Open every day | 10:00 - 4:30 (last entry 3:30pm)
Castletown D-Day Centre
Admiralty Buildings, Castletown,
Portland, Dorset, UK, DT5 1BD
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Our Story

APRIL 2016

Work on the D-Day Centre Begins

Work begins to develop the site beside Agincare House into a D-Day museum. This Old Naval Bakehouse was the first development for The Castletown Regeneration Project in 2014, which saw nationwide healthcare provider, Agincare, establish a head office in 2014. Both Agincare and the D-Day Centre are founded and owned by local businessman, Derek Luckhurst.

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MAY 2016

MAY 2016

First Acquisition for the Museum

The first acquisition for the new museum was a large quantity of ammunition boxes and fuel cans used on the set of the 2014 movie, Fury, starring Brad Pitt and shot locally in Dorset. These joined Derek's collection of military vehicles and artefacts already awaiting their place in the new museum.

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JULY 2016

Phase 2 of the Development

With the building work now completed, focus turned to decorating the museum and creating an authentic wartime dockyard within the main floor, replicating a Navy ship being loaded with supplies and equipment in preparation for D-Day. This scene paid tribute to the role that Castletown Pier had played 72 years and one month earlier.

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SEPTEMBER 2016

SEPTEMBER 2016

US Flag Loaned to the Museum

In September 2016, prior to the opening of the museum, the 1st Infantry Division UK Reenactment Group loaned this original wartime US flag to the museum. It was presented to Derek and volunteers by the 1st Infantry Division, 16th Infantry Regiment Association. This month also saw the salvage of the Jolly Sailor pub sign from across the road. The pub had fallen into disrepair, having been used by servicemen and members of the local population prior to the departure of the Navy in the 1990s. The sign now hangs in the museum.

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SEPTEMBER 2016

M45 Quadmount Acquired From France

Volunteers make trip to Vrigne-aux-Bois, France to collect an original M45 Quadmount. This towed anti-aircraft gun, consisting of four .50 caliber M2 Browning machine guns mounted in pairs on either side of an armoured open-top gunner compartment marks a significant acquisition for the museum.

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OCTOBER 2016

OCTOBER 2016

Doors Opened to Volunteers

On 9th October 2016, the D-Day Centre is opened up to a new team of volunteers and military reenactors for a tour of the progress. Though work is yet to be completed on the museum, the initial look is met with great enthusiasm from all attendees.

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NOVEMBER 2016

Sherman Tank Arrives

November marks a busy month for the museum. On the 11th November, Caroline Milverton, daughter of Captain Harold (Harry) of the 1st Medical Battalion, 1st Infantry Division, presents an original patch from her father's uniform to the museum.

Later than month, an authentic, battle-scarred Sherman tank, retrieved from France and restored by Military Classic Vehicles is craned into position outside, marking the entrance to the D-Day Centre.

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january 2017

january 2017

Air Support Arrives

On the 10th January, a replica spitfire is delivered by lorry to the museum. Due to the size, this iconic plane is reconstructed and painted on the museum floor before being lifted into position, suspended from the museum ceiling. Air support has officially arrived.

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MARCH 2017

Official Opening of the D-Day Centre

The new Castletown D-Day Centre is ready to welcome visitors. At it's opening ceremony, volunteers and visitors are welcomed with BBC spotlight filming the official opening.

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MAY 2017

MAY 2017

Welcoming the Disney Cruise Ship

Located just a short walk from Portland Port, D-Day Centre volunteers welcome American visitors aboard the Disney Cruise Ship to Portland. This would mark a long tradition of our volunteers welcoming passengers and inviting them to discover the history of Castletown.

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JUNE 2017

Bofor 40mm Gun Arrives

The arrival of a Bofor 40mm anti-aircraft gun used on the set of Captain America marks a significant acquisition for the museum. It immediately becomes a fan favourite with visitors encouraged to operate the weapon, which has been restored and fitted with motorised parts and sound effects to mimic firing.

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DECEMBER 2017

DECEMBER 2017

A Christmas Event

The D-Day Centre organises it's first ever event. The Christmas Weekend features live music, historic displays, reenactments and food and drink. Many of the exhibits are decorated with 1940s themed Christmas decorations and visitors are invited to experience a host of wartime festivities.

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APRIL 2018

Castletown At War

14th and 15th April 2018 mark the first ever Castletown at War, an event organised in partnership with Portland Castle, located just down the road from the museum. This event commemorates the setting up of a US Army field hospital in Castletown as part of the preparations for the Normandy Landings and features large scale reenactments across both sites as well as stalls, live entertainment and activities.

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JUNE 2018

JUNE 2018

Six Caisson's Statues

Museum founder, Derek Luckhurst, commissions six wartime figures to be positioned on the Phoenix caissons at Castletown's Mulberry Habrours. This marked the 74th anniversary of D-Day and comprises of two US GIs to commemorate the hundreds of thousands who came to Portland ahead of D-Day, two Portland dockyard 'mateys' and two British naval figures, an officer and a ranking.

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November 2018

New Extension Completed

A new extension to the museum is completed. It contains an authentic recreation of a WW2 German bunker and genuine Nazi artefacts and a 1940s tearoom. The extension is modelled on the upper deck of a ship, continuing the theme that begins inside the museum.

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SEPTEMBER 2019

SEPTEMBER 2019

The Centre Acquires a DUKW

On 18th September, Castletown D-Day Centre welcomes the arrival of a DUKW; a six-wheel drive amphiobious modification of the 2 and a half ton CCKW trucks used by the U.S. military during WW2. This large vehicle had been used as a tour boat and would undergo restoration back to a military vehicle in the months following its acquisition.

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MAY 2021

Museum Reopens Following the Pandemic

On 22nd May 2021, Castletown D-Day Centre is reopened by Portland Mayor, Sandy West following the Covid-19 pandemic which forced the closure of all non-essential businesses nationwide. The opening ceremony is met with great enthusiasm with volunteers and visitors glad to be welcomed back following a challenging couple of years.

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OCTOBER 2022

OCTOBER 2022

Welcoming Albert Fenton

On 16th October 2022, Castletown D-Day Centre played host to 97 year old D-day veteran, Albert Fenton at our 1940s weekend. Fenton served with the sorps responsible for supplying food, water, fuel, and military equipment to soldiers at Juno Beach on D-Day. Recounting his experiences he said:

"We arrived at Juno Beach and had to stay on board until a road was laid for us as the sand had all been blown up. All the while waiting we could hear battleships firing - the noise was so loud it almost burst our eardrums. I am sure I was not the only one who was petrified at what we were about to walk into. We stayed in Courseulles-sur-Mer for about five weeks taking petrol and supplies to the frontline mainly from the Mulberry Harbour which was in operation after about 10 days."

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AUGUST 2023

M16 Half-Track Named After Local Legend

A special ceremony is held for local legend, Poppy Butcher, in recognition of the incredible work she has done for local charities, including 20 years organising Weymouth Veteran's Parade. As part of the ceremony, our half-track was named Poppy. The naming of trucks was a common tradition for U.S. troops throughout the war, and we couldn't think of a more fitting tribute to a local hero.

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OCTOBER 2023

OCTOBER 2023

Letter from the U.S. Embassy

Following a request for the approval of wearing authentic U.S. military unforms, Castletown D-Day Centre receives a reply from the U.S. Embassy expressing their appreication of the museum and official confirmation that all uniforms are correct and that wearing them is deemed a mark of respect to those who served. With many of our volunteers being ex-servicement, uniforms are worn in accordance with their rank at the point of retirement.

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MAY 2024

BBC South Today Visit the Centre

Briony Leyland visits the D-Day Centre for an interview with museum founder, Derek Luckhurst, about the role Portland played on D-day. The interview was made in preparation for broadcasting on the 6th June as part of the 80th Anniversary of D-Day commemorations.

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Learn
History of Castletown D-Day Centre

Castletown D-Day Centre opened in 2017 to mark the important role that Portland played in the preparations for D-Day. Founded by local businessman, Derek Luckhurst, the museum is an authentic recreation of the wartime dockyard that once occupied the site and from which thousands of U.S. troops embarked for the beaches of Normandy in June 1944. Part of The Castletown Regeneration Project, the museum was just one part of Derek's investment in the area, following the withdrawal of the Navy in the 1990s.

Above are some of the highlights from over the years, including key visits and acquisitions. Our museum continues to grow and holds a range of events throughout the year, giving everyone the opportunity to experience, and get hands on, with this important part of our history.

Openings Calendar

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