Castletown shown within Dorset
|District||Weymouth and Portland|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|EU Parliament||South West England|
|UK Parliament||South Dorset|
Castletown is a small village in Underhill on the Isle of Portland in Dorset. It is located close to Fortuneswell, on the shores of Portland Harbour, and includes a sandy beach, as well as one of Portland's notable highlights; Portland Castle, while the Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy is also located nearby.
As with the rest of Portland's villages and settlements, Castletown has been designated as a conservation area, as it is a place of special architectural and historic interest. Underhill, incorporating Castletown and other settlements became designated in 1976 with boundary extensions in 1997 and 2000.
Originally the location for fishermen to launch their boats, Castletown later developed during the 19th-century with the construction of Portland Harbour's breakwaters, and the establishment of the naval base. During the 16th-century, Henry VII had selected Castletown area for the building of Portland Castle, which defended Portland Harbour. Castletown later became an essential part of the horse drawn and cable operated incline railway Merchant's Railway, which was operational from 1826 to 1939. At a time when transporting stone by sea was the only available option, the railway transported stone from the quarries at Tophill to Castletown's pier for shipping.
During the early 19th-century Castletown was still only a small settlement, and aside from the castle and piers, there were only a few residential properties. By the middle of the 19th-century, Castletown changed in character. The large population increase that occurred during the 1840s onwards was due to the construction of Portland Harbour's Breakwaters. A one-sided terrace had been formed by 1864, and along this frontage a number of businesses and residential properties were established. Due to it being the gateway to the naval base, Castletown became a thriving commercial area. In 1944 Portland's harbour was commissioned as USNAAB Portland-Weymouth. The harbour was a major embarkation point for American troops during D-Day, and Castletown saw many soldiers and vehicles pass through.
In 1993, as part of defence spending cuts, the closure was announced of the naval base at Portland. It was forecast that the departure of the Royal Navy would bring economical disaster to Castletown. With the withdrawal of the navy in 1995, Castletown lost the majority of its income and has since suffered from this, with the gradual loss of a number of businesses. In October 2014 Nemesis Properties applied for planning permission to redevelop Castletown Pier, and work began during 2015 on transforming the pier into "Crabbers Wharf". In June 2015 further development plans were revealed for the regeneration of Castletown, including a "scuba diving tourist facility, an American themed D-Day attraction and museum." It was also suggested that talks with Portland Port may allow Portland's two Mulberry Harbour Phoenix Units to be opened to the public.
A small beach is found in the village, close to the entrance of Portland Port. The area still features several hotels and pubs, largely established for the navy personnel that once came from the port. The Osprey Leisure Centre is located in Castletown, which was formally known as the Boscawen Centre, and was opened to the public in May 2007. Originally it was a private Royal Navy facility during the 1980s.
Castletown also holds the Portland Community Hospital. This was originally a Royal Naval Hospital which served Portland's naval base from the late 19th century until 1957, when the hospital was handed over to the NHS. Castletown's Stone Pier, where stone was once shipped, is now mainly used for boat maintenance.
Alongside the main road of Castletown, two large construction blocks are found. The blocks, known as the Hardy complex, and totaling £25-30 million, were built as barracks/accommodation for the use of Royal Navy personnel during the 1980s, along with the swimming sports centre. During 2004-05, the two blocks were stripped bare, and left as empty shells. Construction work began for the right block in 2007 and were largely completed by June 2008. The block, named Ocean Views, includes 554 apartments. The left block still remains derelict today, awaiting construction.
Grade listed features
Castletown has a wide array of architecture and buildings, a number of which are Grade Listed.
Portland Castle has been designated as a Grade I Listed building. It is one of three buildings on Portland to be Grade I Listed. Additionally, in October 1981, the castle had become scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979. The Captain's House, a large detached house, adjoining Portland Castle, is designated a Grade II* Listed building. The gateway and curtain wall to the south east of the house became Grade II* Listed at the same time. Located around 23 metres (75 ft) south of the entrance to The Captain's House is a War Department/Admiralty boundary marker, which has been Grade II Listed since May 1993.
The Royal Breakwater Hotel was designated Grade II in May 1993. At the end of the village, at the entrance of Portland Port, is the former Dockyard Police Station. The MOD police station was initially a railway station, and is Grade II Listed.
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