HMS Osprey Helicopter Control Tower, Portland, Dorset
A cold, December afternoon on Portland with an urge to explore (often how these things get done!) saw us checking out access to an old site we’d explored before but never took any photos. The Helicopter Control Tower on the former HMS Osprey Naval Base.
Oddly, the Helicopter Control Tower is the only building still in situ from the Naval base. I can only assume it’s listed, or been earmarked for development. There were plans to turn it in to a hotel, and recent metal hoarding, HERAS fencing and the stripped out nature of the inside suggest it could well be imminent.
Access to the building looked almost impossible, and given the option to go inside again, I think I’d rather sit in a bath of cold baked beans and be repeatedly poked with a sharp stick. Needless to say, I’m not good with heights and it was not enjoyable.
However, once inside, even though the entire building has been mostly stripped, including all the flooring, it was somehow a better experience than when we previously explored the Control Tower in 2008 in it’s vandalised state. There was an air of natural dereliction taking place – which is nice.
Unfortunately, it soon became apparent that the features in the Helicopter Control Tower which made it such an interesting explore were removed altogether or vandalised even further. On the ground level of the main tower stairs once stood a fantastic, wooden telephone box with glass panels. Every pane is now smashed, the phone box filled with rubble and random junk – so much so the door can hardly be opened. Such a shame.
On the first floor, an electronic, three-dimensional map on the wall, once with light-up displays etc. has been battered and the piéce de résistance, the Helicopter Control Tower itself, once with panels of landing equipment, buttons & switches and stunning views across the harbour is now really disappointing. The tower look-out has metal hoarding on the outside, obscuring any view and the work-stations destroyed beyond recognition. I do wonder what kind of satisfaction people get out of vandalising such places?! And how are they not caught making such a noise!?