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A Secret 'kinda' place
Bridport in General
Member Name: lamorna
Bridport in General
Date: 31/10/00, updated on 08/01/01 (250 review reads)
Advantages: Beeching took out trains away!
Disadvantages: Beeching took our trains away!
Counting inwards from the entrances to Bridport from the North, West, East and South, you will discover over fifty licensed premises serving a population of approximately seven and a half thousand people. It’s a laid back kinda Town. If you visit every one of them whilst counting you’ll be hospitalised. It’s been tried. Dire results!
Try to approach Bridport for the first time, by driving West along the coast road from Weymouth and see the full beauty of the whole of Lyme Bay. Motoring gently through the undulating, winding road, with stunning coastal views to the left, and wind-blown hills and farmland to the right, will prepare you for the pleasures that unfold. The drive of about fifteen miles takes you past the natural phenomena of Chesil Beach, Abbotsbury with it's Tythe Barn and Monastry, The Tropical Gardens, the world famous Swannery and the Village of Burton Bradstock, all a ‘must’ to be visited during a break in Bridport.
There is the ideal official Viewing Place just outside Abbotsbury, so park and absorb the full flavour of where you’ve come from, and where you’re heading. To the left are the views of Portland Bill,( If you can't see Portland Bill, then it's raining, and if you can see it, then it's going to!) and to the right, Lyme Regis nestling under the cliffs in the distance.. I have driven this road, seen these views many times, and never fail to feel emotional, as emotional to this day, as I felt over twenty years ago, when I first saw them, and they took my breathe away.
A one street Town: Very wide pavements: No two buildings in the high street the same: Multi-Nationals? So many Public Houses!!!! Surrounded by hills to the North, East and West and the sea to the South:
Way it is:
There are four main streets. North Street to the North, East Street to London, West Street to Cornwall, and South Street to the sea and Bridport’s port, West Bay, one and a half miles away. West Bay deserves a review of it's own as an unusual, earthy real fishing port and holiday destination, as well as it being the location for the BBC Drama Harbour Lights with Nick Berry.Got it's own pubs too....
The Wide Pavements:
Bridport’s main manufacturing industry for many years, and still is to a large degree, was rope making. The raw materials, flax and hemp, were shipped to the Port, made into rope products (The goal nets in the World Cup 1966, fishing nets, Wimbledon) and laid out along the wide pavements to dry. The pavements are at least two or three times wider than the average town’s and are particularly agreeable to saunter along while shopping and comfortably accommodate a Street Market twice a week, as Bridport has a royal Charter and carries the title of Charter Market Town. The Street Market is a main event on Wednesdays and Saturdays offering live music, buskers, antiques, food, bric-a-brac, clothes, vinyl, fruit and vegetables, flowers, cheese, meat, fish, organic and everything a real, live market should have, drawing people in from the outlying villages and towns, while visitors put it on their list of ‘Must dos’ while they’re here.
Licensed Premises! Lots?
Bridport is a brewery town. The independent family brewers Palmers &Sons have been brewing real ales in their thatched brewery on the River Brit on the southern edge of town for over two hundred years. When they announced a celebration bitter to mark their 200th anniversary, hell broke loose in Town. Named Bridport 200, peaceful grown men, with no aggro in a bone of their bodies, were to be seen finger pointing, verbally, and even physically abusing anything that didn’t get out of the way fast enoug
h! The women in town ganged together to put an unofficial ban on their men even sniffing the barmaid’s apron if it’d been anywhere near Bridport 200. let alone drink it! Be warned…
Palmers owns about twenty five pubs in Bridport, and the rest of the licensed premises are free houses, restaurants, licensed cafés, wine bars, wine shops, hotels and clubs, making the total around the fifty mark. I couldn’t even begin to describe the variety of choices we have as residents, as to where we take our waters. With choices like that, there’s a bar for everybody, giving a wonderful mixture of culture and society, depending on your mood. Many of the pubs feature live music, and foods choices vary from a pickled egg to a Lobster Thermidor…take your pick.
Walk along the wide streets and look up at some of the shop signs. Cross-Keys, Travellers, The Swan, still swinging proudly on display and showing evidence of them all having been pubs once upon a time. There was once over one hundred public houses in Bridport. While you’re here take an organised trip round Palmers Brewery and see how the ale is made, and view the history of this unique family brewery.
The Multi-Nationals are here, as in any High Street, but they blend in well with the wide variety of independently owned and run shops in town. I moved here from a smart Surrey village with a cricket green, mock Tudor houses and a sense of uniformity about the place. I drove into Bridport and was struck by the total miss-match of all the buildings, but I was blinkered. Drop down into the secondary streets; see the amber, golden glow of the local stone houses, the redbrick Victorian town houses and cottages, the side alleys and low roofed cottages with gardens to die for.
Arts and Culture:
We are very proud of our Art Centre, housed in a grand Georgian building in South Street, with a theatre, bar, cafe and a venue for a variety of events from Wo
rld Music, Opera, Comedy and the permanent Art Gallery, in honour of Kenneth Alsopp, the respected and much missed journalist who lived here.
PJ Harvey was born here, has a home here, and a recording Studio where she gives space to local, talented musicians to rehearse and get the feel of up to the minute recording facilities.
Martin Clunes, of Men Behaving Badly walks anonymously around the Town with his young family.
Hugh Fearnly Whittington, of River Cottage fame, makes his own brand of River Cottage organically grown tomato chutney and sells it personally at the bi-monthly Farmer's Market.
Robin Day used to kiss barmaids hands on a regular basis.
Tom Sharpe would sit quietly in a corner of a bar and 'observe' people in order to create another charactor for his hilariously funny novels.
The creator of K9, of 'Doctor Who' fame, lives in a cottage on the beach.
Keith Floyd would cook fresh scallops as a guest appearance in one of the local pubs.
Bridport has a good atmosphere, it’s warm and welcoming: W Reg. cars from the last time around fill the streets. It's a melting pot. People of all class, wealth, education, profession and trade mix happily together. It doesn't matter what you wear. Nobody cares about your bank balance. Nobody's impressed. It's not a wealthy Town, but a proper town that thrives in the winter under it’s own steam, as well as being a popular tourist resort in the summer. It attracts, writers, actors and musicians, a favourite place for filmmakers. It’s nicknamed ‘The Honey Pot’ Once you arrive, it’s difficult to leave. Everybody returns…
The official Bridport and West Bay website at the top of this review, offers a wealth of information and history of the Town, with plenty of links to local interests, places to stay, visit, shop, drink and it even has a chat room! Might see you in there
? Even better, might see you in Bridport!