The Literary and Scientific Institute (LSi) was re-opened in 2018, having been empty for years, during which time it had fallen into severe disrepair and was dangerously close to dereliction and the point of no return. Bridport Area Development Trust rescued this impressive building, restoring an iconic Bridport landmark to a prominent role at the heart of the community.
HRH the Prince of Wales made his first-ever visit to the town to unveil a plaque
commemorating the refurbishment of the LSi on 25th May, 2018.
Built in 1833 as a Mechanics Institute, the LSi, pictured above and below, was back in action as the meeting place for the people of Bridport, fulfilling once more its original social and cultural purposes in providing a specially equipped building for talks, discussions, recitals and teaching activities for participants of any age.
West Bay Discovery Centre, pictured below, is owned and operated by Bridport Area Development Trust.
The former West Bay Methodist Chapel is known locally as ‘the Chapel on the Beach’. The Grade II listed building dates from 1849 and ceased as a place of worship in 2006. The freehold was transferred to the Trust in 2012 by the council on the understanding that the building was to be used to provide visitor information about the history and environment of West Bay and its environs.
The Trust attracted support from the Coastal Communities Fund, which, with other grants, financed the restoration of the former chapel, providing a purpose-built home for the West Bay Discovery Centre, which opened on 1st August 2018.
The Discovery Centre provides an insight to West Bay and the Jurassic Coast, revealing its hidden history, local stories and offering fascinating facts about the natural environment.
We use interactive experiences to make learning about West Bay fun for all ages. Our challenge to visitors is to make your own discoveries, then come back and share them with us. We offer changing themed exhibitions and aim to provide the latest local information. A programme of talks, guided walks, and events are also on offer.
The Discovery Centre is run by a part-time manager and an enthusiastic team of volunteers. Since it opened it has attracted well over 30,000 visitors (to March 2020) and has won several Local and National Awards including Dorset Tourism Gold Award, South West Tourism Excellence Silver Award and The Dorset Community Heritage Project award.
Our mission is to continue to grow people’s appreciation of West Bay and the Jurassic Coast using the unique stories that tell its history, hidden heritage and natural environment, so that our visitors will reflect, return and reconnect with us, again and again. We do this by offering a ‘treasure trove’ of stories, information and activities, with something for all ages and interests.