Bridport

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Bridport
Dorset
South Street Bridport, looking North - geograph.org.uk - 345491.jpg
South Street Bridport
Location
Grid reference: SY464925
Location: 50°43’44"N, 2°45’29"W
Data
Population: 12,977
Post town: Bridport
Postcode: DT6
Dialling code: 01308
Local Government
Council: Dorset
Parliamentary
constituency:
West Dorset
Website: http://www.bridportandwestbay.co.uk

Bridport is a market town in Dorset. Located near the coast at the western end of Chesil Beach, where the River Brit is joined by the Asker and Simene. It stands on the world heritage "Jurassic Coast" and Chesil Beach. The loose clay cliffs in the area are abundant with fossils making the area popular with fossil hunters.

The town is famous for its rope-making, which was once its major industry. From its reputation came the expression "stabbed with a Bridport dagger", which to say "hanged"; the hangman's rope being made at Bridport.

Bridport once throve too as a fishing port. The port is no longer in existence although the harbour at West Bay is a mile away.

Bridport has been subject of articles where it was nicknamed "Notting Hill on Sea"[1]

The town attracts a large numbers of second home owners.

West Bay

The Jurassic cliffs, West Bay

West Bay is Bridport's small fishing harbour, a mile and a half from the town centre. It was known as Bridport Harbour until the arrival of the railway, when it received its current name to be more attractive to potential holiday-makers. (West Bay is most in the public consciousness as the scene for the opening shot of The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin.)

West Bay is at the mouth of the River Brit. Today it has a fairly small harbour, two piers and two beaches. The east beach is part of the Chesil Beach.

West Bay and Chesil Beach make up part of the Jurassic Coast, which has been declared a World Heritage Site and which title is much vaunted locally since it was conferred by UNESCO.

Records of West Bay's harbour history somewhat predate the visits of international bureaucrats though. As Bridport Harbour it can be traced back to the 13th century when sluices were constructed across the mouth of the River Brit to form a navigable entrance.

The Great Western Railway reached Bridport in 1857, resulting in the decline of Bridport Harbour and resulted in its being renamed as "West Bay", a name more attractive to holidaymakers.

Culture

Bridport, Dorset - geograph.org.uk - 47461.jpg

Bridport has an arts centre, cinema, library and museum. The museum, located in South Street, includes an extensive exhibition of the town's long history of rope-making.

Bridport Literary Festival

The Bridport Literary Festival has been running since 2005 and has played host to the biggest literary lions including Elizabeth Jane Howard, Victoria Glendinning, Claire Tomalin, Jonathan Dimbleby, Max Hastings, Julian Fellowes, Alexander Waugh, John Julius Norwich, Minette Walters, Fay Weldon, Bill Oddie, Robin Hanbury–Tenison, Katharine Whitehorn, Kate Summerscale, Michael Dobbs and Ann Leslie DBE.

In 2009 the year the event takes place between Friday 13th to Sunday 22 November, and features, amongst others David Aaronovitch, Joanna Toye, Tracy Chevalier, Michael Holroyd, Rick Gekoski, Margaret Drabble, Selina Hastings, Andrew Roberts, Louis de Bernieres, Susan Richards, Anna Pavord, Michael Collins, Claire Harman, John Carey, William Fiennes, Alexander McCall Smith and Horatio Clare.

Bridport Open Studios

The Bridport Art Scene has now gained a national profile, and over 100 artists now participate in the main Bridport Open Studios event that takes place over the three days of the August Bank Holiday weekend. The popularity of the event has led to three more open events in November, Easter and May. The biggest artist led venue is the St Michael's Studio complex on the St Michael's Trading Estate. It provides studios for 25 artists and attracted over 700 visitors to the 2009 Bridport Open Studios event.

West Bay Wallow

The Bridport Round Table organises the West Bay Wallow[2] which takes place on Boxing Day. Anyone can participate in the swim which raises money for good causes. Many take the plunge in fancy dress and generally don't stay in the water for more than 10 minutes.

Food Festival

The Food Festival is held in late June at Asker Meadow. It showcases local produced foods of which the area is well known for. The Beer Festival is also held in the same field which is run by the Bridport Round Table and opens till late.

RNLI raft race

The raft race, organised by the RNLI, is held in July in the River Brit basin at West Bay. Participants build a 'floating vessel' and row it a few hundred yards up the River Brit before returning to the lake by the harbour sluice gates. The idea is to avoid sinking, capsizing or falling in.

Bridport Carnival

The town holds its annual carnival on the third Saturday in August. The main feature is a carnival parade of floats, walking acts and majorettes. Other attractions on the day include carnival darts, carnival golf, a grand car boot sale, carnival fete and a fun fair. After the carnival South Street is closed for the night as live music is played while people dance in the street. Bridport's fun fair, which is situated on Asker Meadow, a local nature reserve is open late.

A torchlight procession takes place the following night where 1,500 torches are carried 2 miles from the town centre to a bonfire at West Bay. This is followed by live music and fireworks. West Bay's fun fair opens till late. The annual events raise money for local good causes and organisations.

Melplash Show

On the Thursday before the August bank holiday weekend each year Bridport hosts the Melplash Show at the West Bay Showgrounds. One of Dorset's three biggest agricultural shows.

St Mary's Church

Churches

  • St Mary's Church (Church of England) - founded in the 13th century though much of the fabric is of the 15th century.[1] A 17th century brass in St Catherine's Chapel commemorates Edward Coker, who was killed in 1685 during the Monmouth Rebellion. The church was substantially restored and altered in the 19th century.
  • Society of Friends (Quaker) Meeting House.

Gallery

References

  1. *Why everyone flocks to Notting Hill on Sea The Observer, 18 February 2007
  2. Wallow in and get out quick! Bridport News, 31 December 2008

Outside links