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A large town and harbour on the south coast, in the county of Dorset, which has always been a significant port town

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Weymouth is a large town and harbour on the south coast, in the county of Dorset. It has always been a significant port town, ever since it first came to prominence in the 12th century.
The town we now know as Weymouth actually used to be two different settlements. The second was called "Melcombe Regis", and this was also a popular port. Unfortunately, this meant that it was probably the first entry point for the Black Death - a great plague that swept over England in the 14th century. Nevertheless, after the disease passed, the two towns continued growing, and in 1571, they were officially joined together.
Throughout their entire history, it's obvious that Weymouth's residents have always been seafaring folk. In 1635, dozens of their number sailed across the Atlantic Ocean, and set up a new Weymouth in Massachusetts. The American town remains there to this day.
Meanwhile, back in Dorset, the English Weymouth developed into a popular tourist destination. This was spurred on by the frequent, enthusiastic visits of King George III, who made the journey from London as often as he could. The townsfolk soon decided to erect a statue in celebration of this, and so they put up a stone representation of George, riding his white horse, which still stands on the seafront. They also carved a similar likeness into the nearby chalk cliffs, just outside of town - and rumour has it that when the King saw this, he noticed that his horse was facing away from town. He became angry, thinking that it meant the locals wanted him to leave their town! The carving's designer was apparently so distraught by this that he promptly killed himself.
However, King George's anger didn't stop other tourists from wanting to visit, and today, Weymouth is still a major destination for traditional seaside holidays. Thousands of people come every year, to sit on the beach, and to enjoy the countless different events and activities that take place here. Throughout the year, there are boat races, fireworks festivals, volleyball tournaments, beach motocross displays, and dozens more. The reliable offshore winds make this a perfect area for wind and kite surfing, while the relatively calm waters in the bay make it a popular spot for scuba diving, and shipwreck exploration. When you also add in the local maritime museums, aquariums, and water gardens, it becomes almost impossible to run out of things to do!
Keen seafarers will want to make the trip to nearby Portland, which is home to the National Sailing Academy. The facilities here are second to none, and so it acted as the host for all the sailing events in the 2012 Olympics. This will be a huge event for the town, and so many of the central buildings are being redeveloped in preparation for it. Portland is also the quarry location for Portland Stone which has been used to adorn some of the nations most famous buildings such as St Paul's Cathedral and Buckingham Palace.
Weymouth is also notable for its position in the centre of Dorset's famed Jurassic Coast, a renowned stretch of shoreline that is a protected World Heritage site. The area features eye-catching cliffs, as well as several unusual rock formations. It has also been the site for many important archaeological digs, which have discovered hundreds of dinosaur fossils.
All in all, if you're after a classic holiday by the sea, then it's difficult to think of anywhere else in the country that would be better.
Visitor Information
Weymouth Tourist Information Centre, Pavillion Theatre, The Esplanade, Weymouth, DT4 8ED. Tel: 01305 785 747

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