Dunkirk filming locations

Christopher Nolan’s epic film Dunkirk, was released on the 21st of July 2017 to wide critical acclaim. The film recounts the events of Operation Dynamo and the involvement of civilians in the mass evacuation of 400,000 allied troops stranded on the beaches of Dunkirk in the early part of the Second World War.

Nolan has filmed the narrative as a triptych - shooting accounts from air, land and sea respectively – to recall the events from the various perspectives of those involved in the evacuation. 

The film has an all star cast, including Fionn Whitehead, Tom Hardy, Cillian Murphy, Kenneth Branagh, Mark Rylance, and James D’Arcy (who can almost be considered a Dorset local following his appearances in series two of Broadchurch).

Whilst pre-release hype centred on the film debut of Harry Styles - who caused much excitement amongst fans when he was spotted on set at Weymouth and Swanage – critics have hailed both the film and performances delivered by the cast a success.

Weymouth Scenes

Thanks to the team at Weymouth Harbour for sharing the following images taken during the Dunkirk filming. 

Filming of the 2017 Dunkirk movie at Weymouth in DorsetPhoto - Christopher Nolan and the crew on set at Custom House Quay in Weymouth.

The Weymouth scenes start with the civilian fleet departing to aid the evacuation; with Mark Rylance’s character seen casting off “Moonstone” from Custom House Quay, loaded with lifejackets to aid the stranded troops. This image is very close to the shot used in the scene: 

2017 Dunkirk film set at Weymouth Harbour in DorsetEagle eyed observers may notice that there’s something slightly out of place in this scene? Although the Pavilion has been a prominent attraction in Weymouth since opening in 1908, the building seen here was actually rebuilt after the war in the 1950’s.

2017 Dunkirk film set at Weymouth Harbour in Dorset

As the Moonstone casts off, the scene pans across the harbour showing off Weymouth's colourful Georgian architecture.

2017 Dunkirk film set troops at Weymouth Harbour in Dorset

Close to the end of the film, Moonstone returns to the harbour and the evacuees depart, in a state of exhaustion and disbelief.

2017 Dunkirk film set at Weymouth Harbour in Dorset

We also see a shot of the Weymouth Harbourmaster’s office, which is used to depict the Weymouth Herald newspaper office in the film.

If you are visiting Weymouth, we are sure you’ll want to explore the picturesque Old Harbour, as well as enjoying the wonderful golden sandy beach and many other seaside treats the town has to offer. For the best views across the harbour and across the magnificent Jurassic Coast, be sure to book a flight on the Jurassic Skyline.

And if you're lucky enough to be able to visit Weymouth by boat, please visit the Weymouth Harbour website for information on berthing and boat moorings.

Swanage Scenes   

Following the return of the Moonstone fishing boat to Weymouth harbour, the characters played by Fionn Whitehead and Harry Styles board a train that is bound for London. They board under the cover of darkness and arrive the following day, somewhat confused by the warm welcome they receive from the waiting crowd.

These scenes feature Swanage Railway Station and trains from the Swanage Railway.

Follow in Harry Styles’ footsteps and take a step back in time to enjoy a journey on the Swanage Railway next time you visit Dorset. Steam trains run between Norden, Corfe Castle and Swanage, and during spring and summer 2023, the train service has been extended to offer a diesel locomotive service through to Wareham for the first time in over 45 years.

Swanage Railway guard standing on the platform at Corfe Castle Station, Dorset

The Jurassic Coast

The Visit Dorset team were pleasantly surprised to see a panorama shot of Dorset’s Jurassic Coast as the Moonstone returned home. In the scene, the young evacuees appear from below deck asking to see the view of “home” and are greeted with the white chalk cliffs at Studland. “Is that Dover?” they ask, to which Tom Glynn-Carney replies: “No, that's Dorset. But it's home”.

Military History in Dorset

Many readers will be aware that although Weymouth and neighbouring Portland have a rich military heritage, the civilian fleet depicted in Dunkirk actually set sail from the port of Dover during the actual events of Operation Dynamo.

For readers with a keen interest in military history, Dorset offers many fascinating places to visit. If you're heading to Weymouth, stop in at Nothe Fort for a tour of this wonderfully preserved Victorian fort, where you can also enjoy special events and a bite to eat at their Fort View cafe.

The Portland Museum offers a diverse selction of hisotry relating to the local area, including  maritime and military historical artefacts and information.

The huge Fleet Air Arm Museum at Yeovilton, has the largest collection of Naval aircraft anywhere in Europe, together with a replica flight deck of the HMS Ark Royal aircraft carrier.

Another massively popular attraction is the Tank Museum at Bovington, which hosts nearly 300 armoured vehicles across 8 large displays and holds regular "tanks in action" displays.

An interesting reminder of the sacrifice people made for the war effort can be found at Tyneham villge, which was evacuated by the Ministry of Defense for training purposes during WW2 and has remained deserted ever since.

The Keep Military Museum in Dorchester has 4 floors of exhibitions spanning 300 years of history within it's castle-like building. The museum is fully accessible and affords wonderful views across the county town and surrounding countryside.

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Boat trips to beach huts. Heritage attractions, nature reserves and the Jurassic Coast.


Weymouth boasts a beautiful beach, shallow waters and pretty harbour

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