These postcards taken from one of Dorset's best vantage points show the changing face of Portland.

The collection, belonging to Ed Harland, features postcards dating from the early 1900s up to the present day.

They are all taken from the same position, from the top of Portland looking out over Chiswell and Chesil Beach, giving a clear view of how the place has changed over the last 100 years.

The Portland postcard collection forms just one part of it with images of the remaining 18 miles of beach making up the rest.

Dorset Echo:

Postcard postmarked April 1904. The area around the Mere is completely undeveloped.

Ed, speaking to the Echo in 2007, said: "I've been collecting postcards over the last 10 years from various markets such as Bridport, Dorchester and occasionally Weymouth.

"I thought it would be interesting to put them on to a website as a pictorial timeline so people can see how that end of Chesil Beach has changed over the last 100 years.

"They show the development of the sea defences, the days when the sewers pumped directly into the sea, the Portland railway and the coming and going of gasholders.

Dorset Echo:

A postcard dated 1920 "but the picture appears to be much earlier than that", said Ed. "The first two oil tanks can be seen on the right of the picture, but the tanks on The Mere have not yet appeared."

"There were so many images made of this area because this is the standard tourist view, the spectacle of Chesil Beach heading out to the west.

"I know that people are always up there admiring the view - it must be the most photographed view in South Dorset."

Dorset Echo:

Postcard postmarked August 1908. A new building has appeared in the fields in the bottom left of the picture and still has scaffolding on it. 
The pier at the Whitehead torpedo works at the bottom of Wyke Regis has appeared. There has been some work along the shoreline of the Mere.

Although not all of the postcards were dated, Ed has attempted to put a time to them by the changing landscape and infrastructure.

He was helped by the fact that all of the images are of the same view so comparisons can be easily made.

"I have attempted to date the cards as best I can, but I would welcome more information if anyone has it.

"I found that there were a number of key features that should be dateable.

"Underhill School can be seen in most of the views and in one card two small buildings have appeared in the school yard which I assume are air raid shelters.

Dorset Echo:

Postmarked July 1911. The work on the Mere is now more extensive than in earlier years.

"In the early cards the oil tanks out on the Mere appear so if anyone knows when these were built we can specify the period.

"A selection of buildings on the start of the Weares below Underhill School come and go through the sequence.

"I believe one was a small café, but I would like to know what the other buildings were.

"A Nissen hut appeared for a while after the Second World War and I would like to know what that was used for."

Dorset Echo:

The card was not postmarked but is believed to be from around 1948. A new building has appeared near the oil tanks and the large ditches to the east of the tanks are also apparent. A new pier has appeared going out into Portland Harbour. Two large units are moored in the harbour which may be part of the Mulberry harbour used on D-Day. The Methodist chapel in Chiswell  has been converted to a workshop with a large door.

Ed said that the images do not just provide a dialogue as to how the physical nature of the beauty spot has changed, but also an insight into the social history.

Dorset Echo:

This card can be dated to 1931-1935 by the hulk of the Madeleine Tristran, a schooner wrecked on Chesil Beach in September 1930, in the bottom left-hand corner of the picture.

In one from between 1931 and 1935 the remains of the Madeleine Tristan, a schooner wrecked in September 1930, lies forlornly on the beach.

It evokes thoughts of 'wreckers', those who would salvage whatever they could from what the ship was carrying.

The wreck was there for five years before it was removed, hence the lack of a definite date.

Dorset Echo:

Not postmarked, but may have been taken during the late 1980s. The seawall in Chiswell has been extended southwards and the air station has been expanded with new hangars by the oil tanks and the golf ball approach radar. There is a Wessex helicopter by the golf ball radar. The south entrance to the Beach Road car park has been closed and the car park divided. All traces of the railway have gone.

"There is a lot to be learnt from the postcards in terms of social history," said Ed.

"Around the 1930s Portland Council had a policy of demolishing the old houses in Chiswell and this can be seen in the images as a number of them have been removed. You can also see the demolition of the sea wall.

Dorset Echo:

This card is not postmarked, but the print number suggests it may have been taken in 1950. Note the very prominent slick from the sewer outlet. The pump building at the southern end of the oil tanks has appeared and remained until the tanks were demolished. A second gasholder has appeared.

"When the sequence starts the railway was still operating and the island's major industry was still stone and quarrying, but with the arrival of the navy the demand for stone fell and that's reflected in the pictures.

"It is amazing to see how much the place has changed."

To have a look at the website, see