Victoria Gardens, Portland

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Victoria Gardens from the Western corner.

Victoria Gardens is a public garden, located on the Isle of Portland, Dorset, England. It is found within Fortuneswell village area, and close to the villages of Castletown and Chiswell. The gardens have remained a focal point since its establishment.[1]

History[edit]

Victoria Gardens' D-Day memorial.

The idea for a public garden to be created for both Underhill and Tophill on Portland stems back to 1896. Portland's Urban District Council selected Little Common as the site for Victoria Gardens. During 1897, the surveyor Mr E. J. Elford was tasked with developing a plan of Victoria Gardens.[2] The Board of Agriculture approved the scheme on 21 December 1901.

At the same time the scheme for Easton Gardens had been developing, with Easton Square being selected as the site.[3] Once funding had been secured, during November 1902, work started on laying out the gardens.[4] The official opening of the gardens was on 25 May 1904, when Mr Henry Sansom, Chairman of the Urban Council, opened the gardens, marking the 1897 Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria. The event was attended by thousands of local residents and visitors, and they were entertained by performances from the Portland Town Band.[5]

The original 1905 lower gate entrance to the gardens from Victoria Square was later replaced by a new set in 1953. The gates were made by the inmates of HM Prison The Verne. These were later removed after significant rusting, but were not replaced.[6] The garden's bandstand survived until 1966 before it was removed.[7] A new lower gateway was completed in 2015.[8]

D-Day Memorial[edit]

In 1944 Portland's harbour was commissioned as USNAAB Portland-Weymouth. The harbour was a major embarkation point for American troops during D-Day, particularly the US 1st Division who embarked for "Omaha Beach" in June 1944.[9] The island's role in the D-Day landings was celebrated with a ceremony on 22 August 1945, when American Ambassador John D. Winant unveiled a commemorative stone in Victoria Gardens.[10] The stone memorial, locally known as The American Stone, included a plaque honouring the Americans who took part.[11]

The plaque reads: "The major part of the American Assault Force which landed on the shores of Franch on 'D' Day, 6 June 1944, was launched from Portland Harbor. From 6 June 1944 to 7 May 1945, 418,585 troops and 144,093 vehicles were embarked from this harbor. This plaque marks the route which the vehicles and troops took on their way to the points of embarkation. Presented by the 14th major port, U.S. Army." It is signed Harold G. Miller, Major, T.C., Sub Port Commander, and Sherman L Kibor, Colonel, T.C., Port Commander.[12]

Features[edit]

Victoria Gardens' bowling green.

Victoria Gardens largely feature grassed and formal bedding areas, as well as a large rockery running across the centre of the gardens, which is planted with a mixture of shrubs, perennials and bedding plants.

A children's play area is located on the upper tier of the gardens, and two tennis courts are open all year to the public. A bowling green is also located in the centre of the park. The Portland Victoria Bowls Club operate the daily management of the bowling green, however two rinks are available for use by the public for an hourly rate.[13] In July 2011, the club celebrated their 100th anniversary.[14]

Friends of Victoria Gardens[edit]

The play area of Victoria Gardens.

Friends of Victoria Gardens were established in May 2008 with the support of Weymouth and Portland Borough Council, to be responsible for the gardens and their daily management. The aim of the group is to work closely with the Council's Parks Section to make improvements to the gardens for benefit of the community and future generations.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Victoria Gardens, Portland". dorsetforyou.com. Retrieved 2013-03-22. 
  2. ^ http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~pbtyc/Portland/PYB/Gardens.html
  3. ^ http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~pbtyc/Portland/PYB/Gardens.html
  4. ^ http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~pbtyc/Portland/PYB/Gardens.html
  5. ^ http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~pbtyc/Portland/PYB/Gardens.html
  6. ^ Portland Urban District Council (Late 1950s). Isle of Portland Official Guide. Ed. J. Burrow & Co. Ltd., Publishers - Chelternham and London. p. 24.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  7. ^ Free Portland News. March 2013.  Missing or empty |title= (help);
  8. ^ http://www.dorsetecho.co.uk/news/11606030.Public_garden_set_to_bloom_thanks_to_improvements/
  9. ^ http://www.portland-port.co.uk/history
  10. ^ Pomeroy, Colin A. (1995). Military Dorset Today: Second World War Scenes and Settings That Can Still Be Seen 50 Years on. Silver Link Publishing Ltd. p. 138. ISBN 978-1857940770. 
  11. ^ "Chiswell, Portland, Dorset". Geoffkirby.co.uk. Retrieved 2013-03-22. 
  12. ^ http://www.geoffkirby.co.uk/Portland/680735/
  13. ^ "Victoria Gardens, Portland". dorsetforyou.com. Retrieved 2013-03-22. 
  14. ^ "Portland Victoria BC celebrate centenary (From Dorset Echo)". Dorsetecho.co.uk. 2011-07-05. Retrieved 2013-03-22. 

Coordinates: 50°33′43″N 2°26′50″W / 50.562°N 2.4473°W / 50.562; -2.4473