WEYMOUTH’S iconic ‘pineapples’ look set to return to their rightful place on the Ridgeway to greet visitors to the borough.
Campaigners are delighted the sculptures will return to the area they were originally meant to be in.
Weymouth and Portland Borough Council has agreed to get a planning application together and explore options to pay for the move, which it reckons will be far cheaper than the £10,000 to £20,000 suggested. The Portland stone pineapples, symbols of wealth and good fortune which sat on plinths, were a gift to the town from Weymouth Rotary Club in 2005 and were placed next to the old A354 on Ridgeway Hill.
They were removed by Dorset County Council when work on the relief road began and kept in storage, and people assumed they would be incorporated in the new road layout.
But they reappeared at the entrance to the Mount Pleasant park and ride site. Some people, including members of the Weymouth Civic Society, were not happy such prominent symbols had been banished to a car park and argued they should be returned to the town’s ‘gateway’.
County council officers defended the decision, saying they felt the pineapples would be displayed to better effect on the approach to the park and ride, and moving them to the new road would create a hazard.
Campaigners kept up the pressure and the issue was put in front of county councillors for a decision.
In June, they backed the idea of relocating them, but felt other groups should take the idea forward and fund the majority of the cost.
Now the borough council is acting to return the pineapples to the Ridgeway to be more ‘prominent’.
A report to next Tuesday’s Management Committee urges councillors to undertake securing necessary planning approval from West Dorset District Council as the site is in its boundary.
Spatial and community policy manager Hilary Jordan says the pineapples could be placed on banks north of the Ridgeway Bridge where they would not obstruct drivers’ visibility, although they would be far apart and the traffic would be moving too fast for people to read the inscriptions.
County council officers have said placing the pineapples on the Ridgeway would affect the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty but Mrs Jordan says the borough’s own landscape architect disagrees. She adds one option for funding is money from the budget for Dorchester Road improvements, part of the Weymouth Relief Road package.
She says the move could be achieved for £5,000 to £6,000 rather than the £10,000 to £20,000 suggested by DCC.
Secretary of Weymouth Civic Society Gerald Mabb said: “We welcome this decision and are pleased to see something moving at last.
“I still don’t think it’s right however that Weymouth ratepayers should fund the relocation of the pineapples when the county council put them at the park and ride site without any consultation.”
Not tropical but very topical
THE man who designed the pineapples says he will be delighted to see them back.
Master stonemason Alan Wolsey, pictured, has been in discussions about relocating the sculptures and says he will using the same team to move them who helped to install them in 2005.
Mr Wolsey said he was very proud of the sculptures, although he admits he got ‘a bit of flack’ after they were originally unveiled.
“You can’t please everyone, I suppose,” said Mr Wolsey.
He revealed the pineapples were chosen from 11 design ideas he came up with and the shape of French pineapples over Caribbean ones.