Fortuneswell shown within Dorset
|OS grid reference|
|District||Weymouth and Portland|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|EU Parliament||South West England|
Fortuneswell is the largest of eight villages on the Isle of Portland, just off the coast of Dorset in the English Channel. The old fishing community village lies on steeply sloping land on the northern edge of the island (Underhill), where Chesil Beach, the tombolo which connects the island to the mainland, joins the island.
The nearby villages of Chiswell and Castletown almost merge into Fortuneswell, as they share the limited space on the northern slopes of the island. However, Fortuneswell occupies the steepest land far above sea level, whereas Castletown and Chiswell occupy flat land close to sea level, next to Portland Harbour and Chesil Beach respectively.
The village has a main shopping street with several shops, and along with Easton, Fortuneswell is the main hub of the Isle of Portland's activities.
Primary education is provided for around 188 pupils by Underhill Community Junior School. The school was built of Portland Stone in 1913 and the hall was added in 1966. In 1992 the school had three new classrooms added, whilst the existing building was successfully modernised. Fortuneswell was home to Brackenbury Infant School and the Community Nursery, which is now the Isle of Portland Aldridge Community Academy Brackenbury Campus.
Commerce and amenities
Over the last few decades, many shops in Fortuneswell have changed hands frequently, whilst a few shops had lasted longer periods but eventually closed.
Various shops and businesses include a tailor shop, a carpet and furtniture stores, a café, a pharmacy, a post office, a fish & chip shop, a hardware store, an estate agent, a newsagent, and a hairdresser. The Portland Centre, a tourist information centre, is also located in the village. A small number of commercial property and shops in Fortuneswell have been victim to fires, including a takeaway shop and a greengrocers who were victims of arson in the late 1980s.
The Britannia Inn was named after a Royal navy ship which frequently visited the dockyard, whilst the Royal Portland Arms pub was often visited by King George III. The New Star Inn is also located in Fortunewell. Close to the New Star Inn once stood the now gone Meissner's Knap – the Royal Hotel built by Captain Abraham Scriven in 1863, which hosted many important visitors to the breakwater works.
The no longer remaining Regal Cinema was built in Fortuneswell during 1932 and blocked the view of St. John's Church. It was very popular until the advent of television, and in the 1960s it tried to boost patrons by specialising in 'X' Certificate films, particularly as entertainment for Royal Navy sailors. It then became a popular Bingo hall. In the 1990s the building had renewed interest when it became Rumours Nightclub, which featured a large model aircraft hung from the ceiling of the dance floor. A victim of alleged arson, the nightclub caught fire one evening and was demolished soon after. Almost opposite the site of the building is Portland's smallest thoroughfare - Manor Place which is less than thirty inches wide but serves several houses. Within the area of the old site of the cinema stands the Royal Manor Theatre.
A reminder of industry in the back streets of Fortuneswell lies an old Victorian steam laundry, built in 1900, which later housed a Defence Industry Contractor. The building was then converted into an Art Community Centre.
The old school building beside Underhill Methodist Church, now named The Brackenbury Centre was recently renovated and opened to the public as a community centre for art, clubs and socialising. Nearby is Queen Anne House at the top of Fortuneswell, which was built circa 1720 by architect and quarry merchant Thomas Gilbert, who used the house as his own residence. He would later design St George's Church on Portland, a Grade I Listed building.
St. John's Church is located in the village. It was built on a steep hillside in 1838-40 by John Hancock of Weymouth. According to Stuart Morris' book Portland Camera, the early vicars were both colourful and controversial characters. The Underhill Methodist Church was built in 1900, found close to the village's Council offices. Way's Shop, which dated back from the 18th century, closed in early 1973. The Portland Underhill Library, was closed in early 2012 due to lack of volunteers wishing to run it, as well as being a cost-saving measure after consultation with community representatives. Despite attempts by the local community to save the library, including a petition signed by 13,636 people, libraries across Dorset suffered from closure, including Underhill, which closed in late April. The village is now served by a mobile library.
Located in Fortuneswell and close to the villages of Castletown and Chiswell is Victoria Gardens, which were opened in 1904 to mark the 1897 Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria. Before the gardens were created, the land was known as Little Common.
Victoria Gardens features a grassed and formal bedding area, a large rockery running across the centre of the gardens, which is planted with a mixture of shrubs, perennials and bedding plants, as well as a play area, tennis courts and a bowling green.
- Morris, Stuart (1990). Portland Camera. Dovecote Press. pp. Photo 53. ISBN 978-0946159796.
- Morris, Stuart (1990). Portland Camera. Dovecote Press. pp. Photo 58. ISBN 978-0946159796.
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- "Underhill Community Junior School". Ofsted. Retrieved 2013-01-05.
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- "Isle of Portland Aldridge Community Academy | Brackenbury Campus". Ipaca.uk.com. 2012-08-03. Retrieved 2013-06-05.
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- A Church Near You. "Portland: St John the Baptist, Portland - Dorset | Diocese of Salisbury". Achurchnearyou.com. Retrieved 2012-11-17.
- Morris, Stuart (1990). Portland Camera. Dovecote Press. pp. Photo 55. ISBN 978-0946159796.
- Free Portland News February 2013 issue
- "BBC News - Portland Underhill Library to shut due to lack of volunteers". Bbc.co.uk. 2012-01-28. Retrieved 2012-11-17.
- "Campaigners lose Underhill Library fight (From Dorset Echo)". Dorsetecho.co.uk. 2012-01-27. Retrieved 2012-11-17.
- "Mobile library will replace Portland's Underhill facility (From Dorset Echo)". Dorsetecho.co.uk. 2012-04-24. Retrieved 2012-11-17.
- Morris, Stuart (1990). Portland Camera. Dovecote Press. pp. Photo 151. ISBN 978-0946159796.
- "Victoria Gardens, Portland". dorsetforyou.com. Retrieved 2012-11-17.