Dan Cruickshank at Bull Hotel to support Institute project

Dan Cruickshank speaking at the Bull Hotel

Dan Cruickshank speaking at the Bull Hotel

TV presenter, author and architectural expert Dan Cruickshank gave a spellbinding talk on Bridport’s architecture to a full house in the ballroom at the Bull Hotel, Bridport, on Thursday 21 November, as the centrepiece of a fundraising event to support the Literary and Scientific Institute restoration project.  The evening also included supper for 80 and a well-supported charity auction.

The Bridport Area Development Trust, which is leading the project to restore the LSI, would like to thank Dan Cruickshank for his support in coming to give his presentation, Richard and Nikki Cooper for hosting the event, as well as all their staff, helpers and friends who made the evening such a success (especially Ali and Alex), all those who donated prizes for the charity auction and raffle, and local businesses and producers who made contributions, including Philip & Julia Colfox  (Symondsbury Estate), Eddie Colfox. Mark Hix, Boo and Guy Mallinson, Rex Johnson (Rex Johnson Furniture), Ellen Streatfeild (Denhay Farms), Andrew Oldham, Adrian Paterson and Louise Johnson-Hill, Rawles Butchers, Mike Wade (WadeWaxworks), Kestrel Boyle, Cheese Cellar, Chris and Maddy Chibnall, Cilla & Camilla, Country Seats, Denhay Farms, The Electric Palace, Footeprints, Fruits of the Earth, Furleigh Estate, Gemma’s Flowers, Groves Nurseries, Jessica’s Cakes, Jaxsons Deli, Leakers Bakery, Naturalife Wholefoods, River Cottage HQ, Samways Fish, Simon Dunn Chocolatier, Waitrose, Washingpool Farm, Wessex Wines, Wincanton Fine Foods Company, also all those who bought tickets for the sell-out event and made generous bids in the charity auction.

Bull cheque presentation Dec 2013

Charles Wild, Chair of BADT, and Crystal Johnson, LSI project coordinator (both left), accept a cheque for £8190 from Bull Hotel owner Richard Cooper and Hotel and Events Manager Ali Pember.

The Dan Cruickshank event raised a tremendous £8,190 towards the restoration project’s fundraising target.

Richard Cooper, owner of The Bull Hotel said, “We were delighted to host this event.  The restoration of the Literary and Scientific Institute is an incredibly important project for the town, and one which we believe the whole community should get behind and support, in whatever way they can”.

Institute Conservation Plan out for consultation

The Bridport Literary and Scientific InstituteOne of the requirements for a successful Heritage Lottery grant application is the production of a Conservation Plan for the Literary and Scientific Institute.

The Conservation Plan is intended to provide a background understanding of the building’s historic development and significance, and to develop appropriate policies for its future care and management, to avoid harm to its special interest and to identify the significance of different elements of the building.

In the first instance the Conservation Plan will inform immediate proposals for the building’s re-use.  Beyond the scope of the restoration project, the Plan will serve as a long-term strategic tool for the building’s upkeep, and as a benchmark against which future proposals can be developed and tested.

A copy of the Draft Conservation Plan, which has been prepared by Alan Baxter & Associates LLP, will be available for inspection from 5 November 2013 in the downstairs council office at Mountfield, Rax Lane, Bridport.  Alternatively the document can be downloaded here.

LSI Conservation Area Plan Draft pdf, part 1

LSI Conservation Area Plan Draft pdf, part 2

LSI Conservation Area Plan Draft pdf, part 3

LSI Conservation Area Plan Draft pdf, part 4

LSI Conservation Area Plan Draft pdf, part 5

Comments on the document should be sent no later than Monday 2 December 2013, by email to lmmcintyre@alanbaxter.co.uk, or by post to

Lisa McIntyre

Alan Baxter & Associates LLP

75 Cowcross Street



History Talk at Bridport Town Hall

Henry Warburton, MP,

Henry Warburton, MP, founder of the Bridport Institute

The turbulent political background to the foundation of the Bridport Mechanics’ Institute (later Literary and Scientific Institute) was the subject of a talk by the historian Dr Tim Connor at Bridport Town Hall on Friday 25 October.

The talk looked at the extreme conservatism of Bridport’s ways of government in the early nineteenth century and at the forces for change, in which the agitation for Parliamentary Reform was foremost.  Dr Connor discussed the origins of the Mechanics Institute “as an idealistic attempt to remedy a social problem as well as a clever bit of electioneering.  After its opening, and the reform of the Corporation, the town had twenty years to get used to the new way of things, before the arrival of the railway.”

After his very well-received talk, Dr Connor answered a number of questions from a packed Town Hall audience.  All proceeds from the event have been donated to the Literary and Scientific Institute restoration fund.

Tim Connor has a particular interest in the architecture of churches and local historic buildings, including the Literary and Scientific Institute, and is the author of Wytherston – a History of a Dorset settlement.

Institute featured in Dorset Life

Dorset Life article page 1The BADT’s campaign to save the Literary and Scientific Institute (LSI) was the subject of a major feature in the October edition of Dorset Life magazine.  The article, by Tamsin Chandler, entitled “From ‘at risk’ to ‘at the heart of Bridport’”, recounts the history of the LSI from its foundation as a Mechanics Institute in the 1830s, its transition to a Literary and Scientific Institute and the success of the Bridport School of Art, through to its post-war existence as the town’s public library and subsequent decline to a nationally recognised “Building at Risk”.  The well-illustrated article is based on an extended interview with project coordinator Crystal Johnson, who outlines the BADT’s plans to restore the Institute as a high quality multi-use venue with a strong emphasis on education and training in the traditions of the building’s distinguished history.

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 eendymion@yahoo.com.

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 crystal.johnson1@virgin.net.

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”.