Fog, Prison and the Sea: Photos of the Isle of Portland at Night


Weymouth harbourAmanda Jane, WeymouthThe Verne CitadelThe prison in the fogThe Olympic ringsPortland Bill lighthouse
The sea at night by Portland BillPortland Bill: the coast at nightThe Cove House Inn at nightFortuneswell at night

Fog, Prison and the Sea: The Isle of Portland at Night, a set on Flickr.

Last week, I was in Dorset for a four-day holiday with my family, staying in a rather magical, liminal place — Chiswell, a little village on the eastern end of Chesil Beach, on the Isle of Portland.

Chesil Beach is one of the great natural features of the UK, a shingle beach (technically a barrier beach), which is 18 miles long (29 km), 660 feet wide (200 m) and 50 feet (15 m) high, and staying there was a wonderful break from the frenetic, jangling polyrhythms of modern life, one in which the beach, the sea, the sky — and the changing weather patterns — were completely riveting, and pretty much all that was needed for a glimpse of the kind of stripped-down, old-school existence that those of us old enough to recall the pre-mobile, pre-computer age ought to remember, although many seem to have forgotten.

We were staying in a converted former chapel and former fishermen’s store, where the men used to sit around mending nets, as boys ran errands, hoping to be chosen to go out to sea. The cottage is right by the shoreline, and in my first set I posted photos from our first day, on and around the beach and the seashore. Later, we drove to Weymouth for fish and chips, and then, with a wonderfully atmospheric fog descending, we drove back to Portland and up the steep road to the summit, where we encountered the Verne Citadel, a former fortress that is now a prison, which loomed out of the fog like Azkaban in the Harry Potter books. We then drove on to Portland Bill, where the famous lighthouse was illuminating the night, while huge waves crashed endlessly offshore in the blue hour before darkness fell, and returned to Chiswell and its neighbour, Fortuneswell, both illuminated with what appeared be hundreds of tiny lights.

It was all like some sort of strange dream, in which the supposedly mundane becomes enchanted, and I hope to have captured something of it in this set of photos, posted as a contrast to the set I published yesterday, of Margaret Thatcher’s funeral in London (and see the commentary here).

There’ll be more Dorset photos along soon, and I also hope that I’ll soon have time to resume posting photos of London as part of my ongoing project to photograph the whole of London by bike, which I began almost a year ago. To date, I have posted around 1,700 photos from this project, although I have over 10,000 more awaiting publication here, and also in other forms — hopefully through books and exhibitions. Watch this space for further information!

Andy Worthington is the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press, distributed by Macmillan in the US, and available from Amazon — click on the following for the US and the UK) and of two other books: Stonehenge: Celebration and Subversion and The Battle of the Beanfield. To receive new articles in your inbox, please subscribe to my RSS feed — and I can also be found on Facebook, Twitter, Flickr (my photos) and YouTube. Also see my definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, updated in April 2012, “The Complete Guantánamo Files,” a 70-part, million-word series drawing on files released by WikiLeaks in April 2011, and details about the documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (co-directed by Polly Nash and Andy Worthington, and available on DVD here — or here for the US). Also see my definitive Guantánamo habeas list and the chronological list of all my articles, and please also consider joining the “Close Guantánamo campaign”, and, if you appreciate my work, feel free to make a donation.

10 Responses

  1. Andy Worthington says...

    On Facebook, Carol Anne Grayson wrote:

    Great atmospheric photos Andy…

  2. Andy Worthington says...

    Christopher John Webster wrote:

    beautiful blues…

  3. Andy Worthington says...

    Gabriella Turek wrote:

    Cold & blue & beautiful

  4. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Carol, Chris and Gabriella. I’ve very glad you liked the set. It really did feel as though we had stepped outside of the normal world.

  5. Andy Worthington says...

    When I posted “The Cove House Inn at night,” I wrote:

    Want to get away? I recommend the Isle of Portland, in Dorset. From my latest photo set, this is the pub next to where I was staying with my family for four days last week – on Chesil Beach, by the sea wall that was built to stop the floods that used to regularly lay waste to this part of the coast.

  6. Andy Worthington says...

    Kevi Brannelly wrote:

    Looks a lot like our portland (maine) beautiful

  7. Andy Worthington says...

    Carol Anne Grayson wrote:

    I am thinking Jamaica Inn Daphne du Maurier… lovely

  8. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Kevi and Carol. Portland, Maine – somewhere I’d love to visit one day, Kevi, and yes, Carol, it does bring up those associations, doesn’t it, although the Jamaica Inn looks rather upmarket these days:

  9. Andy Worthington says...

    Carol Anne Grayson wrote:

    oh no lol… not what I had in mind

  10. Andy Worthington says...

    I’m with you on that, Carol!

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Andy Worthington

Investigative journalist, author, campaigner, commentator and public speaker. Recognized as an authority on Guantánamo and the “war on terror.” Co-founder, Close Guantánamo and We Stand With Shaker. Also, photo-journalist (The State of London), and singer and songwriter (The Four Fathers).
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