12th May, 2022

A Bridport landmark has reached an important milestone in its near 200-year history.

The project to rescue the Literary and Scientific Institute (LSi) in East Street has been signed off by the National Lottery Heritage Fund (NLHF).

It is the culmination of a 13-year undertaking driven by the vision and commitment of many volunteers working with Bridport Area Development Trust (BADT).

In 2009 the LSi was close to dereliction. It stood empty and neglected, its future undecided and its prospects bleak. The Georgian building had historical, social and architectural significance, a prominent location but no role in the community.

Concern that the Institute would be lost was the motivation behind the founding of BADT, which was established with a wide-ranging remit to promote urban or rural regeneration in areas of social and economic deprivation.

The NLHF has played a key role from the outset, providing significant funding as well as expert advice essential to a challenging restoration. It has been integral to the reappraisal of the LSi, begun in 2020 in the face of changing economic conditions and the disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. A revised business model was required to ensure a sustainable future for the building. The approval of BADT’s Final Evaluation recognises the success of the new LSi partnership, involving commercial and charitable tenants, and ends the NLHF’s involvement.

A spokesperson for the National Lottery Heritage Fund said: “We are pleased to see from the Final Evaluation the future that BADT has achieved for the LSI. At times this has been a very difficult path, and we appreciate the hard work and tenacity the Trust has put into getting the LSi into a viable position.”

A spokesperson for Bridport Area Development Fund said: “The LSi could not have been assured a sustainable future without the detailed input of the National Lottery Heritage Fund, whose support, advice and guidance have been invaluable. The NLHF has set high standards throughout, for example with regard to the operational model of the LSi and to the governance of the project from inception through to the provision of an enduring community asset with a prominent place in the town’s cultural, social and commercial life.”

The community access programmes and provisions for the LSi have been devised in cooperation with the National Lottery and other prominent funders, including Bridport Town Council, Dorset Council, Historic England and the Architectural Heritage Fund.

BADT added: “The restoration and repurposing of the LSi has always been a complex, collaborative undertaking and the NLHF has been central to its success. BADT is very grateful for its financial, technical and administrative contributions.

“We are delighted to have had the National Lottery as a partner; without it a prominent historic building could not have been rescued. The Heritage Fund has been central to creating the innovative joint venture that now sustains the LSi and provides something new and exciting for Bridport.”

The LSi tenants are Crowdfunder, one of the UK’s leading crowdfunding platforms; 3DC, a charity working in human rights, humanitarian issues and social, economic and environmental justice; and Gillinghams, a financial services company which has been a high street presence in Bridport for more than a century.

Final Evaluation for the NLHF, April 2022