Marine Conservation event – donation to Institute

Marine Conservation discussion at the Electric Palace, Bridport (still from Dorset Eye film)

Marine Conservation discussion at the Electric Palace, Bridport (still from Dorset Eye film)

The LSI restoration fund has received a generous donation following the success of the 45th Bridport “Lecture on Everything” organised by Horatio and Ioana Morpurgo.  (In the nineteenth century, the Bridport Literary and Scientific Institute was the venue for numerous lectures and attracted distinguished visiting speakers, and it is the BADT’s hope that this will be one of the roles that the restored Institute will play in the future.)

The “Lecture” (“Our Sea Needs Our Say”), held at Bridport’s Electric Palace on 17 September, took the form of a discussion on controversial marine conservation issues between environmental writers Philip Hoare, George Monbiot and Professor Callum Roberts, chaired by Horatio Morpurgo.  The discussion focused on the importance and role of Protected Areas in marine conservation (Lyme Bay being the location of one such protected area established in 2008).

The event was extremely well received by a large and lively audience and resulted in a donation of £500 to the Literary and Scientific Institute restoration fund, which is gratefully acknowledged.  The discussion was filmed by Dorset Eye, and can be seen at

For more information about “Lectures on Everything” contact

Packed Town Hall for Mackintosh lecture

Dr George Rawson's lecture on Charles Rennie Mackintosh and Dorset, Bridport Town Hall, 2 July 2013

Dr George Rawson’s lecture on Charles Rennie Mackintosh and Dorset, Bridport Town Hall, 2 July 2013

On Tuesday 2 July 2013, as part of the fundraising campaign to support the restoration of the Literary and Scientific Institute, Dr George Rawson gave a stimulating lecture to a packed Bridport Town Hall on Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s drawings of Dorset.  Dr Rawson was formerly Fine Art Librarian at Glasgow School of Art, and is an authority on Mackintosh and author of the publication which accompanied the popular Fra Newbery exhibitions held across Dorset in 2008.

Charles Rennie Mackintosh

Charles Rennie Mackintosh

Mackintosh’s drawings of Dorset include architectural details of local buildings, which were used to inform the plans for the iconic Glasgow School of Art building.  The talk covered Mackintosh’s relationship with Dorset from the 1890s to the 1920s but focused mainly on his prolific sketching tour across the county in the summer of 1895.  Dr Rawson’s presentation juxtaposed images of Mackintosh’s drawings of headstones and various building details with present-day photographs, and went on to illustrate how features recorded by Mackintosh in Dorset were later incorporated into buildings in Scotland, notably the Glasgow School of Art.

Mackintosh’s distinguished career was nurtured by Fra Newbery, Director of Glasgow School of Art from 1885 to 1918, who trained and taught at the Bridport School of Art (in the Literary and Scientific Institute building), and who returned to Dorset to create the paintings and murals which decorate Bridport’s recently renovated Town Hall.

The talk was enthusiastically received by the large audience, and comments included, “It is always enjoyable listening to an expert on their subject and so it was on Tuesday evening.”

All proceeds from the event will go to support the Bridport Literary and Scientific Institute (LSI) restoration project.

Trust Hosts national Preservation Trust Association meeting

On Tuesday 26 June the Bridport Area Development Trust hosted a meeting of the South West branch of the UK Association of Preservation Trusts in Bridport Town Hall.

The UKAPT (established 1989) acts as the representative body for Building Preservation Trusts in the UK.  There are around 300 BPTs in the United Kingdom, and membership is open to charities whose principal objective is to preserve historic buildings.  The Bridport Area Development Trust is a registered charity which includes as one of its principal objectives “the preservation of buildings or sites of historic or architectural importance “

“We have found the APT a very useful organisation and a source of considerable support and encouragement since joining in 2011.  The meetings of the SW branch, which take place three times a year in different towns in the south West, provide a great opportunity to hear about the experiences and knowledge of organisations engaged in similar projects to our own.  We welcomed the opportunity to act as hosts for the recent meeting.” (Charles Wild, Chair of BADT)

The meeting was chaired by Claire Donovan, from the Poltimore House Trust near Exeter, and received presentations from The APT’s UK Director, Dr James Moir, and from Liz Clare, who gave an informative update on recent reorganisation at English Heritage.  Crystal Johnson gave an illustrated presentation about the restoration of Bridport Town Hall and the BADT’s own projects to restore the Literary and Scientific Institute, and a number of the delegates visited the two sites after the meeting.  Both projects are featured on the UK APT website among conservation projects in the South West.


Questions over St Michael’s plans after Listing


The two-storey rope walk: “a rare survival”

Buildings proposed for demolition under controversial plans for the St Michael’s Trading Estate have been Listed by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, on the advice of English Heritage.  The move raises doubts about the future of the planning applications conditionally recommended for approval by West Dorset District councillors last year.

The existing Grade II Listing for the former warehouse building at 40 St Michael’s Lane has been extended to cover the adjoining buildings at the rear, including the distinctive two-storey rope walk and the Lilliput building.  Buildings are Listed for their special architectural or historic interest, and are legally protected from demolition without specific consent.

Councillors on West Dorset District Council’s Development Control (Planning) Committee went against the advice of their specialist officers in June 2012 when they voted to support an Outline application for redevelopment of the trading estate and an application for Conservation Area consent to demolish a number of buildings on the estate, including some of those now Listed.

The consents have not yet been issued by council officers, pending negotiations over a series of conditions.  The Listing of the Lilliput and neighbouring buildings may mean that the applicants (Estate landowners Hayward & Co.) will be required to submit new applications.

The West Dorset District Local Plan states (Policy SA18) that “Development requiring the total or substantial demolition of a building listed as being of special architectural or historic importance will not be permitted apart from in very exceptional circumstances and, in any case, not unless genuine attempts have been made without success to continue the present use or to find a suitable alternative use for the building.”

The application to List the buildings was submitted to English Heritage in late 2012, together with applications to List the Bridport Industries Building, the Stover Works Building, the Red Brick Café, and the covered rope walk at the north western end of the Estate.  These other buildings have not been selected for Listing, following a thorough assessment by English Heritage specialists, who acknowledged their local importance historically, but considered them to be of less than national or regional significance.

The buildings adjoining 40 St Michael’s Lane have been Listed as “an important survival associated with a highly-significant phase in the development of Bridport’s net and cordage industry”, and on the grounds that “the buildings define the very essence of the net and cordage industry that developed in Bridport and show interesting incremental changes relating to production”, while “the two-storey covered walk is an especially rare survival”.

The full Listing entry can be seen at

The Bridport Area Development Trust has welcomed the Listing, and although disappointed that the other buildings have not been selected, recognises that these already have significant protection, being designated as locally important within the Bridport Conservation Area.

The BADT was one of many objectors to Haywards’ planning applications in 2012.  The trustees have indicated a willingness to work in partnership with the landowners and others on an alternative approach to the restoration, regeneration and development of the St Michael’s Estate – an approach which they argue “would promote longer term regeneration and investment opportunities as opposed to the short term residential approach currently being pursued.  The character, layout and buildings on St Michael’s Trading Estate, recognised as nationally significant in the history of the local industry, are an important part of this heritage which the BADT believes would be crucially diminished by the existing plans.”

The BADT understands that the landowners and West Dorset District Council are considering the implications of the Listing decision.

West Bay Chapel features in “Broadchurch”

The Chapel "dressed" for Broadchurch filming, October 2012

The former Methodist Church in West Bay (the “Chapel on the Beach”), which the Bridport Area Development Trust aims to convert into a visitor/interpretation centre, is featured in the ITV hit crime thriller “Broadchurch”, penned by local writer Chris Chibnall.  Much of the action was filmed in and around West Bay, with spectacular shots of the coastline.

In episodes 4 and 5 of the TV serial, the Chapel appears as the home of the Broadchurch Sea Brigade and is the backdrop for an altercation between newsagent Jack Marshall (played by actor David Bradley) and an angry local mob who suspect him of the murder of the schoolboy Danny Latimer, shortly before Jack’s own body is found at the foot of the cliffs.

BADT Treasurer Vince O’Farrell took photographs of the filming in the autumn of 2012.

As previously reported, the BADT is hoping to open the Chapel as a Visitor Centre in 2014, with a trial opening later this summer.

Crystal Johnson appointed as Institute project coordinator

Arts and Heritage Consultant Crystal Johnson has been appointed as Project Co-ordinator for the next phase of the plans to restore the Bridport Literary and Scientific Institute (LSI).

Charles Wild, Chairman of the Bridport Area Development Trust, which initiated and is leading the restoration project, said, “We are delighted to announce this appointment.  Crystal has already made a huge contribution to the progress of the LSI project, including submission of our successful Round One application to the Heritage Lottery Fund.  We can now move forward with considerable confidence towards submission of a final application to the HLF early in 2014.”

The development phase of the project over the next year, which Crystal will be coordinating, will involve commissioning more detailed architectural and cost plans, a business plan and an activity plan, to support the Heritage Lottery application.  The development phase work is being jointly funded by the HLF, the Architectural Heritage Fund, English Heritage, West Dorset District Council, Bridport Town Council and a number of private donations.

For further information about the project and how to get involved, contact Crystal on 07968-577867 or

Hopes for Chapel Centre to open in 2013

Filming "Broadchurch" at the West Bay chapel, October 2012

The BADT has appointed Arts and Heritage consultant Crystal Johnson to carry out a feasibility study on its plans to convert the former Methodist Church in West Bay into a Visitor/Interpretation Centre.  The study will be completed in early 2013, and has been commissioned with financial support from the Architectural Heritage Fund, the Dorset Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and West Dorset District Council.  The Trust is aiming for a partial opening of the new Centre in the summer of 2013, to enable consultation with and input from residents and visitors to West Bay, and the full opening in April 2014.

In the meantime the Chapel has recently been used as a backdrop for scenes in forthcoming ITV crime drama series, “Broadchurch”, written by Chris Chibnall, and starring David Tennant and Olivia Colman, by Kudos Productions, makers of “Spooks”, “Life on Mars”, “Ashes to Ashes” and “The Hour”.

High Court orders adjournment to allow Trust to complete Institute plans

Only days after receiving the news of the HLF grant award (see previous post) for their plans for the Literary and Scientific Institute, Bridport Area Development Trustees were back in the High Court in London to support the case for a further adjournment of a decision on the fate of the building in East Street, which has been empty since it closed as the town’s public library in 1997.

In 2010 Dorset County Council sought guidance from the Court as to its responsibilities and powers to dispose of the building, which had been the subject of a long-running legal case over the trusteeship of the building.  At that time the Bridport Area Development Trust was allowed eighteen months in which to develop its plans to restore the building and bring it back into community use.

Early in 2012, noting the significant progress made by the Trust, Dorset County Council agreed to an extension of the eighteen month adjournment to a hearing on 3 December, by which time the outcome of the Trust’s Stage One Heritage Lottery application would be known.

At the 3 December High Court hearing, in the light of the success of the HLF application and match-funding commitments of nearly £1m, the Council’s legal representatives recommended a further extension to enable the Trust to complete its development work and submit a Stage Two and final application to the HLF for the capital costs of restoration.  BADT trustees Charles Wild and Diane May, and Crystal Johnson, co-ordinator of the successful Lottery application, were present to answer questions from the Court.  The presiding officer, Master Nicolas Bragge, complimented the Trust on its progress, agreeing with the Council’s argument that the Trust’s proposals represented the best hope for the building, and ordered an adjournment until October 2014.

Heritage Lottery initial approval for Institute Plans

The BADT’s application for capital funding towards the restoration of the Literary and Scientific Institute has been awarded a Round One pass by the Heritage Lottery Fund, paving the way for a full application in 2014 on completion of further development work.  In addition the Trust has been awarded a grant of £80,900 which will enable completion of the development phase work.

Charles Wild, Chair of the Bridport Area Development Trust, said, “We are delighted that the Heritage Lottery Fund has supported our proposals. The restoration of the Institute will safeguard the future of one of the town’s most important historic and cultural landmarks and will provide attractive and well-serviced facilities for a range of community and educational activities, in line with the objectives of the Institute’s founders.”

Richard Bellamy, Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund South West, said, “We at HLF are pleased to be giving our initial support for exciting plans to restore Bridport Literary and Scientific Institute. The project, if successful at second round, will totally rejuvenate this much-loved and historic building, bringing it back to the heart of the community for everyone to use and enjoy. Volunteers form the backbone of this project and have been the driving force behind its success so far and we are looking forward to working with them and seeing plans progress over the coming months.”

Full story:in press release.

The BADT’s application to the Heritage Lottery was backed with significant match-funding commitments from Dorset County Council, West Dorset District Council, Bridport Town Council, the Challenge Fund, the Architectural Heritage Fund, and the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation, and was accompanied by specialist reports commissioned with the help of funding from English Heritage and private donations.

Funding Boost for Institute

The Bridport Area Development Trust has received a further boost for its plans to restore the Literary and Scientific Institute, with confirmation of the offer from West Dorset District Council, reported in the local press some weeks ago, of £100,000 match funding towards the Trust’s application to the Heritage Lottery Fund.

The Institute has been on the national At Risk register since 2003.  As the Local Planning Authority, WDDC is keen to see the building restored and brought back into use so that its future is safeguarded.

Reporting the decision of the district council’s Executive Committee on 19 June 2012 in a letter to BADT Chair Charles Wild, WDDC Director of Environment David Evans said, “Members were most impressed with the progress that the Trust has made in developing a imaginative scheme for this important Grade II* Listed Building which is on the National At Risk list of English Heritage.  The proposals to restore this Listed building and convert it into a community asset were warmly welcomed and they were particularly pleased to see the level of community support for the project.  They wish you every success with your bid to the Heritage Lottery.”

The BADT’s application to the Heritage Lottery Fund was submitted on 30 August 2012, and the Trust will learn the outcome of its bid by the end of November.