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.
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.
View towards screen and entrance during public opening and exhibition in Summer 2014.
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.
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”.
The Chapel on the Beach, West Bay
Following an invitation from West Dorset District Council, the BADT has expressed an interest in taking on the freehold of the former Methodist Church in West Bay (“the Chapel on the Beach”), for a nominal price of £1, to be accompanied by a £30,000 grant towards renovation costs. In the absence of any expressions of interest, the distrct council would place the building on the open market – the Chapel has been empty and unused since it ceased operation as a place of worship in 2006. The Trust is interested in converting the building to an exhibition space or visitor centre. Following further discussions with West Dorset District Council and receipt of a condition survey of the building, the Trust agreed to take on the freehold of the Chapel.