Bridport thrived in the 18th century and along the main street is there are many grand structures from that time. During that time it had a strong industry making ropes and nets, as well as a nearby port. It was also a stop on the Trafalgar Way. That was the important coaching route from the South West to London and was used to carry dispatches with the news of the Battle of Trafalgar overland from Falmouth to the Admiralty in London. The railway arrived in 1857 further helping its fortunes.
Bridport is a lovely town full of independent shops and a delightful variety of buildings. Over the last 12 months I had noticed the hoardings up around a large building on East Street with information boards about restoration.
I’ve been a part of Lyme Bay Ladies right from the start. So when I saw that Lisa had arranged a coffee morning at this new venue my curiosity and love of a good coffee with friends lead me there.
The building is called the Bridport Literary and Scientific Institute and held its official re-opening on Friday 27th April. The Grade II* listed building was constructed in 1834 initially as a Mechanics Institute for the education and training of Bridport’s young working men. It has been used for a variety of things including a Red Cross centre, an army quarters and a library. It closed its doors in 1997 and fell into neglect. However thanks to a successful campaign led by the Bridport Area Development Trust, the building has been saved and completely refurbished and rejuvenated.
As usual there was a delightful range of ladies who met in the cavernous coffee shop (called the Alembic café (I had to look this up and it means “two vessels connected by a tube, used for distilling chemicals”. What a great place and as usual a lovely mix of ladies. All there for a chat, a bit of networking if appropriate, catching up with familiar friends and meeting new people.
After coffee we were shown around by the centre manager who explained the history of the building and the facilities. There are very well equipped meeting rooms available for hire, a lovely co-working space that you can hire by the hour (with Wifi and printers) as well as a light and airy covered central courtyard (also available).
What a great asset to Bridport. A beautiful building, a coffee shop and useful spaces that are already being used by a range of individuals, clubs, groups and businesses.
Thank you Lisa for organising a great meet up once again.
8th June 2018
What a great place and as usual a lovely mix of ladiesClare Mackenney