Weymouth’s popularity as a seaside holiday resort dates from 1789 when King George III first came here as an aid to his rehabilitation after an illness. Sea bathing was the prescribed cure and this was done from a bathing machine. This comprised of a hut on wheels which was pulled into shallow water by a horse.
The bather would descend steps into the sea and after his immersion return the same way with his dignity intact. A replica machine is still kept on display on the Esplanade.
The King continued to spend six weeks a year in Weymouth for the next sixteen years. His patronage of the town is still remembered in his huge statue on the Esplanade and the equestrian figure on the White Horse cut into the chalky hillside at nearby Osmington.
Weymouth retains a remarkably good looking sea-front where elegant Georgian terraced houses and hotels back the wide Esplanade and long sandy beach. The brightly painted Queen Victoria Jubilee Clock Tower fits comfortably in this setting.
The town’s main streets of St. Mary and St. Thomas contain many excellent and cosmopolitan shops and restaurants, and this theme continues on the harbour sides, where an ever-changing scene of commercial and pleasure craft can be enjoyed while partaking of refreshments. Boat trips of scenic and historical interest are available from many points along the harbour.
Immediately west of the Town Bridge the river turns north and widens as Radipole Lake where there is swannery and, at its upper end a bird sanctuary operated by the RSPB.