HERE'S a glimpse at another pub from days gone by.

Most of you will be able to recognise the Black Dog pub in Weymouth town centre.

In one of these pictures, taken in the 1950s, it shows when you could catch a taxi from right outside the pub!

In this image we can see a taxi driver collecting a fare outside the Black Dog pub in Weymouth’s St Thomas Street.

But if you're looking for history that goes back much further, the Black Dog is probably the best the area has to offer. Reputed to be the oldest hostelry in the town, it dates back to the 1500s.


Built some time in the 16th century, probably during the reign of Elizabeth 1st, the pub was formerly known as The Dove until Weymouth won the contract to trade with the new colonies of Newfoundland and Labrador in Canada.

The landlord (at the time) of this Weymouth pub purchased the first black “Newfoundland Labrador” dog ever seen in the south west from one of the new trading ships from that region. The dog, apparently, brought such an amazing number of curious sightseers from the surrounding area that the landlord changed the name of the pub in honour of the dog that had brought so much prosperity and interest to the hostelry.

There is an early 17th century date above the left ground floor window in the Black Dog which reads 1621, but the back of the building is known to be much older. And it was in the 17th century that the first of two known murders occurred in the building.

February 1645 was a time in Weymouth’s history when grisly death was commonplace, as the English Civil War raged and Royalist sympathisers in the town plotted to overthrow the Parliamentary garrison commanded by Colonel William Sydenham and 500 people died in one bloody night during the Battle of Weymouth.

During the siege of Melcombe there was even a murder at the pub!

A “trader with flaxen hair and a yellow beard”who hailed from Taunton Dene in Somerset, was lodging at the pub. His name was William Courtney and while he was lodging at the pub, he was mercilessly slain by the landlord, John Chiles, who battered him on the head with a hammer as he slept in order to steal the £288 in gold and £12 in silver which Courtney had with him. Chiles and his wife, Margaret, then stripped the body and, in the darkness, carried it out to a nearby jetty and threw it into the sea, no doubt hoping that one more cadaver in a war zone would cause no particular suspicion. But the body was recognised and the pair arrested. Margaret Chiles soon broke under questioning and gave evidence against her husband for the murder.

In the 18th century, a smuggler became the second person murdered in the pub. Richard Hawkins was whipped to death in front of the fireplace in 1758. In the same century author Daniel Defoe was staying in the town and was inspired to write Robinson Crusoe after meeting shipwrecked mariner Alexander Selkirk in the pub.

The pub welcomed a Royal visitor in 1804, King George III - the King 'caroused' with officers of his German Legion at the hostelry - who were guarding him at the time. The Black Dog was just a short distance from the King's apartments at Gloucester Lodge.

Thank you to the Black Dog pub for sharing this history with us - and laying claim to having the richest history of all pubs in this area!

If you want to tell us more or share photos of a 'pub with a past', get in touch with us at Looking Back using the contact details below.