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Celebrating 450 years of Weymouth

Weymouth 450 – the history

Weymouth started life as 2 separate, independent towns, one on each side of the River Wey. This year marks 450 years from when Weymouth and Melcombe Regis were combined by an Act of Parliament.

While it’s thought Weymouth was established as early as the 10th century and its first charter was granted in 1252, it was confined to the south and west of Weymouth Harbour. It’s thought Weymouth was the earlier of the 2 settlements, formed from a small huddle of fishermen’s huts and dwellings.

The 2 settlements shared the river that lay between them, which provided both towns with a steady income from shipping and fishing. From as early as the 13 Century, there were disagreements over the ownership of the harbour and profits from the stretch of water between the towns.

The disagreements and assertions over the rights continued over centuries and reached a pivotal point under the reign of Elizabeth I. Constant petitions to the Queen and her Privy Council resulted in her officials attempting to intervene to broker a peaceful agreement. Their attempts failed.

The Queen and her ministers then used Parliament to bring about a solution to the ongoing problem. In April 1571 an Act of Parliament was passed, forcing the towns into a union, creating the new Borough of Weymouth and Melcombe Regis.

The construction of the first bridge over the harbour in the early 1590s was the first physical recognition of the union and strengthened the identity of the 2 settlements as one town.

With thanks to Richard Samways from the Weymouth Museum for the information. Read more about Weymouth’s history

Weymouth 450 events

We wanted to celebrate this landmark anniversary with exciting events and activities involving the whole community, so we offered grants for local community groups, or not-for-profit organisations, to help them to put on events.

Here are some of the events that took place to celebrate the 450th anniversary of Weymouth.

You can search all Weymouth events on our events calendar.

The following organisations were given grants to put on events:

All Saints ChurchAll Saints Arts & Flower Festival in September
All Saints School  History Art Project. Out of School Project – date of completion October 2021.
Alternative Education ProviderThe Beachside Holiday Club plan to create a massive piece of art – a postcard from Weymouth depicting our hometown and celebrating its 450 year history.
Guardians of the Old Town HallOral History of the High Street.  Ongoing. Collecting memories event, Old Town Hall, 10am to 4pm, Saturday 6th November.
Holy Trinity Parochial ChurchTalk on Elizabethan Music followed by evening concert of English Renaissance music.  
Saturday 2nd October – 3pm Music of the Golden Age and 6:30pm Renaissance Concert.
Nothe Fort  Melwey Games. Took place on Saturday 3rd July.  
Nothe FortBirthday party to celebrate Weymouth 450 in the form of a Silence Disco which would appeal to local families and the younger audience.  Taking place on the 4th September – tickets to be purchased from the Nothe Fort.  
Opportunities R UnlimitedA short film depicting five events in chronological order on the 450 year history of Weymouth.
Parish of Wyke Regis, All Saints with St Edmunds ChurchesAll Saints Art Festival 25th and 26th September 2021.  
St Marys Church  Craft events / community 450 bunting.
The Friends of Radipole Park and GardensHalloween event including collecting oral histories and memories for the Heritage Cafe.
The Volunteer Centre, DorsetSt John Garden Celebration
Thomas Fowell Buxton SocietyAn Evening of Music of the Elizabethan Age at St Mary’s Church, Weymouth on the 21st August 2021 at 7:30pm
Weymouth Museum TrustDisplay, open day for residents bring their memories, photographs and artefacts of Weymouth and Melcombe Regis.  The first were over the weekend of the 15/16th July and is ongoing.
Weymouth Museum TrustTo allow free access to Weymouth residents to the museum across the Summer.
Weymouth Rowing Club  Intra Club Day for all members. Took place on Saturday 3rd July.  

Weymouth and Melcombe Regis Beach and Harbour History Trail

In 1571, during the reign of Elizabeth I, the towns of Weymouth and Melcombe Regis, on either side of the River Wey, were united into a single borough. Follow this trail to discover some of the town’s fascinating history including the arrival of the Black Death, its importance as a Georgian resort and its involvement in the D-Day invasion.

Why not look around the Old Town Hall and see how it’s changed over the years.

MelWey Games

The fabulous MelWey Games took place at The Nothe Fort on Saturday 3rd July 2021. Have a look on the MelWey Facebook page to see the action.

This includes the rowing race, see who was victorious.

There was even barrel rolling and tug of war. Catch up on the action from these, and the other events, on the Dorsetbays Facebook page.

450 Merchandise

Weymouth Town Council is developed the profile and popularity of the Weymouth 450 Anniversary campaign by launching a unique range of merchandise.