A MAGNIFICENT building said to be Weymouth's 'most distinguished building of the last hundred years' is remembered here. 

The much missed White Ensign Club at St Nicholas Street was closed in 1965 and demolished in the summer of 1970.

A supermarket was built on its site and then a cinema, but as you can see from the pictures, the White Ensign building was among the town's finest and is considered by many to be a sad loss.

Here's more on the origins of this beautiful Arts and Crafts building, which had a stonework exterior decorated with dolphins, anchors and decorative rope work. 

In 1866 a Sailors’ Bethel was established on Custom House Quay, but a decline in sailing ships using the port meant that it was little used.

In 1908 it was taken over by the British and Foreign Sailors Society and enlarged to provide a welcome place with recreational facilities and religious services for Royal Naval sailors and mercantile marine sailors.

It closed in 1950 and became successively a youth club, a restaurant and later the Royal Dorset Yacht Club.

When the Fleet was in Portland Harbour the town was thronged with sailors on shore leave and they were often at a loss on how to spend their time.

A larger establishment than the Sailors' Bethel was required so Sir Frederick Johnstone donated a garden in St Nicholas Street.

So the Royal Sailors Rest, designed by Crickmay, was built and opened on February 2, 1907 by Lord Tweedmouth, First Lord of the Admiralty.

The building was splendid, the exterior being decorated with stonework dolphins, anchors and decorative rope work.

It provided beds, washing facilities, billiards, reading room, dance floor, restaurant, tea and coffee.

Whilst temperance was a topical subject it was not teetotal.

It was later known as the White Ensign Club but the reduction in naval personnel meant that its use diminished in the 1960s and it was closed in 1965 and demolished in the summer of 1970.

A supermarket was built on the site, later replaced by a cinema. I watched its demolition and the contractors certainly had a difficult job.

Pevsner’s Buildings of England published around the time of its demolition noted with dismay the demolition board in the window and described it as ”detailed with much wit and resource in an Arts and Crafts way and Weymouth’s most distinguished building of the last hundred years.”

Surely a suitable alternative use could have been found for it!!!