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.

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.

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.

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.