More than 17 years after the library moved out of the building, Bridport Literary and Scientific Institute (LSI) is being given a new lease of life thanks to a project developed by local charity, Bridport Area Development Trust (BADT).
In March, BADT, together with Dorset County Council and Sir John Elphinstone, whose great grandfather originally gave the building to the town, went to the High Court where a vesting was made that ended years of uncertainty about the legal status of the building. At the hearing the freehold of the building was vested in BADT, enabling it to be restored and maintained as a community asset for the future.
The project is the result of extensive consultation and conversations over more than ten years, to identify and develop a viable future use for the building. The resulting plan comes from an exploration of the historic uses of the building and a desire to reinterpret its original aims and purposes to meet the needs of the town today and in the future, without public subsidy.
Historically the building has always been closely linked to training and education, supporting the development of the local economy but also adding to the cultural offer of the town. Relationships are being developed with local colleges and training providers, with our thriving local net industry and with organisations focussing on local economic development and support.
The building will provide fit for purpose training facilities, work hub, meeting rooms, and small start-up office spaces. Alongside this a programme of activities, workshops and talks will explore the heritage of the building.
There will be facilities that local groups can use for meetings, talks and events. A café on the ground floor will cater for users of the building but also provide public access to the most historically significant space within the building.
This project will deliver something completely new for the town, there are large numbers of people setting up or looking to develop their own businesses in the area and the LSI will provide a unique and aspirational venue to support this local growth.
In addition the project is working closely with other heritage organisations in the town, to raise the profile and really celebrate our incredible cultural and industrial heritage.