Nothe Gardens is a public garden, located in Weymouth, Dorset, England. Positioned at a location overlooking both Weymouth and Portland harbours, the informal gardens are often acclaimed to be the most beautiful the borough has to offer.
The Nothe is an area, covering 40,000 square metres of land, that has not been changed by modern development. In the past the area played an important military role as defense of Weymouth port, whilst today it is a more tranquil place. The main flat top of the Nothe Gardens was once a military encampment and is public open space today. In 1888, the Gardens were at the beginning of their establishment.
World War II
During World War II, a decision was made to place the main anti-aircraft guns of the peninsula within the gardens. As such a heavy anti-aircraft battery was constructed to the west of Nothe fort. The battery used four 3.7 inch Vickers Armstrong anti-aircraft guns. A restored gun of the same type is now situated on the ramparts of Nothe Fort. The battery was later removed, entirely by the 1970s, and replaced by a car park.
Aside from the main anti-aircraft battery, Nothe Gardens was also the location of a World War II coastal artillery searchlight defence, which was installed to assist the battery and the fort by illuminating surface targets for the gunners. Equipped with a 90 millimetre searchlight, the emplacement was situated at the bottom of the garden, overlooking Portland Harbour, and formed part of the Nothe Fort defences. It would have been constructed between 1940–41, using concrete. The emplacement continued to remain in the gardens throughout the 20th-century, until 1988 when land slippage within that area of the gardens destroyed the structure. However, by this point the Nothe Fort had become a tourist attraction, and members of the Weymouth Civic Society decided to rebuild a replica of the structure inside the grounds of the fort. The replica was equipped with an original 90mm searchlight and associated equipment, and remains accessible to the public through entry to the fort. It is situated on the northern side of the fort. Another searchlight emplacement, used as a sentry light to guard the entrance of Weymouth Harbour, is situated nearby at Weymouth's South Pier, and has become scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979.
For public use, picnic areas are available for use, large grassed areas for ball games whilst the nearby rock pools of Newton's Cove, found at the bottom of the gardens, are a popular attraction. A cafe is also on site, whilst an ice cream hut is found in Newton's Cove.
The area attracts many types of animals and species, and often displays various bird species and grey squirrels. Other animals found in the area includes bats, roe deer, foxes, badgers, hedgehogs, shrews, mice and slow worms, amongst other creatures such as insects, whilst plant life is also varied. A vast array of choice trees and established shrub beds are found in the area.
Friends of the Nothe Gardens
The Friends of the Nothe Gardens are a band of residents and locals who care about the gardens and promote the enjoyment of the area. The supporters main goal is to make the gardens "a jewel amongst Weymouth's attractions".
In recent times, the trust has been funded by a grant from the Lottery.
Use in the 2012 Olympics
For the Weymouth and Portland Sailing Events in the 2012 Olympics, the gardens were closed to the public, where organising committee LOCOG decided to charge spectators £20 to £50 for a day's admission to the gardens to view the sailing events. As a result, the local residents vented anger at the borough councillors for supporting the plan.
Furthermore, a decision followed and decided that residents of Weymouth would not be allowed to watch regatta without a ticket even if their property overlooked the area. In a bid to stop people catching a glimpse, a fence was planned to be built around Nothe Gardens to enable it to be managed as a ticketed site. Nothe Fort recruited 150 people to help out as marshals during the games, as an expected 4,600 ticketed spectators a day flocked to the official view point during the fortnight.
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