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Since the 18th century they have been linked by successive bridges over the narrowest part of the harbour.The present Town Bridge, built in 1930, is a lifting bascule bridge allowing boats to access the inner harbour.In their early history Weymouth and Melcombe Regis were rivals for trade and industry, but the towns were united in an Act of Parliament in 1571 to form a double borough.Both towns have become known as Weymouth, despite Melcombe Regis being the main centre.Weymouth is a tourist resort, and its economy depends on its harbour and visitor attractions; the town is a gateway situated halfway along the Jurassic Coast, a World Heritage Site on the Dorset and east Devon coast, important for its geology and landforms.
In the centre of the town lies Weymouth Harbour; although it was the reason for the town's foundation, the harbour separates the two areas of Melcombe Regis (the main town centre) and Weymouth (the southern harbourside) from each other.
The A354 road bridge connects Weymouth to Portland, which together form the borough of Weymouth and Portland.
The history of the borough stretches back to the 12th century; including involvement in the spread of the Black Death, the settlement of the Americas, the development of Georgian architecture, and a major departure point for the Normandy Landings.
The architect Sir Christopher Wren was the Member of Parliament for Weymouth in 1702, and controlled nearby Portland's quarries from 1675 to 1717.
When he designed St Paul's Cathedral, Wren had it built out of Portland Stone, the famous stone of Portland's quarries.
The resort is among the first modern tourist destinations, after King George III's brother the Duke of Gloucester built a grand residence there, Gloucester Lodge, and passed the mild winter there in 1780; even venturing into the sea in a bathing machine.