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.

The Explore

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 pi├ęce de r├ęsistance, 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!?

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41 responses to “HMS Osprey Helicopter Control Tower, Portland, Dorset”

  1. Vic Pomeroy says:

    The Control Tower was drawn by Vic Pomeroy under the supervision of Senior draughtsman, Mr Beck. Employed by The Ministry Of Public Buildings and Works.

    The Steelwork, internal stairs, fire escape and external rails were manufactured by Don Cox, Welder and Blacksmith, John Fleura.

    The Drawing Office sat where the new flats are and the MPBW workshops were situated at the bottom of incline road by the bridge that no longer remains.

  2. Sean says:

    I have just been down there tonight and can confirm that it is now a building site that’s being guarded 24/7 was a shame as wanted to have a look but seems like it’s been gutted completely now and going to be converted into something

  3. roy scrivens says:

    Ex Airy Fairy 737 Sqd. Portland, 62/64. First married home winter 62/63 happy days! Nice to see something being done at last.

  4. andy says:

    I worked in that very control tower for 5 years. My ground radio workshop is on the top floor. We maintaned all the radar, radios, airfield backup power, ops, and met office equipments
    really sad to see it so beat up. Thanks for the photos though, takes me back.

  5. Hannah says:

    Can anyone tell me whether this building is still in existence please?

  6. Amber says:

    Which way did you enter the building I am thinking of attempting this.

    • The Urban Explorer says:

      I’ve been in here a few times and each occasion I took a different route in. It’s not easy, but certainly doable. Just go and have a look, you live right next to it you say?

      • Amber says:

        Yes, I live in Atlantic House the great white and blue balcony building behind it. I have looked at attempting it several times but I see that there is a business building next door that has CCTV and I also see it has gates all around it that also say there is CCTV on site – But after scoping out the building I cannot see any CCTV cameras around. I have always been intrigued by the building and I have never been to any abandoned sites before, but am seriously considering trying to enter the building. I think I might be able to get in by the back where the trees are but then I still need to find a way into the building considering its covered it metal plating on almost every window and door.

        • The Urban Explorer says:

          “Almost” every window and door, yep. Security firms will always put up CCTV signs even when there isn’t, I suspect it’s quite effective.

          • Amber says:

            I am just purely buying my time for it to be light enough for me to do it so I think I may try this weekend. Because by the time I have got home from work it’s way to dark to attempt. What would you suggest – attempt it in daytime or just before dark?

            • Sammy J says:

              Hi Amber. Did you manage to get in? I live not far from the building also and (as an ‘abandoned’ obsessive) have always wanted to go inside. I was down there yesterday and there are workmen with ground floor access. I’m still very tempted to cheekily ask if I could look inside (before the ruined beauty of it has gone) but I’m sure H&S regs would prevent them from allowing me. Let me know if you want to join forces! Sam :)

      • Alfie says:

        Does this place have asbestos inside it?

    • Lewis says:

      Hello amber we are going to it tonight if you would like to join.

    • Jack says:

      I went there a few months ago through an open window to the back of the building on the ground floor. Also went about 4 months before through a hole on the front side in one of the sheets covering the doorways but were patched up on my second trip. Second trip found a homeless man in the top of the tower so be careful.

  7. charlie says:

    Hi there, is accessing this building legal?

    • Amber says:

      No. It’s not legal unfortunately – I live right next to it and am half tempted to go in anyway. They are turning it into posh flats this summer :/

  8. Susan says:

    Are all the places you have explored on Portland still there?
    Planning a few trips down to get my abandonment fix!


  9. Nicola Williams says:

    Lovely photos, I lived on Portland until I was aged 16 and sometimes is seems such a shame that the RN pulled out… such a lot of changes however, up Tophill last week, and good to get the same old feeling of never wanting to leave… perhaps I need to start looking to stay! Well done I always enjoy your posts :)

  10. sam says:

    Hi what is the easiest way to enter the building?

  11. Murray says:

    My Dad was a Commander in the navy based at Osprey in the early 70’s and we used to go to work with him and play in the control tower when we would watch the helicopters taking off and landing

  12. Roger Rea says:

    This looks so much different as to when I was serving here in the fleet air arm, it looks desolate now, this was a hive of activity 24 hrs a day, seven days a week and with the dockyard just down the road. Sailors everywhere. I hope it is not demolished, part of the history of the island.

  13. John. K says:

    Is it easily accessible? I’d like to shoot a short film about the place.

  14. June says:

    Hello, I wanna use this building as my final year design project, how can I get the floor plans, section plans and elevation?

    • Beth says:

      Hi June, I’d expect your best bet to getting floor plans would be attempting to contact the local county council and attempt to discover who the owner is? That’s what I was advised to do! Just have a lot of patience with county councils as they can be a bit annoying from time to time.

  15. Oscar says:

    Is this still standing?

  16. Craig says:

    Went in to the old HMS Osprey building next to the new flats this morning for my first urban explore!

    Loved it!!

    Want to check this place out next!

  17. James says:

    Have been caught many a time in going in there, the police station was right next to it!:) good photos, could go on the outside of the tower at one point too

  18. Jordan says:

    Is this still standing?

  19. Lars says:

    Hey there, I just wanted to say that I really like the bottom two photographs! :)

    I was also wondering where I could get hold of information of any good exploration sites in the Greater Manchester area?

    Thanks! ^-^

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