01305 826060

The hotel is set in the old AUWE building (admiralty underwater weapons establishment)

In 1959, Portland’s Admiralty Gunnery Establishment was transferred to Ports down Hill, allowing the research at Portland to focus on anti-submarine research and underwater weapons. The formation of the Admiralty Underwater Weapons Establishment was an amalgamation of a number of Admiralty research sites, including the Underwater Countermeasures and Weapons Establishment at Havant, the Torpedo Experimental Establishment at Greenback, and the Underwater Launching Establishment at Bournemouth.

This amalgamation saw all research into underwater weapons and detection systems concentrated at Portland, with two primary sites forming the AUWE: “AUWE (North)” and “AUWE (South)”. The North site, located at Portland’s Naval Base was formerly the HM Underwater Detection Establishment. The work carried out at Portland had the highest security classification during the Cold War. In 1961, the two establishments were the center of worldwide attention, after the discovery of espionage infiltration. This became infamously known as the Portland Spy Ring, a Soviet spy ring that operated in England from the late 1950s till 1961 when the core of the network was arrested by the British security services. In 1984, the AUWE became part of the Admiralty Research Agency (ARE) and later the Defense Research Agency (DRA) in 1991. With the end of the Cold War in 1991, both Portland’s naval base and the two research establishments closed in 1995. AUWE(S) was sold and became the Southwell Business Park in 1997, while AUWE(N) was demolished around 2005.