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.