A DORSET musician has written a musical theatre production commemorating major historical milestones for both Weymouth, Dorset, and Weymouth Massachusetts - entitled 'From Old England to New England.'

Weymouth singer-songwriter John West is to take audiences on an aural expedition through time to celebrate the 450th anniversary of Melcombe Regis joining with 'old' Weymouth, to form the present-day town.

The production also celebrates the 400-year anniversary of Weymouth Massachusetts being founded - after historian Mr West discovered the milestones are just one year apart - falling on 2021 and 2022 respectively.

The coincidence inspired him to pen 'From Old England to New England' - an exploration of the fascinating links between the two towns, through original music and performance.

Acclaimed folk musician Mr West said that while Weymouth's live music scene was put on hold during lockdown, the hiatus provided him with the perfect opportunity to research and develop material for the show.

It includes the catchy 'unofficial Weymouth anthem,' It's Such a Magical Place.

As reported, the single and accompanying video were released earlier this year, produced in collaboration with Martin Harvey, of Harvey M photography.


Explaining the inspiration behind his music, John said: "Weymouth in Massachusetts got its name from the one hundred or so migrants who sailed from Weymouth Harbour here in Dorset to find a new beginning on the East Coast of America.

“It is a fascinating story with moving tales and colourful characters - and I will be bringing them to life through words and original music to depict the human stories behind those times."

The concert makes its debut at Weymouth Pavilion in June 2022 with John set to perform in Weymouth Massachusetts later in the year.

“There are so many links and historical ties between our two towns,” he added. “The daughter of one of the pioneers who sailed from Weymouth, Elizabeth Hollard, went on to own The Salutation Inn in Boston - which was later used as a meeting place for plotters behind the Boston Tea Party.

Dorset Echo: John West and Martin Harvey won praise for their collaboration, 'It's a Magical Place'John West and Martin Harvey won praise for their collaboration, 'It's a Magical Place'

"It was a momentous event in the shared history of our two nations. Weymouth’s royal benefactor and reigning monarch of the time, King George III, was by all accounts absolutely furious with the audacity of those 'damn plotters.'"

Proceeds from the Weymouth Pavilion show will be donated in support of Weymouth’s Tudor House Museum and the Jubilee Sailing Trust, which provides seafaring experiences to disabled and under-privileged youngsters.

“I felt this charity was very appropriate as it shows how experiences at sea can help strengthen our resolve to overcome challenges in all our lives," John added.

"My challenge with the 'From Old England to New England' project has been not just to tell the historical journey that those early pioneers went through, but to bring it to life through the voices and emotions of those brave men and women of the time.

"I see my role as being an interpreter, a committed contemporary English folk musician, giving those historical actors a real presence, not just dry words on a page in a history book.

"History comes alive when we seek to explain and understand what drove those characters to live out those dramatic events in their lives. What were the conditions that they lived under? What were their hopes, their fears, and their passions?

"I believe the human story of endeavour, betterment and the striving to improve the lives of our children, is timeless."

To find out more visit www.johnwestweymouth.com