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If you like candles, aromatherapy oils and woodcarving
Broadwindsor Craft and Design Centre (Dorset)
Member Name: tomc
Broadwindsor Craft and Design Centre (Dorset)
Date: 13/07/01, updated on 13/07/01 (1015 review reads)
Advantages: Various shops in one centre, Free admission, Easy car-parking
Disadvantages: All a bit predictable
Broadwindsor Craft and Design Centre is about seven miles north of Bridport and about a couple of miles west of Beaminster, located needless to say in the village of Broadwindsor. Most parts of the country seem to have similar centres these days, a community of small shops and workshops, congregated around a set of redundant farm buildings. They provide opportunities for small locally-based crafts-people or artists to market their products, by enabling them to share location and publicity and other facilities like restaurants, car-parks and toilets.
I’ve been so several places like this and Broadwindsor is fairly typical. It was a damp day in Dorset and so quite a number of other holiday-makers seemed to have turned up to get away from the rather miserable weather on the coast. The centre was easy to find, being well-sign posted from the village, and the car park had plenty of space in it.
The Centre is quite small and unless you’re determined to pour over all the products on offer, you’d be hard put to spend more than an hour or so looking round. The craft and gift shops are fairly predictable, but that’s not to criticise them as there’s obviously a market for the various goods on offer. I’ll just mention a few of them so readers can get a flavour.
Earth Design focuses on semi-precious stones, crystals and ethnic sculpture, jewellery and books on personal growth. The books were all very predictable although there’s obviously a huge market somewhere for books about “using the hidden powers of the universe to heal your inner child”.
The Perfect Setting has an excellent range of table-ware and glass ware. Becca’s Quilt Emporium” sells, well what do you expect? Quilts. Oh, and cushions too.
Clay, Sand and Fire sell hand-painted glassware and ceramics. Daisy Chain specialise in hand-crafter leather goods, pottery and jewellery.
r>Sean Bartlett Woodcraft is an outlet for a wood carver who seems to specialise on hand-carved bowls. Very impressive stuff in here and I hope he has found a good market for his obvious skills.
Caboodle sells a large range of “gifts” which means scented candles, jars of chutney, old-fashioned confectionary, greetings cards etc.
Gorilla’s Nest is a small shop selling paintings and other art work by Andrew Howarth. I think he’s going to have to work hard to sustain a whole gallery of his own and I noticed he’s taking commissions for “house portraits” which might be a more lucrative way of making a living than producing the very average watercolours on sale in his shop.
The café/restaurant is very attractive, being partly contained in a large conservatory, but the staff seemed rather over-stretched on the day we went and the queue for the self-service counter was unacceptably long. By the time we reached the counter at about 1.15pm they’d sold out of hot food and several of the other customers were quite cross, particularly as they’d been looking at other folk eating what looked like quite appetising meals while they were queuing! We had sandwiches and coffee and the prices were quite reasonable.
The Centre is open most of the year, from 1 February to 23 December which suggests to me that it doesn’t just rely on the holiday trade but has found loyal customers in the surrounding towns. Its open from 10.00am to 5.00pm seven days a week. There is no admission charge. The phone number is 01308 868362 if you want to ring ahead to check opening times etc.
The word that springs to mind for most of the goods on offer is “twee”. I feel bad about saying it though as obviously its important to support small-scale rural businesses against huge companies like Body Shop and Habitat. For me, the place would be improved if it had some really good ar
t work, a decent bookshop, and perhaps a garden shop rather catering so much for the scented candle and aromatherapy oil trade which is just so over-done these days.
All in all I’d say it’s a good place to spend an hour or so on a damp day and no doubt you could find a present for a relative or friend somewhere in the various outlets. For myself I find myself wandering round surprised that among all the goods on offer there’s nothing I want to buy. Is this a man thing?
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