MSO7927 - 19th Century dock at Porlock Weir (Monument)


A dock at Porlock Weir, formed in c.1855 by building a stone quay and lock with a gate across the southern end of a natural channel.

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Type and Period (2)

Protected Status

Full Description

The present dock at Porlock Weir was under construction in 1855 by Colonel Blathwayt. This was created when it was thought that there were valuable minerals on Exmoor; a railway was proposed to run from Simonsbath to Porlock Weir. Nothing really came of the mines and railway (MSO7906) which would have altered the small dock considerably. A very comprehensive schedule of dues for goods, imported and exported, was drawn up - so detailed that it seems likely to have been copied from another existing port. The harbour consists of a small basin enclosed by pebble banks on one side and the land on the other with a single lock gate at the south end. The gates are rarely used now as trade is very small. [1] SS 8639 4796 A dock at Porlock Weir (named 'Porlock Quay' on an estate map of 1809-12 [2]). Worthy Stream, which now flows into the sea about 500 metres to the northwest of Porlock Weir, was thought originally to have flowed into Porlock Weir Harbour [3]. Shown on a map [4] of c. 1710 the dock is annotated "The Basin or Weir Dock" and appears to have a stream flowing into it from its western end. The first harbour at Porlock Weir may have been built by the 15th Century as accounts of 1422/23 are quoted for "the repair of the Weir at West Porlock" [3]. Porlock Weir was a fishing harbour until the 19th Century when the entrance was improved to take cargo vessels of 12 foot draught [5]. Lock gates were added so they could be unloaded at any state of the tide. The quay and lock are shown on the 1841 Tithe Map [5]. At one time quite sizable vessels, up to 100 tons, came into Porlock Weir [3] and there was a flourishing trade with South Wales, bringing in coal, limestone and cement and exporting agricultural produce, tan bark, charcoal and pit props [5]. The dock was formed by building a stone quay and lock with a single gate across the southern end of a natural channel (the old course of the Worthy Stream?) between the bottom of the coastal slopes and the western end of the massive shingle bank which skirts Porlock Bay. The present lock gates (of timber and iron) replaced the previous pair in about 1913 [3]. When the lock gates are closed a pool of water some 350 metres long by 70 metres at its widest (about 1.5 hectares) is formed. There was a footbridge at SS 8636 4803, but this has now gone; though it is possible to walk across the mud covered shingle bottom of the dock when the lock gates are open at low tide. There is also a footbridge across the top of the lock gates for access to the quay. The harbour used to be sluiced through a tunnel (no longer used), the sluice being controlled from a stone building on the quay [3]. Now, at low tide, the lock gates can be used as sluices to let water scour the entrance channel [4]. The harbour is now used largely for pleasure craft. [7] An archive volume is held in the Historic England Archive. [10] This record was enhanced as part of the National Record of the Historic Environment to Exmoor National Park Historic Environment Record data transfer project. [11]

Sources/Archives (11)

  • --- Archive: Hesketh-Roberth, M.. 1996. Volume: Porlock Harbour, Porlock, West Somerset.
  • <1> Monograph: Orwin, C.S. + Sellick, R.J.. 1970. The Reclamation of Exmoor Forest. David and Charles Limited. 2nd Edition. P. 183.
  • <2> Survey: Law, A., Bradley, and Summers. 1809. Copy of a survey and valuation of part of the manor of Holnicote, the manors of Bossington Wilmersham, West Luckham, Stock Pero, East Luckham and Blackford also the barton of East Lockham and Eastcotts and Goodwins Lands. Unknown.
  • <3> Monograph: Corner, Dennis. 1992. Porlock in Those Days. Exmoor Books. p52-61.
  • <4> Map: Row, W.. 1710. Map of Porlock Bay.
  • <5> Verbal communication: Various. Various. Oral Information. Exmoor National Park Notice Board, Porlock Weir.
  • <6> Map: Cox, J. W.C.. 1841. Porlock Tithe Map and Apportionment. 13.3 inches : 1 mile.
  • <7> Unpublished document: Sainsbury, I.S.S. Field Investigators Comments. RCHME Field Investigation, 24 November 1994.
  • <8> Map: Ordnance Survey. 1972. 25 Inch Map. 1:2500.
  • <9> Report: Fisher, J.. 2004. Porlock Weir: Conservation Area Character Appraisal. p7.
  • <11> Digital archive: Historic England. Various. National Record of the Historic Environment (NRHE) entry. 881107, Extant 8 February 2022.



Grid reference Centred SS 8636 4800 (154m by 181m) MasterMap
Map sheet SS84NE

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (1)

Related Events/Activities (3)

External Links (1)

Other Statuses/References

  • Coastal Risk 2014: Flood Zone 2 tidal
  • Coastal Risk 2014: Flood Zone 3 fluvial & tidal
  • Coastal Risk 2016: Flood Zone 2 fluvial and tidal
  • Coastal Risk 2016: Flood Zone 2 tidal
  • Coastal Risk 2016: Flood Zone 3 fluvial and tidal
  • Coastal Risk 2016: Flood Zone 3 tidal
  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MSO11529
  • National Monuments Record reference: SS 84 NE28
  • National Park: Exmoor National Park
  • NBR Index Number: 76703
  • NRHE HOB UID (Pastscape): 881107
  • Shoreline Management Plan 2 (0-20)
  • Shoreline Management Plan 2 (20-50)
  • Shoreline Management Plan 2 (50-100)
  • Somerset SMR PRN (Somerset): 33924

Record last edited

Feb 8 2022 12:07PM


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