Bridport Area Development Trust which now owns the West Bay Methodist Church (“The Chapel on the Beach”) is developing plans to convert it into a Visitor Centre providing information about the history and environment of West Bay and the surrounding area. The Trust has recently submitted a Listed Building application WD/D/15/001833 to West Dorset District Council for permission to proceed with the necessary conservation works to this historic Grade II Listed building.
Last year, the Trust opened the Methodist Church during August and September when a number of display boards, and exhibits loaned by Bridport Museum, explored a number of topics relating to West Bay and the Church building itself. The Church had over 1600 visitors during this summer period who provided some very positive and useful comments.
The Trust has now developed a questionnaire to consult Bridport area residents and visitors on what they would find attractive in the converted Church, and launched this questionnaire at the Melplash Show.
The Trust will also be holding a public consultation session at the Salt House, West Bay during Architectural Heritage Week. This session will run from 2.00pm to 7.00pm on Wednesday 9 September 2015. Please come along on the day to look at the Trust’s plans for the Church, let us have your views and feedback via the questionnaire, and see how you may be able to help.
Your views are very important to the success of this project.
The questionnaire can also be completed online here.
We are delighted and excited to announce that Alexander McCall Smith and Dr Lewis Dartnell are coming to Bridport this Autumn thanks to two events organised by Bridport Literary Festival, which will support the fundraising efforts for the restoration of the Literary and Scientific Institute.
Both events will be held at The Electric Palace. Tickets for the Alexander McCall Smith talk are now on sale at Bridport Tourist Information Centre: £12 in advance, £15 on the door. Tickets for the Dr Dartnell event (£12) will be on sale from 11 September.
Bridport TIC, Bucky Doo Square, South Street, Bridport. Tel: 01308 424901. Open: Monday – Saturday 9.00am – 5.00pm.
Tanya Bruce-Lockhart, Festival Director said “With such high profile speakers, we expect both of these events to be very popular so strongly urge people to get their tickets as soon as possible.”
Crystal Johnson, Activities Coordinator for the LSI restoration project said, “We are hugely grateful for the support of Bridport Literary Festival and the amount of time that Tanya has put into organising these events. The restoration of the Literary and Scientific Institute is a major project for Bridport and we hope that work will begin on site early next year. We have very nearly raised the £2.6m required to fund the project, and with just £140k left to find we greatly appreciate the support of the Literary Festival in helping us reach that target.”
Alexander McCall Smith – talk at 11.00am on 6 October 2015, Electric Palace, Bridport
Alexander McCall Smith is one of the world’s most prolific and most popular authors. His career has been a varied one: for many years he was a professor of Medical Law and worked in universities in the United Kingdom and abroad.
Then, after the publication of his highly successful No 1 Ladies Detective Agency series, which has sold over twenty million copies, he devoted his time to the writing of fiction and has seen his various series of books translated into over forty languages and become bestsellers through the world.
Dr Lewis Dartnell – talk at 2.30pm on 14 November 2015, Electric Palace, Bridport
Dr. Lewis Dartnell is a research scientist at University of Leicester, currently holding fellowships for both research and science popularisation. After a first class degree in biology at the University of Oxford he completed a PhD in the field of astrobiology and the search for life beyond Earth.
Alongside his research, Lewis writes regularly about science and technology for New Scientist, BBC Focus, Cosmos, and national newspapers, has a monthly column in BBC Sky at Night magazine and has won several awards for his science writing.
The Bridport Area Development Trust today issued a press release containing the following text:
More than 17 years after the Library moved out of the building, Bridport Literary and Scientific Institute (LSI) is being given a new lease of life thanks to a project developed by local charity, Bridport Area Development Trust (BADT). Earlier this month BADT, together with Dorset County Council and Sir John Elphinstone, whose great grandfather originally gave the building to the town, went to the High Court where a vesting was made that ended years of uncertainty about the legal status of the building. At the hearing the freehold of the building was vested in BADT, so it can be restored and maintained as a community asset for the future.
This landmark ruling followed news that the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) has awarded a grant of £1,421,500 towards the project, and a further grant £300,000 has been confirmed by English Heritage. Mike Carter, Chair of the LSI working group, said: “We are absolutely delighted with the outcome of recent funding applications, and with the decision of the High Court. An enormous amount of time and effort has been put into the project to be able to reach this point and we are very grateful to the hundreds of local people who have helped us to make it happen.”
Nerys Watts, Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund South West, said: “This fantastic project will seamlessly combine the restoration of a Grade II* listed building whilst also providing it with a sustainable future. The plans we’re supporting today will see the creation of a multi-use space that’s open to the public including heritage interpretation space, a café, rental space for small creative enterprises and education, training and meeting rooms. Projects such as this are a wonderful use of Lottery Funds bringing wide-ranging community, economic and heritage benefits.”
Ruth Garner, Heritage at Risk Principal for English Heritage in the South West said: “This impressive grade II* listed building with a fascinating past can once again become ‘the jewel in the crown’ of Bridport’s heritage. Our substantial grant will fund vital stone conservation work and major roof repairs. We congratulate the BADT on gaining the freehold for the building. Their enthusiasm and determination to get to this point has been remarkable and we look forward to working with them in achieving their excellent objectives for the building and, ultimately, removing it from our Heritage at Risk register.”
Christopher Scally, Joint Commissioning Manager for Dorset County Council, said: “We’re really pleased that the future of this important building has been secured and are grateful to the volunteers of BADT for their hard work over several years. It’s going to be very rewarding to see this listed building given a new lease of life and once again adding to the town’s social and economic well-being.”
What will it be?
The project is the result of extensive community consultation and conversations over more than ten years, to identify and develop a viable future use for the building. The plan that BADT has developed has come from an exploration of the historic uses of the building and a desire to reinterpret its original aims and purposes to meet the needs of the town today and in the future without public subsidy.
Crystal Johnson, Activities Coordinator, said “Historically the building has always been closely linked to training and education, supporting the development of the local economy but also looking to add to the cultural offer of the town. In this vein we have developed good relationships with local colleges and training providers, with our thriving local net industry and with organisations focussing on local economic development and support. We will be working with these bodies to develop fit for purpose training facilities, work hub, meeting rooms, and small start-up office spaces in the building. Alongside this we will be exploring the history and heritage of the building and delivering a programme of related activities, workshops and talks. There will also be facilities that local groups can use for meetings, talks and events. A café on the ground floor will cater for users of the building but also provide public access to the most historically significant space within the building.
We are very excited about the potential of this project to deliver something completely new for the town, we know there are large numbers of people setting up or looking to develop their own businesses in the area and the LSI will provide a unique and aspirational venue to support this local growth. In addition we are working closely with other heritage organisations in the town and through these partnerships we also hope to raise the profile and really celebrate our incredible cultural and industrial heritage.”
The Literary and Scientific Institute is a grade II* listed building and has been on English Heritage’s At Risk register since 2002. The project will completely restore the building, and also improve its facilities to ensure that it is fully accessible for everyone. Mike Carter said, “The building is in a very poor state and there are some significant structural issues that need to be addressed. We will be working closely with English Heritage, listed building officers and an experienced professional team to ensure that the restoration is sympathetic to its historic character and safeguards the building’s future.
We will be finalising the legal and funding agreements over the next few weeks with a view to starting the project in May. Initially there is a lot more detailed planning that needs to be completed before work can start on site so we are aiming to begin work on the building later this year. We anticipate that the restoration will take just under two years and hope to be able to reopen the building in early 2017. It is not an easy project due to the complexity of the restoration and the extent of work that needs to be undertaken to restore the building. The building has been slowly decaying over the past 17 years, we hope that everyone will bear with us for the next couple of years as inevitably there will be some short term inconveniences as we work to save this incredibly important building for the town and its future generations”.
The total cost of the project will be approximately £2.4m, but the majority of this funding is now confirmed, and includes support from HLF, English Heritage, Challenge Fund, Pilgrim Trust, Headley Trust, Dorset County Council, West Dorset District Council, and Bridport Town Council. Crystal Johnson said, “there is still about £140,000 to raise but we feel we are now on the home straight. We will be continuing with our fundraising efforts through the project delivery and we would welcome additional support or assistance. If anyone is interested to get involved, even if they could only offer and hour or two, we would love to hear from them. We are holding an informal meeting to talk about the plans for fundraising at The Stable on Monday 27 April – please do drop in between 5.30pm and 6.30pm”.
If you would like to get involved in the project or join the mailing list please contact Crystal by email, Crystal@bridportadt.org.uk
The Methodist Church in West Bay (the Chapel on the Beach) which has been closed for a number of years, is in the process of conversion to a Visitor/Interpretation Centre and opened for 250 hours during August and September.
The Methodists stopped using the building in 2006, and no other religious denomination could be found to continue its use as a place of worship. The building is now owned by the Bridport Area Development Trust, a volunteer-run community organisation committed to restoring historic buildings and bringing them back into use.
Since the closure of the Harbour Museum at the Salt House, West Bay has lacked information/interpretation about the history and development of the resort and the unique environment of Lyme Bay. The new Centre at the Methodist Church will fill this gap with permanent displays and temporary exhibitions on a range of subjects. Although most of the pews have been removed, many of the attractive features of the Church have been retained.
In addition to the main interpretation, which includes some great photographs, there are temporary displays provided by the Bridport Museum Trust and the MARINElife charity. The Trust would particularly like to hear from people with information, memories, photographs and other material about West Bay.
The Bridport Area Development Trust (BADT) has recently submitted Planning (WD/D/14/001181) and Listed Building (WD/D/14/001182) applications for its proposals to restore the Literary and Scientific Institute (LSI), formerly the town’s public library.
There will be a public exhibition of the plans and proposals at Bridport Town Hall on Wednesday 4th June, from 10 am to 2 pm. Members of the public are invited to come along and discuss the plans with members of the BADT project team including the architect, Paul Richold of Architecton Ltd.
Once registered, the plans will be also be available for inspection in the planning office at Mountfield and on the Dorsetforyou planning website.
Charles Wild, Chairman of the Bridport Area Development Trust which is working to save the Institute, said,
“Although it has been closed and empty for seventeen years, the Literary and Scientific Institute is as important to Bridport’s story as the Glasgow School of Art (shockingly damaged by last week’s disastrous fire) is to that great city.
“There is a direct connection between the two institutions, through the involvement of Fra Newbery, who trained and taught at the Bridport School of Art housed in the LSI building in the late 19th century. Newbery became Director of the Glasgow School and was mentor of its great designer and architect, Charles Rennie Mackintosh.
“We hope people will come along next week and look at our plans to bring the LSI back to life.”
The application to the Heritage Lottery Fund has been under preparation since the Bridport Area Development Trust received a Round One “pass” in late 2012, and has required the production of detailed architectural plans and other reports and plans to support the bid. The outcome of the application will not be known until the HLF Regional Panel makes its decision in September.
At the same time Planning (WD/D/14/001181) and Listed Building (WD/D/14/001182) applications have been submitted to West Dorset District Council. Once registered the plans will be available for inspection in the council planning office at Mountfield and on the planning website.
The BADT will hold a public exhibition of the plans at Bridport Town Hall on Wednesday 4 June, from 10 am till 2 pm.