Locomotive Sheds


Heritage Category:
Listed Building
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Date of most recent amendment:
Location Description:
NGR: SY7001272763
Statutory Address:
Incline Road, Isle of Portland, Dorset, DT5 1DP


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Statutory Address:
Incline Road, Isle of Portland, Dorset, DT5 1DP

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

Location Description:
NGR: SY7001272763
Dorset (Unitary Authority)
National Grid Reference:


Mid-C19 locomotive sheds built to serve the Admiralty Incline Railway, transporting stone from the Admiralty Quarries to Portland Harbour for the construction of breakwaters.

Reasons for Designation

The Locomotive Sheds at East Weare, dating from the mid-C19, are listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

Architectural interest: * The buildings are of a pleasing design, with some architectural detailing and use of good quality Portland stone; * The buildings have a good degree of survival of historic fabric.

Historic interest: * As a relatively rare survival of a mid-C19 example of this building type, and for their role in contributing to the construction of the defences at Portland.

Group value: * As part of a 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 Locomotive Sheds have strong group value with the significant collection of designated assets associated with the military history of the area.


The area around Portland Harbour has historically been recognised as an important military strategic location. 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. 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.

The stone needed for the construction of the breakwaters was to come from Portland itself, and in order to facilitate this a prison was established there in 1848. Prisoners would be used to provide labour for the excavation of stone at the adjacent Admiralty Quarries, and a cable-worked incline railway was constructed to transport the stone on wagons from the quarries down the hill to the harbour where the breakwaters were to be constructed.

At the height of production, the railway would be sending up to 3,000 tons of stone to the harbour each day, and eventually an estimated six million tones were used in the construction of the breakwaters. After several years of production, locomotives began to be used for the quarries and this required the construction of the locomotive shed at the top of the incline for housing the locomotives. The initial construction of the breakwaters was completed in 1872 and the use of the incline railway declined, although it remained intact. It returned to operational use in 1894 when two further breakwaters were constructed, being completed in 1906. Following this, the railway was used less frequently but as required, with the locomotive sheds remaining in use to house a locomotive in readiness.

The quarries and the incline railway were eventually closed in the 1930s. Following this, the sheds were used for storage and are now disused.


Mid-C19 locomotive sheds built to serve the Admiralty Incline Railway, transporting stone from the Admiralty Quarries to Portland Harbour for the construction of breakwaters.

MATERIALS: the sheds are constructed of coursed Portland limestone and have corrugated asbestos roofs.

PLAN: the sheds are aligned roughly north-south and stand to the east of the site of the incline railway, now Incline Road.

EXTERIOR: the building consists of three locomotive sheds, two side by side and one attached at the southern end.

Sheds one and two have segmental arched doorways and windows down each side with flat heads, now boarded up. Both of these sheds have hipped roofs with overhanging eaves. Shed three is an extension of shed two and has a hipped roof at its northern end where it joins shed two. The roof is gabled at its southern end which contains a large door with flat lintel.

INTERIOR: sheds one and two retain timber king post truss roofs, shed three has common rafters with collars. The internal walls are mostly bare stone with some whitewash, and what appears to be a chimney breast surviving in one of the sheds.


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

Legacy System number:
Legacy System:


The Encyclopedia of Portland History - Admiralty Incline Railway, accessed 7.6.17 from http://www.portlandhistory.co.uk/admiralty-incline-railway.html
The Encyclopedia of Portland History - the Old Engine Shed, accessed 7.6.17 from http://www.portlandhistory.co.uk/the-old-engine-shed.html
Keystone (Historic Buildings Consultants), 'The Portland Naval Base, Dorset K/428', Volume 1 and Volume 2. 1993.


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

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