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.

Trust Hosts national Preservation Trust Association meeting

On Tuesday 26 June the Bridport Area Development Trust hosted a meeting of the South West branch of the UK Association of Preservation Trusts (which has since been renamed Heritage Trust Network) in Bridport Town Hall.

The UKAPT (established 1989) acts as the representative body for Building Preservation Trusts in the UK.  There are around 300 BPTs in the United Kingdom, and membership is open to charities whose principal objective is to preserve historic buildings.  The Bridport Area Development Trust is a registered charity which includes as one of its principal objectives “the preservation of buildings or sites of historic or architectural importance “

“We have found the APT a very useful organisation and a source of considerable support and encouragement since joining in 2011.  The meetings of the SW branch, which take place three times a year in different towns in the south West, provide a great opportunity to hear about the experiences and knowledge of organisations engaged in similar projects to our own.  We welcomed the opportunity to act as hosts for the recent meeting.” (Charles Wild, Chair of BADT)

The meeting was chaired by Claire Donovan, from the Poltimore House Trust near Exeter, and received presentations from The APT’s UK Director, Dr James Moir, and from Liz Clare, who gave an informative update on recent reorganisation at English Heritage.  Crystal Johnson gave an illustrated presentation about the restoration of Bridport Town Hall and the BADT’s own projects to restore the Literary and Scientific Institute, and a number of the delegates visited the two sites after the meeting.  Both projects are featured on the UK APT website among conservation projects in the South West.


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.