The former West Bay Methodist Church at West Bay, dating from 1849, is a building with an atmosphere of peace and reflection. Our aim is to restore the chapel and adapt it as an innovative and welcoming Discovery Centre. The Centre will tell the story of West Bay, its harbour, history and development as a tourist resort. It will inspire people with all West Bay has to offer, including the geology, flora, fauna and marine life.
The Centre will incorporate changing displays and interactive elements as well as a small retail space and a local information hub. We will provide interactive experiences for all ages, enabling people to learn about West Bay in a fun way. We’ll send visitors out to explore and discover the surrounding built and natural environment. Challenging them to make their own discoveries and bring them back to the Centre to learn more. Our plans include guided walks and trails, treasure hunts and challenges. We’ll offer visitors prompts, like 50 great things to do in West Bay. All of this will be developed with input from local people and specialists.
The Discovery Centre will be a hub for information, knowledge and exploratory learning. It will act as a classroom base for local schools, youth groups and visiting university students. In particular, we aim to inspire repeat visits and regular interaction as well as resources for families, providing some much-needed wet-weather facilities.
What work is needed?
Although the basic structure of the Chapel is sound, the building is on the “at risk” register. So in the first instance, significant work needs to be done to stabilise and restore the building. The first stage is to lift the floor and replace decaying floor joists before treating and relaying as many of the floor timbers as can be reused. Features added in the 1950/60’s, such as wall cladding and fibreboard will be removed. We will then adapt the building by creating a mezzanine level, office space, kitchen area, storage areas and a staff toilet. Finally, we will fit out the Discovery Centre, including interpretation installations and equipment. The end result will be a building able to provide a modern and welcoming space while at the same time capturing the essence of this historic and atmospheric community building.
We are currently bidding for lottery funds help to take the project forward. We invite and would welcome any offers of support for the project, whether you would like be a volunteer in the finished centre, can offer financial help or would just like to be kept in touch.