Weymouth-Dorset.co.uk Local History

The Old Harbour

Hope Street & Hope Square

Up until near the end of the eighteenth century the old harbour of Weymouth, formerly known as Ope Cove, had a larger inlet here than is obvious today. At the time John Hutchins wrote his History and Antiquities of the County of Dorset in 1774, the inlet ran up as far as where the Red Lion public house stands today.

Standing in the middle by the harbourside now there are three streets leading down to Hope Square. On the left-hand side, Hope Street, in the middle Cove Street and to the right Trinity Street. Major reclamation of land took place thereby filling in a good deal of the inlet. Until this time the buildings along both Trinity Street and Hope Street faced onto the water.

Pilgrim House, Hope Street, Weymouth, Dorset

Pilgrim House, No.1 Hope Street

Hope Street, Weymouth Old Harbour, Dorset

(from left) Nos. 22 & 20 Hope Street

Coming down the street from Brewers Quay in Hope Square into Hope Street, the buildings on the right hand side are of particular interest. Firstly is Number 1, now known as Pilgrim House but formerly known as the White House. It is believed to date from the eighteenth century and is an example of the standing of the former local merchants.

Pilgrim House was the first community centre in the area having been opened as such in 1962 after major fundraising efforts by the town's Rotary Club for restoration.

Towards the seaward end of Hope Street some of the buildings stood backing onto the inlet until further reclamation of land took place in the early nineteenth century resulting in the buildings being demolished. Hope Street still retains some of its charm from a bygone era.

The white painted house in the centre of the first picture is said to date from about 1620. According to Eric Ricketts in his Old Buildings of Weymouth, this house is typical of Weymouth around that time. The next house going down the street, number 22, dating from around 1800, was formerly the Hope Tavern. The bracket for holding the inn sign can still be clearly seen. As the Hope Tavern it was run by the Perks family towards the end of that century.

Through studying the census returns, it was noticed that the house numbers in Hope Street ran the opposite way to what they do now. The enumerators started off at the far sea end of what is now known as the Nothe Parade, but was then known as Hope Quay. This led directly into Hope Street and No. 3 Hope Street is recorded on the census as being the Hope Tavern which today is number 22 Hope Street. On the other side of Hope Street stood more houses than there are today. Many of these were pulled down in the late 19th century for alterations to be carried out at the harbour inlet.

Red Lion, Hope Square, Weymouth, Dorset

The Red Lion, Hope Square

Standing on the opposite corner to Pilgrim House on the corner of Hope Street within Hope Square is the Red Lion public house. The building shows a date of 1878, but was known to exist in 1851 when Edward Newman was the landlord.

This whole area underwent quite a transformation some years ago and is now something of a tourist attraction in itself. The most notable change was in the use of the old brewery. Up until the 1980s Devenish were still brewing their beer here.

Since its closure in 1985 the building has been transformed and taken a tasteful step back in time in more ways than one. Now known as Brewers Quay, it stands opposite the Red Lion in Hope Square. Beer was brewed on this site for hundreds of years, since at least 1252. It was the ideal site for a brewery as water was close by coming from a spring at Chapelhay and nearby at Radipole there were barley fields.

In 1462 John Devenish was appointed supervisor of all brewers in the King's realm. The Devenish family took over the entire site in Hope Square in the 1820's and they continued brewing beer here up until 1985.

Brewers Quay is many things in one. It has its own pub and many little shops that give the impression of having been sited here for a very long time as it is all set up in a recreated Victorian street scene.

Brewers Quay, Hope Square, Weymouth, Dorset

Brewers Quay

Brewers Quay also houses the Timewalk, a walk-through exhibition of recreated scenes from Weymouth's history with sounds. It is a fascinating adventure through time with such scenes as the Black Death, the Spanish Armada, the Civil War, smuggling, King George III who made regular visits to Weymouth, and much more.

Up at the top of the building there is the exhibition of brewing. It tells of seven hundred years of brewing history and of the Devenish family and their nearby rivals.

Also housed at Brewers Quay is the Weymouth Museum with relics and artefacts dating back to Roman times. The museum used to be housed at the end of Westham Bridge in the former schoolhouse of Melcombe Regis, which is no longer there.

In the summer and at a few other times during the year, there is a horse and cart service running from Brewers Quay, alongside the harbour, over the Town Bridge and into town. Pulled by two beautiful shire horses, the passengers sit in a former dray.


There has been much discussion of the Hope Street area on the Weymouth & Dorset Local History (& family history) Forums on this site.

Old Harbour - Trinity Street and Trinity Road

Old Weymouth High Street & Chapelhay

Main Harbour

The Beach, Seafront and Bay


Nothe and Nothe Fort


Tall Ships Race 1994


Local Attractions and Places to Visit


External Links:

Brewers Quay

Weymouth Civic Society

Weymouth Museum


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