Bridport, Dorset
Jurassic Heritage Coast
Bridport, Dorset

Bridport


Saturday, 25th March 2017, 9:38am

Dorset, UK


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Important History Dates For Bridport


Late 9th
Century
A 'Burh' fortification was set up to protect Bridport from Danish invasion.
978-1087 Bridport had its own mint and was taxed at the same rate as much larger towns, implying it had been an important and established town for some time.
1086 Evidence of a church belonging to St Wandrille's Abbey and possibly the antecedent of St Mary's Church in South Street.
1135-1154 King Stephen stormed the town during the troubles of his reign and received the submission of the ‘Castellan’.
1150 The Keeper of Bridport Castle, now loyal to King Stephen, was taken prisoner by the future King of England, Henry II.
1189 The Pipe Roll, during the reign of King Richard, referred to Bridport as having Borough status.
1201 & 1204 King John, who frequently hunted in Powerstock Forest, visited Bridport and in 1204 this hospitality cost the town 50/9d.
1211 King John commissioned, according to 'Bridport weight', to produce ships' ropes and cables, due to the imminent war with France.
1213 King John ordered that there be 'made at Bridport by night and day, as many ropes for ships both large and small as they could'.
1232 St Mary Magdalen Hospital for Lepers in Allington was founded by the de Leyes or de Leghs family.
1240 It was documented that by this date, there existed a hospital of St John the Baptist and Chapel at East Bridge (eastern end of East Street on the current site of the Masonic Hall).
1253 On 22nd June, Bridport was granted its borough charter by Queen Eleanor, the wife of Henry III, headed by two annually elected bailiffs. The Charter was obtained principally by Giles de Bridport.
1260 St Andrew's Chapel was built just outside the Bridport town boundary (current location of the Town Hall). It was probably built for the Carmelite friars. The Chapel contained a lock-up or Bocardo, the origins of Bucky Doo.
1265 Carmelite friars (known as 'white friars') settled and preached in Bridport for the next 100 years.
1272 Records indicate that the River Brit was navigable as far as Bridport at high tide by small flat bottomed ships.
1278 During the reign of King Edward I, first recorded evidence of twice weekly markets being held on Wednesdays and Saturdays.
1280 Bridport claimed all rights to sea wrecks on the beaches.
1288 Bridport claimed rights to 'Take tolls from all Ships'.
13th
Century
East Street and West Street were added at the northern end of the town's South Street, probably developed from the old Dorchester to Exeter Roman route.
13th
Century
Earliest evidence of the construction of a church on the site of St Mary's in South Street.
13th
Century
The Chantry, near the bottom of South Street was built and probably used as a beacon tower for ships at sea. Its construction was possibly on the site of the timber constructed Bridport Castle.
13th
Century
References to a site called Castlehay were recorded. Possibly referring to a Bridport Castle? Now known as the site of the Old Castle and Bridport Museum.
1307 A toll house was built on the northern side at the junction of East Street and West Street. The toll house was later to be named the Guildhall and used as a council chamber and local court.
1317 The first incumbent of the Parish of Bridport, 'Peter of Collitone' or 'Peter de Colyngton' was recorded. This was the first recorded priest of St Mary's Church.
14th
Century
A Coaching Inn and Tavern was built in East Street, the building being renamed 'The Greyhound' during the 17th Century.
1348 & 1361 Bridport together with most towns in Dorset, Devon and Somerset suffered terrible outbreaks of the Black Death.
1365 Sir John Chideock failed to secure land in Bridport to build a friary, so the friars, including the Carmelites, left the area.
1369 The Chantry building was converted into a priest's house.
1395 Bridport was represented in Parliament by 2 MP's.
15th
Century
Various further additions were made to St Mary's Church in South Street.
15th
Century
Hemp boiling mill (for rope making) constructed along West Street, replaced in 19th Century by West Mill.
1450 House and barn built in South Street, to become the Friends Meeting House (Quakers) in 1697.
1483 On 5th November, King Richard III stayed overnight in Bridport, probably at St John the Baptist and Chapel at East Bridge. He was on his way to Exeter to deal with the remnants of the rebellion led by the Duke of Buckingham.
16th
Century
A second Coaching Inn, 'The Bull', was built further along East Steet.
1530 An Act of Parliament prohibited anyone living within five miles of Bridport from making rope.
1535 According to the Institute for Family Business, John Balson opened a market stall in South Street. Then operating at a shop in West Allington from 1880, this makes Balson Butchers the oldest continuously trading family business in Britain.
1554 Elizabeth I confirmed the right for Bridport to hold a twice weekly market and three annual fairs.
1593 Markett House and Scole built in the middle of the junction of East, West and South Streets. Housed butcher shops and a school room. Became known locally as The Shambles.
Late 16th
Century
The Old Castle (Castlehay) in South Street was built in early Jacobean style, now the Bridport Museum. It is believed that it may possibly occupy the original site of Bridport Castle.
1619 James I incorporated Bridport by granting a mayor and corporation.
1623 Bridport was granted its 'Coat of Arms'.
1625 The plague reached Bridport.
1651 Charles II was almost captured by troops at the 'Old George Inn' in East Street (now the Cancer Research charity shop) after his defeat from Oliver Cromwell at the Battle of Worcester.
1667 Charles II granted Bridport a new charter, under which the town was governed until 1835.
1685 The Duke of Monmouth's first conflict occurred at the 'Bull Inn' in East Street during his failed attempt to overthrow his uncle, James II from the throne.
1697 The Friends Meeting House (Quakers) in South Street was formed. The former house and barn were given to the Friends by Daniel Taylor, owner of the Bull Inn.
Mid 18th
Century
There were around 30 licensed public (beer) houses in Bridport.
1746 Chapel built in Stake Lane (Barrack Street), later to become a Temperance Hall, a Liberal Hall, Electric Palace Cinema then the Lyric Theatre.
1768 The Dissenters Academy was built in East Street, later to become the Bridge House Hotel.
1769 The Marquis of Granby Inn was built on the former site of St John the Baptist Hospital and Chapel in East Street, later to become the Masonic Hall.
1782 The Markett House was destroyed by fire and the Guildhall (council chamber and local court) was badly damaged. Both were demolished.
1785 Act of Parliament passed for building a Town Hall, better cleansing, paving and prohibiting any new buildings from being roofed with thatch.
1785 At the junction of East Street and South Street, St Andrew's Chapel was demolished to make way for the new Town Hall.
1786 Completion of Bridport's Grade I listed Georgian Town Hall and Market House, at a cost of almost £3,000.
1788 Completion of the octagonal shaped Corne & Greene Market building in South Street behind the new Town Hall. Converted in 1902 to house the town's Fire Engine, then demolished in 1946, the area becoming known as Bucky Doo Square.
1789 Downe Hall, a large mansion sitting on the side of Coneygar Hill, was built for William Downe.
1794 Mountfield, the current location of Bridport's council offices, was built for William Downe.
1794 The Chapel in the Garden, a Unitarian Church, was built along East Street.
1794 Wykes Court was built around this time for the manufacture of sailcloth, net and twine by William Fowler, later by William Hounsell & Co. Now the site of a public car park.
1794 A brewery was set up by Samuel Gundry at the bottom of South Street, later to become Palmers.
1795 Barracks were built to house troups due to the threat of a Napoleonic invasion. Location was at Stake Lane, renamed Barrack Street, this being the origins of the street's current name.
1796 Fire destroyed 24 houses, including two public houses, the Ship and White Lion.
1800 The principal coaching inns for Bridport were The Bull and The Golden Lion.
1805 Doctor Giles L. Roberts, a Methodist and apothecist in Bridport, bought the 'Old George Inn' and set up a pharmacy to produce a widely used ointment called the 'Poor Man's Friend'.
1805 Lieutenant Laponetiere changed horses at The Bull Inn on his journey from Falmouth to London with news of England's victory at the Battle of Trafalgar.
1806 A cupola and clock were added to the Town Hall.
1809 The Grove Iron Works was converted from a boiling mill.
1816 On 2nd September, the Government (Commissioners for the Affairs of Barracks) sold land, wooden huts and other particulars in Barrack Street. The sale would have been due to the diminishing threat of a Napoleonic invasion and probably accounts for the origins of the street's name.
1819 A smallpox epidemic spread through Bridport, killing 26 people.
1830 The Grove, at the top of Rax Lane, was built for James Templer.
1831 Gas street lighting arrived at Bridport, provided by the Bridport Gas & Coke Company, from gas works near the bottom end of South Street.
1832 Cholera outbreak kills 19 people.
1834 The Literary and Scientific Institute was built in East Street. Fra Newbery was a pupil and teacher at this School of Art.
1834 The Poor Law Union for Bridport was formed (by reorganising parishes into unions) to provide a form of welfare state, with its guardians being magistrates and JP's (justices of the peace).
1834 The Union Workhouse opened in Barrack Street, housing 200 inmates or paupers who work in return for food and accommodation.
1834 Thomas Beach and John Barnicott took over Dr Giles Roberts' pharmacy and continued to produce the 'Poor Man's Friend' ointment.
1835 Asker Mills built as weaving shop and bleaching works.
1835 Bridport's governing body had been the 'Bailiffs and Burgesses of the Borough of Bridport'. Due to the introduction of the Municipal Corporations Act (Municipal Reform Act), Bridport became known as 'Bridport Municipal Borough Council'.
1837 Parish boundary changes. West Bay, previously shared between the parishes of Symondsbury, Burton Bradstock and Bothenhampton, now came under the control of Bridport Municipal Borough Council.
1838 A Wesleyan Methodist Chapel was built along South Street, now the home of Bridport Arts Centre.
1840s Various proposals put forward to link Bridport by railway to a main line.
Late
1840s
A hide and skin yard was built at New Zealand (east of South Street) later to be sold to Thomas Tucker & Co. for a net making factory.
1849 The Bull Inn was sold to the Knight family, refurbished and remained in the family for 110 years.
1850 The Boys' General School was established on a site at Killingham, at the corner of King Street and Folly Mill Lane.
1851 Various Tanneries were built around this time, including the 'Britside' by Thomas Ewens Biddlecombe, now the location of the Coach and Bus Station.
1855 A girls and infant school was added on the site of the boys' school at the corner of King Street and Folly Mill Lane.
1855 The necessary Act of Parliament was passed on 5th May to build a railway to link Bridport to Maiden Newton.
1855 The Bridport News, local newspaper was established at 34 West Street.
1856 Bridport Cemetery was opened in Lower Walditch Lane, off East Road.
1857 On 12th November, The Bridport Railway Company opened its rail link.
1860 The United Church in East Street was built on the old site of The Crown Public House.
1865 Bridport Police Station was located in South Street, later to become the Fire Station and currently the Library.
1866 The Drill Hall in St Michael's Lane was built for the 1st Dorset Rifle Volunteers Regiment 'A' Company.
1868 The number of MP's representing Bridport was reduced to 1.
1870 St Thomas's Hospital at Allington, known locally as 'Tommy's' opened.
1872 A water company was formed to supply piped water throughout Bridport from works at Litton Cheney.
1874 The railway link from Bridport to Maiden Newton was converted from broad gauge to standard gauge during the period of 18th to 22nd June.
1875 A drainage / sewerage system was constructed to link all buildings in Bridport and piped out to sea at West Bay.
1875 The Poor Law Union for Bridport (formed in 1834), became the Bridport Sanitary District Council under the Public Health Act of 1873.
1876 The Old Castle (current location of Bridport Museum) was seriously damaged by fire.
1879 The Temperance Movement arrived in Bridport, opening the Bridport Coffee Tavern / Hotel at 3 East Street, opposite the Town Hall.
1879 A water wheel was added to the brewery in South Street.
1879 Act of Parliament was passed to extend the Bridport Railway down to Bridport Harbour.
1884 A new railway station at Bridport was opened, called East Street and the railway opened its services to Bridport Harbour (West Bay) on 31st March.
1884 In response to the renaming of Bridport Harbour to West Bay, Harbour Road linking South Street to the harbour was renamed 'West Bay Road'.
1885 Bridport lost all representation in Parliament.
1885 On 7th October, Bridport Football Club was formed by a group of members from the town's cricket and lawn tennis clubs.
1888 A trust was created, stating that when the Dorset Rifle 'A' Company were not using Drill Hall in St Michael's Lane, the hall could be used by the town as the mayor decided.
1894 The Bridport Rural District Council was created due to the Local Government Act of 1894, from the Bridport Sanitary District Council formation in 1875 and amalgamation of other local district councils.
1896 The Palmer family bought Samuel Gundry's brewery, now the only thatched brewery in England.
1897 A voluntary Fire Brigade Service was formed.
1898 Hospital for Infectious Diseases opened in Allington.
1902 A horse-drawn Fire Engine with Merryweather & Sons Steam Pump 'Greenwich Gem' was housed behind the Town Hall in the Corne & Greene Market building. Bought to commemorate the coronation of King George VII.
1902 The Post Office was built on the site of the old cattle market, on the corner of West Street and Victoria Grove.
1903 The cattle market was moved to St Michaels Lane.
1903 Local magistrates were given sufficient powers to force the closure of unruly public houses.
1903 Palmers shut 4 beer houses in South Street, buying up houses either side of existing outlets to avoid further complaints.
1911 First evidence of a summer carnival being held in Bridport. However, by 1920 the event had been abandoned.
1912 The Electric Palace Cinema opened in Barrack Street, the hall previously used as headquarters of the Royal Field Artillery and later, the Lyric Theatre.
1914 The Union Workhouse in Barrack Street became an institute for the 'Mentally Defective'.
1915 King of Prussia pub in East Street (named in the mid 18th Century after Frederick the Great) was renamed 'King of the Belgians', due to the number of Belgians in Bridport working for the war effort.
1915 Bridport General Hospital opened in Park Road, North Allington, on the site of the old isolation hospital.
1916 Steel wire anti-submarine nets were manufactured in Bridport during the First World War.
1926 The Electric Palace Cinema in Barrack Street was moved to South Street and opened as the Electric Palace on 14th June, accommodating 400 people on the ground floor plus 100 in the circle.
1930 Mains electricity arrived through the foundation of the Bridport Borough Electricity Undertaking. The power station was at Fulbrooks Lane, off St Swithins Road.
1931 The Askers Road House Hotel opened on the north side of the A35 near Askerswell. It was destroyed by fire during the 1960's.
1932 On 28th May, the Old Castle was donated to Bridport Borough Council by Captain Codd for use as a museum and art gallery.
1932 Bridport Borough Council purchased Eype Beach, primarily to protect it from gravel extraction.
1934 In December, the Lyric Theatre in Barrack Street opened as a modern cinema. Previously the building had been the Liberal Hall and Palace Cinema (built in 1746 as a chapel).
1935 In May, automatic traffic lights were installed next to the Town Hall, to control the flow of vehicles at the junction of South, East and West Street.
1937 Ground floor of the Town Hall was modified to incorporate public conveniences.
1940 King of the Belgians pub in East Street had a second name change, this time to the 'Lord Nelson'.
1946 The building behind the Town Hall, originally a Corne & Greene Market, then the Fire Station, was demolished to make way for a Hackney Carriage stand. Area is now known as Bucky Doo Square.
1946 The Fire Station was transferred further along South Street to the Police Station (currently Bridport Library).
1946 The Police Station was transferred from South Street to the junction of Barrack Street and St Andrews Road (Peelers Court).
1947 Bridport Rotary Club started on 13th August.
1948 The Union Workhouse building in Barrack Street became a geriatric hospital and renamed 'Port Bredy Hospital'. It was eventually converted into residential apartments.
1949 The Bridport & District Co-operative Society opened its self service 'supermarket' with the 'Divi', at 29 South Street. Now the site of Folly Mill Lodge.
1953 To celebrate the 7th Centenary (700 years) of Bridport's Royal Charter (1253) and the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, Princess Margaret visited the town.
1957 Britside tannery demolished to make way for a coach and bus station.
1958 The gas works in South Street were closed down and later demolished.
1959 Diesel locomotives replace steam engines on the Bridport Railway.
1959 Coach and bus station opened on old site of Britside Tannery (behind West Street).
1960 Bridport's Merryweather & Sons fire engine of 1902 was discovered in a Birmingham scrap merchant's yard. It was refurbished and is currently on display at Highlands End Holiday Park.
1960 In June, fire destroyed St Michael's Foundry, including a garage and engineering workshop.
1961 The cattle market in St Michael's Lane was closed.
1962 Bridport's Lyric (Cinema) Theatre in Barrack Street was closed down. Later it became the location of the Bernard Gale School of Dancing (Lyric Studios).
1963/64 The Beatles pop group stayed at the Askers Road House Hotel near Askerswell, between performing at Bournemouth and Exeter. The hotel was destroyed by fire later during the 1960's.
1966 Bridport supplied the goal nets for England's football World Cup victory at Wembley Stadium.
1971 Bridport Carnival was resurrected from its earlier failings during the First World War.
1971 The Lyric Theatre in Barrack Street opened as the Bernard Gale School of Dancing.
1972 Bridport was designated a 'Conservation Area'.
1973 Bridport Arts Centre opened in South Street, in the old Methadist Chapel.
1974 Due to the Local Government Act of 1972, on 1st April, West Dorset District Council was formed from the Bridport Rural District Council and took over the running of various Bridport Municipal Borough Council responsibilities and properties.
1974 Following local government reorganisation, Bridport Municipal Borough Council was replaced by Bridport Town Council.
1974 Bridport Town Council offices were relocated from the Town Hall to Mountfield, at the top of Rax Lane. The Magistrates' Court was moved to a new building next to Mountfield.
1974 Running of Bridport Museum was handed over to West Dorset District Council as part of the reorganisation of Bridport Municipal Borough Council to Bridport Town Council.
1975 The Bridport to Maiden Newton rail link closed on 5th May.
1979 Serious flooding in large areas of Bridport, including St Michaels Trading Estate, parts of West Street and South Street.
1980 Due to regular flooding of the River Brit to the east of South Street, the river's course was straightened between the Bridport Brewery and St Mary's Church.
1984 Drill Hall, a listed building in St Michaels Lane was demolished to make way for a public car park. The 1st Volunteer Battalion Dorsetshire Regiment (A Co.) had been based there.
1987 On 19th July, the River Brit Viaduct was opened as part of the new A35 Bridport Bypass.
1987 In September, Bridport Leisure Centre was opened on land donated by Palmers Brewery.
1988 The Star Petrol Garage and Showroom at 70 East Street was demolished and replaced by Homebredy House, a complex of 37 retirement flats and houses.
1993 Bridport Community Hospital was built on the site of the Hospital for Infectious Diseases in Allington.
1993 Waste landfill site at Bothenhampton was closed.
1995 Although the passage between Bridport Town Hall and the Greyhound Hotel had been known as Bucky Doo for centuries, the area behind the Town Hall only became known as Bucky Doo Square from around this time.
1995 Fire Station relocated from South Street (now Bridport Library) to purpose built premises at Sea Road South.
1996 Downe Hall at Coneygar Hill was sold off for conversion into apartments.
1996 Octagonal obelisk with seating constucted in Bucky Doo Square by Bridport Town Council, to commemorate the important heritage and landmarks of Bridport.
1996 The geriatric hospital 'Port Bredy' in Barrack Street, formally the Union Workhouse, was closed down. Work started to convert into residential apartments.
1997 Bridport Library transferred to South Street. The building's original stone facade was restored from having been the local Fire Station. The library's previous location was at the Literary and Scientific Institute in East Street.
1998 Temporary recycling centre was opened in South Street, to replace a previous facility in Bothenhampton.
1999 The Electric Palace was closed, through competition from video and tv.
2000 Port Bredy Hospital in Barrack Street which closed in 1996, opened as residential apartments.
2001 In January, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall (River Cottage tv chef) married his partner, Marie at a quiet ceremony in Bridport Register Office, Mountfield. They were planning a honeymoon later in the month.
2001 On 30th May, the Millennium Green, just north of Rax Lane, was officially opened by H. R. H. Duchess of Gloucester.
2002 The old Co-op at 29 South Street was closed down and rebuilt as retirement apartments - Folly Mill Lodge. A new larger Co-op opened along Sea Road North.
2002 West Mead Hotel in West Allington, demolished to make way for a housing estate.
2002 In November, West Dorset District Council handed over the running of Bridport Museum and Local History Centre to the newly formed Bridport Museum Trust.
2003 The Police Station in St Andrews Road was redeveloped into retirement apartments - Peelers Court.
2003 Bridport Police Station was relocated to Tannery Road.
2004 In April, Folly Mill Lodge in South Street was opened as retirement apartments and two self contained shops.
2005 The Bull was dedicated as part of the New Trafalgar Way and bears a plaque to commemorate its role at the time of the Battle of Trafalgar.
2006 On Wednesday, 23rd August, Bridport hit the national press headlines when 3 girls were stabbed in a frenzied attack as they disembarked from a bus in East Street. A Bridport man was later arrested in Surrey.
2007 In March, national newspapers The Observer, followed by the Daily Telegraph referred to Bridport as Notting Hill on Sea in various articles describing its increasing house prices.
2007 Bridport Medical Centre opened on 22nd June, at West Allington.
2007 The Electric Palace was refurbished and re-opened.
2010 The old Bridport Railway goods shed at Bradpole, previously used as a warehouse for a builders' merchants, was demolished for a new supermarket in St Andrew's Road. Lidl opened in November.
2010 The first Bridport Hats Festival took place in September, to become an annual event. This was the brainchild of Roger Snook, proprietor of Snooks the Hatters in West Street.
2011 The Lyric Theatre in Barrack Street, after closing as the Bernard Gale School of Dancing in 2006, reopened as an artist venue and Stuff and Nonsense Theatre Company.
2012 In January, after undergoing a major refurbishment, the Bridport Town Hall reopened.
2012 On 7th July, one month's rain fell on West Dorset in 24 hours, causing the rivers Brit and Asker to burst their banks. Flooding occurred at West Street, South Street, East Road and Asker Meadows.
2012 On 12th July starting at 2:46pm, the Olympic Torch came through Bridport, greeted by many hundreds of people lining the streets of East Road, East Street, West Street and West Road.
2015 On 1st October, a new Waste Transfer Station costing £9million opened at Broomhill's Farm on the A35 with modern recycling facilities to replace the temporary recycling centre in South Street.
** Taking the suburbs of Allington, Bradpole and West Bay into account, there have been more than 80 different licensed public houses over the years in Bridport, of which only about 20 remain today.

History records have been sourced from various locations including:
Local History Centre, The Coach House, Gundry Lane, Bridport, Dorset.
& Bridport News

Note that some dates are approximate / unconfirmed.