or even from the sea. It lies to the north of Cheyne House and is only accessible by a difficult footpath - seen above - from the Cheyne car-park and viewpoint.


A great deal of stone was removed from this area leaving sheer walls or untouched stone. The traditional method of ‘backfilling’ was used as shown above.




In the northern end of the quarry is a possible entrance to a cave system. I did not explore this being on my own and not having a torch but it looked worth an exploration by anyone interested in holes in the ground.


I did get this far however before turning back. It looked as though it might continue for some distance.


A tramway track runs across the quarry from east to west ending at the cliff edge.


The large iron bolt in the block of stone was intriguing. Was it part of a crane? Nearby was a length of tramway rail sticking out of the ground as seen below.



The southern end of Duncecroft Quarry is a dead end at the cliff where Cheyne Pumping Station stands high above.





At the cliff edge is a wonderful view along the coastline. However, where I was standing was directly above Cheyne Tunnel and the huge rocks that have blocked the tunnel fell from the unstable cliffs at this point.

Only an idiot would stand at this point taking pictures!

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This landslip occurred in 1734 over a length of coastline of 1.5 miles (3 km). It is Britain's second largest recorded historical landslide. Please click here for an excellent article about the Southwell Landslip.

The region between the main road and the sea has also been subject to extensive quarrying as well as slippage which has tilted huge masses of rocks at crazy angles.

This is an interesting part of the coastline to explore and can be reached by following a well-trodden footpath leading south from Church Ope Cove.



Above and below we see typical scenes along the Southwell Landslip pictured in 1990. Huge blocks of stone have slid and tilted over making this a fascinating landscape to explore with caution. On the left is a deep gully which is impenetrably filled with bushes and brambles. I have explored this large hole by throwing stones into it. Many returned a metallic 'clang' which suggested that plenty of Portlander's cars have been sent to their grave in this hole.

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This picture shows the seaward part of the landslip in 2016.




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The landslip area can either be accessed from Church Ope Cove by climbing this steep and difficult path or by an easier path from the Cheyne car parking area. This path is not recommended as it is steep and dangerous. The right-hand view above shows the path looking down from the top.


To the right of the dangerous path is a ravine which is relatively clear of brambles. It is a dead end and difficult to scramble into. However it contains very good climbing cliffs and steel bolts have been fixed up the rock faces to help climbers.

It is known as ‘The Lost Valley’ to local climbers and individual climbs have been named - see the list under ‘The Lost Valley’ list on the website here. The list includes such quirky names as ‘Marry Me In Vegas’, ‘Tug On This Jody’, ‘Birdie Num Num’, ‘No Chutney On His Ferret’, ‘Tactical Nuclear Penguin’ and so on.


In the ravine October 2016. My best friend Sandy shows the scale of the rock face.


This great picture (copyright Adam Perrett) shows Sarah climbing in ‘The Lost Valley’.

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The end of this ravine appears to be a dead end due to brambles. However, I have been assured by climbing friends that it is possible to get through into another ravine with more climbing routes. Getting through this mass of brambles is a challenge I will undertake soon.


I puzzle over part of a child’s lost toy tractor.

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It was from this part of the coastline on the Southwell Landslip that much of Portland's raw sewerage once pour into the sea. I recall in the early 1970s sitting close by the end of the sewer pipe and watching all manner of disgusting things dropping into the sea - the pipe did not even discharge below the low tide water line.

The sewerage was carried in a pipe from the main road down to the sea in an exposed rusty pipe.

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Here we see in the left-hand side of the pictures the abandoned and rusty sewer pipe coming down from the main road to the sea. Church Ope Cove is on the right of this picture and the steps down the the cove are behind the upper vent pipe.


Above I was exploring a vent pipe on the old sewer system in 1990 and, below, my best friend Sandy joins me to check it again in 2004.


In the 1990s a huge and expensive scheme was completed which involved taking all Portland's sewerage and pumping it to Weymouth. Many Portlanders considered this an excellent idea in view of the centuries old dislike that Portlanders have felt for Weymouthians!

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At the age of 75 I started a new hobby - writing and publishing books. These are available as paperbacks from Amazon - please click here for details. Their overall star rating from readers is Four Stars


Keywords Suckthumb Quarry Perryfields Portland Dorset