Bridport is a busy market town renowned for its local produce markets and artistic leanings. A market has been held in the town for over one thousand years. The Farmers Market is on the second Saturday of each month and there are also markets on Wednesdays and Saturdays. The annual Bridport Food Festival takes place in June and showcases local and organic produce. Sample some of West Dorset’s finest flavours at this great food festival. Bridport’s local traders and thriving literary and artistic community hold a variety of events throughout the year including the annual Bridport Literary Festival, the Food Festival, the annual Bridport Carnival and the Melplash Agricultural Show.
The town is also the perfect base for exploring West Dorset’s fossil rich Jurassic Coast and rolling inland countryside. West Bay on the coast, which was once known as Bridport Harbour, is just one mile to the south. The Jurassic Coaster X53 bus service stops at Bridport, and runs the full stretch of the Jurassic Coast every two hours from May to the end of September (and every hour between Lyme Regis and Weymouth!).
The Old Palmers Brewery in Bridport has been brewing since 1794 and is the only thatched brewery in the country. Five fine ales are brewed in the original Old Brewery and they are available in pubs across the West Country. Take a tour of the brewery (book online via the website). Tours last around two hours and are available daily from Easter to the end of October, commencing at 11am.
Museum & Rope Making
Discover the history of Bridport at the town’s fascinating museum housed within a 16th century Tudor building. Collections are wide ranging, with exhibitions focusing on everything from local archaeology, geology, natural history and historic costume to fine art and the social and industrial history of the town. The manufacture of rope and netting has always been important in Bridport. The rope industry in the town was first mentioned in a document produced in 1211 under the reign of King John. Rope making in Bridport however is most famously associated with the ‘Bridport Dagger’ – the hangman’s noose, a trade which boomed during the Elizabethan era. Rope manufacture declined in the town after the construction of Chatham Dockyard, but Bridport continues producing rope and netting today. Find out more about the history of this traditional industry at the museum.
Bridport has long celebrated the arts. In 1973 The Bridport Prize International Creative Writing Competition was founded here which has always attracted submissions from all over the country and overseas. Many prize winners have gone on to become household names. The competition is organised by the Arts Centre which is housed within a Wesleyan Chapel and a Georgian schoolhouse dating from 1838, and contains a large theatre hosting drama productions and independent cinema screenings. The Arts Centre also hosts a variety of exhibitions in its three galleries and there is a cafe and bar onsite.
The Melplash Show
The last Thursday before the August Bank Holiday sees one of the biggest agricultural shows in the South West at The West Bay Showgrounds between Bridport and West Bay. The Melplash Show attacts huge numbers of visitors and features horse and livestock competitions and marquees with rural crafts, local produce and a variety of local trade stands.