Bridport Town Hall (1786) by William Tyler RA
Bridport shown within Dorset
|OS grid reference|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|EU Parliament||South West England|
|UK Parliament||West Dorset|
Bridport is a market town in Dorset, England. Located near the coast at the western end of Chesil Beach at the confluence of the River Brit and its Asker and Simene tributaries, it originally thrived as a fishing port and rope-making centre (the hangman's rope being made at Bridport gave birth to the saying "stabbed with a Bridport dagger"). The port is no longer in existence although the harbour at West Bay is a mile away.
According to the 2001 Census, the population of Bridport stands at 12,977. One and a half miles from the town centre and within the town's boundary lies West Bay, a small fishing harbour known as Bridport Harbour until the arrival of the railway. At that time it was "rebranded" to its current name to make it sound more attractive. West Bay was also the scene for the opening shot of The Life and Times of Reginald Perrin and the 1950s film of The Navy Lark was also shot there. Bridport has been subject of articles where it was nicknamed "Notting Hill on Sea" but is known to locals as "Bridders". The town attracts a large numbers of second home owners.
A number of these districts were formerly small surrounding villages which have gradually coalesced with Bridport over the years (see below). Bothenhampton in particular is still regarded by locals as a separate village.
Surrounding villages 
Bridport is situated 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. Its most famous landmark is the view of the conical Colmers Hill with small clump of trees aligned with West Steet.
Industry and commerce 
The town has some light industry, most notably Palmer's Brewery (JC & RH Palmer Ltd) which, under various aliases, owns other property in the town and which recently celebrated its bicentennial. Other established companies include AmSafe Bridport, successors to the old firm of Bridport-Gundry. AmSafe’s aviation products can be found on most commercial aircraft, including seat belts, restraints, cargo and barrier nets, tie-downs, and cabin interior textiles.
Other companies include Curtiss Wright and Edwards Sports. Amsafe and Edwards Sports are the main survivors of Bridport's 750-year-old rope and net making history. Even today, the goal nets of any major football championships are likely to have been made in Bridport as would be the tennis nets, the wooden posts and the umpire's chair at Wimbledon.
Bridport has a thriving commercial centre with a twice-weekly street market and monthly farmers' market. RJ Balson & Son, a butcher's shop on West Allington, is known as "England's Oldest Family Butchers", and claims a continuous line of family butchers back to the year 1535. According to the Institute for Family Business, it is the oldest continuously trading family business in the UK.
Bridport has an arts centre, theatre, 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.
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 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 locally produced foods for which the area is well known. The Food Festival week concludes with the Round Table Beer Festival.
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 next to Morrisons supermarket, 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 until late. The annual events raise money for local good causes and organisations.
Melplash Show 
The main Honiton - Southampton road A35 passes around Bridport on a bypass and the A3066 to Crewkerne, via Beaminster starts in Bridport. There is also a direct road to Weymouth, the B3157 also known as the coast road, this take you through the coastal villages of Burton Bradstock and Abbotsbury.
There are regular buses to Weymouth and Axminster every hour weekdays, and the X53 Exeter - Poole coastal service stops at the main bus station every two hours most weekdays with some extra services during the school summer holidays. There are a few buses a day to Crewkerne and Yeovil, and minor buses serving surrounding villages as well.
Railway (until 1975) 
Bridport railway station closed on 5 May 1975 - one of the last closures directly associated with the "Beeching cuts" of the 1960s. The Bridport branch line ran from the junction with the Weymouth-Yeovil-Bristol "Heart of Wessex" line at Maiden Newton railway station; it was usually operated in its final years by a single carriage "Class 122" diesel train.
The nearest railway stations to Bridport now are at Maiden Newton, Crewkerne, Dorchester or Axminster. There is an infrequent bus service to Maiden Newton (71) and a bus service linking Axminster station, Dorchester South and West stations, and Weymouth railway stations (31) and a bus service linking the majority of Exeter railway stations, and Weymouth, Wool, Wareham, Poole, and formerly Bournemouth railway stations (X53)
Primary schools in Bridport are Bridport Primary School, St Mary's CE VC Primary School, St Catherines RC Primary School, and Symondsbury CE VC Primary School.
The Sir John Colfox School, a specialist Language College, is the town's only secondary school. It located on the outskirts of the town and serves ages 11 to 18. The sixth form is combined with Beaminster School in nearby Beaminster. Children also attend Woodroffe School, Colyton Grammar School and the Thomas Hardye School. There are daily buses running to these schools from Bridport.
St Mary's Church was founded in the 13th century and a large proportion of the building dates from the 15th century. There is a 17th century brass in St. Catherine's Chapel that commemorates Edward Coker who was killed in 1685 during the Monmouth Rebellion. The church was substantially restored and altered in the 19th century.
Opposite the church is a Society of Friends Meeting House.
The Unitarian "Chapel in the Garden" on the north side of East Street, next to the Literary and Scientific Institute, provides a neutral, personal development resource for an open faith community in which people are assisted in finding their own spiritual path.
The town's rugby union club is Bridport RFC.
Bridport & West Dorset Golf Club is situated atop of the east cliff at West Bay. The club has an 18 hole links course, driving range and pitch & putt course.
Bridport Barracudas Swimming Club is based at Bridport Leisure Centre. A thriving Water Polo section has junior and senior teams competing in the Dorset Water Polo League. Water Polo matches are held in summer in the outer harbour at West Bay, continuing a tradition dating back to 1898.
The area also hosts one of the last remaining real tennis courts that was recently renovated with the aid of a lottery grant.
Notable people 
Local celebrities include singer P.J. Harvey, actor Martin Clunes, musician and Stackridge frontman Mutter Slater and socialist musician Billy Bragg. Former Plymouth Argyle and Torquay United footballer and manager Kevin Hodges was born in the town, as was Silicon Valley's Neil Trevett, VP of Mobile Content at NVIDIA.
Bridport and the surrounding area was used to film Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's Channel 4 television programme River Cottage and the BBC dramas Harbour Lights starring Nick Berry and Rockliffe's Folly starring Ian Hogg.
Bridport has one main local newspaper, The Bridport News owned by Newsquest which is published weekly on a Thursday. There are also a number of free papers, one being A View From Bridport. The Dorset Echo also serves Bridport and is published daily from Monday to Saturday.
Local television is served by BBC Spotlight based in Plymouth and ITV West Country based in Bristol. Terrestrial television is transmitted in digital from the Stockland Hill Transmitter and also a digital relay transmitter based at Highlands End.
Bridport is a Met Office coastal weather observation point and such it is often included as a place name on the BBC national weather map.
The town's local commercial radio station is Wessex FM which broadcasts at 96.0FM. Owned by The Local Radio Company it also serves Weymouth and Dorchester. BBC local Radio includes both BBC Radio Devon and BBC Radio Solent.
Bridport lies between boundaries of broadcasters of the South and those of the South West. Viewers in Bridport are more likely to receive news about Devon and Cornwall than they are about East and North Dorset. To bridge the gap in the county the BBC proposed launching BBC Radio Dorset but this was soon dropped following BBC cut backs. The Dorset Broadcasting Action Group campaigns for better coverage in the area.
There is only one Bridport orientated website targeted at the local community rather than tourism. Called Bridport Radio, it doesn’t actually have any true radio content but instead is in the form of a newspaper format. The site mixes local information with comedic made up news stories like an article surrounding the fictitious Bridport monorail. The site allows users to comment on local subjects but disappointingly negative comments about the media's nickname of the town “Notting Hill on Sea” were highlighted by a national newspaper.
The closure in 2005 of Bridport's only nightclub, "DeVinchies", left a void in Bridport's late night entertainment scene, with many having to travel to Weymouth, Dorchester or Seaton for an alternative.
The town boasts three theatres: Bridport Arts Centre, the Electric Palace Cinema, reopened in 2007 and The Lyric Theatre, reopened in 2010. Each offers a different type of entertainment: The Bridport Art Centre holding a more traditional, seasonal programme with events from poetry to music; The Electric Palace promoting regular music gigs, monthly comedy nights and films and The Lyric offering quirky theatre, puppetry, comedy, clowning and music. In March 2009 the Electric Palace cinema hosted the world premiere of The Young Victoria. There are also many events at the nearby Bridport Arts Centre which in 2013 hosted an exclusive preview of episode one of ITV's Broadchurch drama as it was filmed in the town. The Lyric Theatre is also the base of the children's theatre company, Stuff and Nonsense who rehearse, make puppets and perform their eccentric, family-friendly shows there throughout the year.
See also 
- best and worst places to live 2006
- Why everyone flocks to Notting Hill on Sea The Observer, 18 February 2007
- Great Bridders Menu Bridport Radio
- 2001 Census - 4.1% Second Homes (Dorset 2.8%) dorsetforyou.com
- Farmers' Markets in Dorset BBC Dorset
- Dorset butchers is 'oldest family business in UK'
- Luke Salkeld (2011-11-04). "Butchers RJ Balson and Sons crowned oldest family business in Britain | Mail Online". Dailymail.co.uk. Retrieved 2013-05-19.
- Wallow in and get out quick! Bridport News, 31 December 2008
- "Unitarians; many beliefs, one faith". Retrieved 28 January 2013.
- "Unitarian Chapel in the Garden Bridport". Retrieved 28 January 2013.
- "Toolstation Western Football League".
- Who dunnit TV drama stars West Bay Bridport News, 5 September 2012
- County station proposal dropped BBC News, 18 October 2007
- Dorset Broadcasting Action Group (DorBAG)
- Townies in the country The Times, 18 October 2009
- Oscar-winner's love affair with Victoria Dorset Echo, 3 March 2009
- Welcome to Bridport, or Notting Hill on Sea The Telegraph, 17 March 2007.
- Bridports reaction to Notting Hill on Sea references. Bridport Radio 22 February 2007.
- Bridport: Notting Hill by Sea? BBC Dorset
- Brits love to be beside the seaside The Times, 29 April 2008.
- Postcode lottery: DT6 The Times, 2 May 2008.
|Wikisource has the text of the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica article Bridport.|
|Wikivoyage has travel information related to: Bridport|
- Bridport Town Council
- Bridport and West Bay Official Community website
- Bridport at the Open Directory Project