1 Castletown


Heritage Category:
Listed Building
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Date of most recent amendment:
Statutory Address:
1 Castletown, Portland Harbour, Dorset, DT5 1BD


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Statutory Address:
1 Castletown, Portland Harbour, Dorset, DT5 1BD

The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Dorset (Unitary Authority)
National Grid Reference:


Former customs house. Mid-to late C19.

Reasons for Designation

1 Castletown is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

Architectural interest:

* For its accomplished, formal composition in the Gothic style, and the quality of its decorative detailing; * Good survival of plan form and original fixtures and fittings.

Historic interest:

* For its role first as a customs house, and then as a police station, in the administration and security of the nationally important naval base at Portland; * The carved royal monogram to the gable emphasises the port’s relationship with Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, and their support of the scheme to create a harbour of refuge.

Group value:

* As part of a largely complete naval base of considerable importance, specifically designed as the first safe anchorage for the replenishment of the navy’s fleet of steam-driven warships.


The area around Portland Harbour has historically been recognised as an important military strategic location. The advent of a steam-driven naval fleet in the early to mid-C19 necessitated the storage of large quantities of coal, not only at the dockyards, but also at strategic locations determined by the likelihood of enemy attack and the limited range of the steamship when using its engines alone. Portland, conveniently situated equidistant between Portsmouth and Plymouth and facing the French naval dockyard at Cherbourg, was established as the first naval anchorage specifically designed for the navy’s fleet of steam-driven warships, and the necessary breakwaters and coaling facilities were an integral part of the scheme. Suggestions for fortifying the anchorage here were first put forward in 1835. An 1844 survey map of Portland, by surveyor John Taperell, shows the proposed breakwater structures of the scheme designed by the Admiralty’s Chief Engineer, James Meadow Rendel. Preliminary works for the breakwaters began in 1847 with the formal construction of the inner breakwater being marked by a ceremony in which HRH Prince Albert laid the foundation stone on 25 July 1849.

1 Castletown appears to have been built in the mid-to late C19 to serve the naval base at Portland. It is labelled as a customs house on the first edition (1891) and second edition (1903) Ordnance Survey map, becoming a police station in the early C20 when a new customs house was built to the west, on the opposite side of the road. The late C19 single-storey stone wall to the east concealed a small yard containing a wash house and a coal house. This has been roofed over.


Former customs house of the mid-to late C19 and former railway station, to the east, of the early C20, with late-C20 alterations and additions.

MATERIALS: No. 1, the former railway station, and the flanking walls, are of coursed, rock-faced stone with ashlar dressings. The addition to No. 2 is rendered, and No. 2 is of snecked stone. All have slate tile roofs.

PLAN: a linear range that from right (east) to left (west) comprises a single-storey former railway station with flanking walls, a two-bay, two-storey, gabled building (No. 1), and a three-bay, two-storey building with a hipped roof (No. 2).

EXTERIOR: the former railway station is a single-storey building with a pitched roof; corrugated iron to the sides and front overhang the canted frontage. To either side, stone walls with coping stones and a central doorway are connected to the railway station with brick. No. 1 is a two-storey, two-bay building with a coped gable to the side (east) and principal (north) elevation. It has ashlar quoins and dressings, plain bands at intervals and a moulded plat and cill band which continue around the cast iron downpipe which has decorative brackets. The ground floor has a framed door with diagonal planks, and a transom light, and to the right a pair of sash windows divided by a hollow moulded transom. All are beneath hollow-moulded, four-centred arch heads with spandrels. At first floor, the window openings have square heads, and the oriel window to the right has a stone tile roof. Above the oriel window is a square recess with a stone shield carved with the royal monogram VR. There is a first-floor sash window to the east elevation, and a tall lateral stone stack, with a pair of octagonal shafts, to the west elevation. The rear elevation is blind.

No. 2 is a three-bay, two-storey building with a shallow hipped roof; the bay to the left is an early C20 addition, and is rendered. At ground floor there are two pairs of four-light sash windows, and a single sash window to the right (also at first floor), each with a heavy stone cill. The windows to the right are set within moulded stone window surrounds. Both doorways have four-panelled doors; that to the left is beneath a transom light, that to the right has a moulded stone canopy with console brackets. The first floor has a pair of timber bay windows, 1:3:1, supported on wooden brackets. Attached to the rear elevation is an outbuilding.

INTERIOR: the interiors have been modernised. No. 1 and No. 2 retain their mid-to late C19 staircase and fire surrounds. There are Art Nouveau, cast-iron fireplaces within the extension to No. 2. The outbuilding to the rear of No. 2 has a late C19 toilet.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number:
Legacy System:


Keystone (Historic Buildings Consultants), 'The Portland Naval Base, Dorset K/428', Volume 1 and Volume 2. (1993).
OS Map 6” (1891 edn).
OS Map 6” (1903 edn).
OS Map 6” (1929 edn).


This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.

End of official listing

Images of England

Images of England was a photographic record of every listed building in England, created as a snap shot of listed buildings at the turn of the millennium. These photographs of the exterior of listed buildings were taken by volunteers between 1999 and 2008. The project was supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Date: 02 Jul 2001
Reference: IOE01/04605/19
Rights: Copyright IoE Mr Reg Perry. Source Historic England Archive
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