Bombs Fall of Bridport
Tuesday 2 August marks the 80th anniversary of the first bombs falling on the centre of Bridport in 1942. The raids were not directed at the town during the Second World War, but many German aircraft overflew this area en-route to the larger industrial targets of Yeovil and Bristol. On 2 August, one of those planes jettisoned the last of its bombs on Bridport as it was returning to mainland Europe.
Let me take you back..it was a Bank Holiday and many people, local and visitors alike, were enjoying a day out. Those on the beach at West Bay saw two ME 190 planes coming in low over the sea and watched as they dropped two bombs on the town of Bridport. Following this the air raid siren sounded to alert people to the catastrophe unfolding.
The planes circled over Court Orchard and came back over the town firing their machine guns as they flew over East and West Street, hitting the Town Hall Clock and injuring pedestrians.
The first bomb fell in West Street, behind what was then the Star Hotel, demolishing two houses and damaging four more. The blast shattered windows and caused damage all along West Street and South Street.
The centre image on the right shows the front of the bomb damaged Star Hotel.
Four people were killed, three were severely injured and twenty-one were slightly injured.
One of the casualties was Frederick Loosemore Hecks, the son of the licensee of the Star Hotel. was home on leave from the Dorsetshire Regiment. He ran out into the street to see what was happening when the bomb fell. Kate Bowerman was inside the building and was also killed.
The third victim, William Creek, was a visitor to the town; he and his wife and two young daughters were staying with his sister in a flat, next door to the hotel. William was killed, and his youngest daughter Mary suffered a broken thigh and other injuries but survived the blast.
On the opposite side of West Street, Alice Cast was on her way to the Post Office to post a letter to her son.she was injured in the blast and rushed to Bridport Hospital but died later that day from injuries she sustained.
A second bomb fell in Rax Lane, behind the row of shops fronting East Street. No residential buildings were hit, but the blast blew out windows all along the street, causing widespread damage. Elmes – a large haberdashery store, took the full force of the second bomb, which exploded at the rear of the premises. It caused damage to the shop and outbuildings at the rear.
The following account by schoolboy Tony Tiltman is one of several children’s ‘Views of the War” that can be read at the Bridport Museum.
“The air raid came over. I’d been sent down to town by my mother to do some shopping. … I was there outside the old Post Office when the plane came, when the – er – bomb was dropped. And I dived … and I knew the plane because I was in the ATC at the time and I knew the plane, so I dived under the seat that was outside the old Post Office. And the glass from Frost’s window came across and splattered the chair and the wall. And I saw two people killed. The soldier that was on leave, staying at the ‘Star’ – the son. The ‘Star’ I think it was. And he was blown across the other side of the road and was killed by blast, underneath what was Gales Hairdressers. It’s not Gales now, but it was then.
And a lady who was just coming up through the town by the traffic lights, Mrs Cast. She’d just been in the Post Office to post a letter to her son, and she was killed. That’s Keith Cast, Cast, the decorators, used to be in East Street. After that I stayed in town helping to clear up, though Mother wasn’t very pleased when I told her what I did, but what could you do? You had to help out, and that’s what I done, helped to clear up the aftermath.”
A second bombing was to follow later in the same year, bringing grief and sorrow once more to many Bridport families. One result of the damage caused by the second bombing raid is the East Street car park.
Bridport Heritage Forum is marking the deaths of Bridport’s Civilian casualties by recording their stories and planting a memorial tree and rose bushes at Bridport Cemetery – kindly sponsored by Groves Nursery. A service will be held on a date midway between the dates of the two bombings(final details will follow).
My thanks to Sheila Meaney of the Bridport Heritage Forum for bringing this poignant anniversary to my attention and providing the background information.
RNLI – West Bay Raft Race
On Thursday evening the much loved RNLI West Bay Raft Race returned after a two year absence. A total of 15 highly original floating constructions, many entering the water for the first time, took part in the race. As soon as the rafts were in the water the fun began with water pistols, water bombs, buckets being used to spray and soak rivals and spectators alike.
As the start time approached, the rafts paraded around the lagoon before lining up for the race. When all were in place, I blew the horn to set the flotilla of home made rafts up the river and back again to the start line. It was immediately obvious that some of the rafts were more stable and streamlined when the crews on board dug their paddles into the water and set off at a pace, whilst others struggled to coordinate their paddling and get moving!
It wasn’t long before the first of the rafts were heading for the finish line. I am pleased to report that every raft that set off completed the course even if it meant some of the crew getting off and pushing their craft over the line.
The crowds that lined the lagoon and course had been thoroughly entertained and some utterly soaked. In addition they were extremely generous and I saw a good many people putting £5, £10 and even £20 notes into the donations buckets.
The RNLI perform a vital service around our coasts and beaches and thanks to them, many lives have been saved. To find out more about the RNLI and donate to this excellent organisation click HERE.
If you would like to become a volunteer helper at the 5-6 RNLI events at various local locations annually please give Annie Taylor a call on 07790 713156
National Association Local Councils (NALC) Star Council Awards 2022
I was delighted to receive an email announcing that Bridport Town Council is in the final five councils shortlisted for the NALC Star Council Awards 2022 in the Council of the Year category.
These prestigious award, are the only awards in England that recognise local (parish and town) councils’ contributions to their communities. It celebrates the positive impact local councils, councillors, young councillors, clerks and county associations make on their communities.
To find out more about the NALC Star Council Awards click HERE
The Council of the Year category will be decided by a public vote so cast your vote by clicking: VOTE NOW
Bridport Folk Festival
After a two year gap, due to the Covid pandemic, the Bridport Folk Festival returned to streets, green spaces, theatres and pubs across the town. In fact, in any space big enough you were pretty much guaranteed to come across a performance. The three day weekend festival was a roaring success and on Saturday the town was positively heaving with performers and revelers. The images below provide but a small snapshot of the weekend.
I know I am not alone in looking forward to the 2023 Bridport Folk Festival which I am sure will be an even bigger event and an equally great success. My thanks and congratulations to all those involved in putting on such a fantastic event this year.
A week to the day after we were enjoying eating oysters in Bridport’s twin town St Vaast we were walking into town to check out what was happening at the various Folk Festival sites when we spotted a gazebo outside Rise with a sign saying oysters for sale. This was an opportunity not to be missed, and I thought to myself “would the fresh oysters be as good as the ones we had in St Vaast”? The answer is a resounding yes, they tasted every bit as good.
It transpired that the Shuka Calf oysters on sale were from beds in the Fleet near Portland and they were very good indeed.
You can sample them for yourself every Saturday throughout August and I guarantee that oyster lovers won’t be disappointed.
To find out more about the Fleet oyster beds click HERE
Bridport Fashion Revolution
We all wear clothes! Which is a good start, because it means the Bridport Fashion Revolution campaign is relevant to every one of us. But what is the problem with wearing clothes and being fashionable I hear you ask?
Here are just a few of the facts that begin to scratch the surface of why fashion and the clothes we wear are so unsustainable:
- The textile industry produce more emissions than aviation and shipping combined.
- The production models are environmentally damaging every step of the way.
- There is gross over production and over consumption which leads to mass landfill.
- Fast fashion companies make 10 garments and if they only sell one they will still be in profit, so can afford to bin the rest.
- The UK buys more clothes than any other European Country and still only 1% gets recycled.
If things don’t change fast, the fashion industry could use a quarter of the world’s remaining global carbon budget to keep warming under 2℃ by 2050, and use 35% more land to produce fibres by 2030.
What would that change look like? It would mean each of us reducing how many new clothes we buy by as much as 75%, each of us buying clothes designed to last, and recycling clothes at the end of their lifetime.
By doubling the length of time we wear our clothes, the fashion industry generated greenhouse emissions would be cut by 44%.
The European Environmental Bureau has declared 2022, the year that we start making our wardrobes more environmentally sustainable, by aiming to cut how many new clothes we buy by 75%.
Speaking to Lesley Windsor of the Bridport Fashion Revolution she told me about the outfit she happened to wearing, “I bought these long shorts!! last year and I was really cross when walking the dog I got them caught and they have a hole. I was so excited to come across this linen shirt, in one of my favourite colours, in a charity shop but it now needs a patch up under the arm.”
She went on to say, “I could bin these clothes and buy some new or I could take them to the ‘Sewing for Revolutionists’ workshop in the Lyric Theatre, on Sunday 31July.”
The Sewing for Revolutionists is just one of the events that is happening at the Lyric Theatre sustainable fashion hub from 30 July to 4 Aug.
To find out more about the Bridport Fashion Revolution click HERE
Bridport’s Record Breaking Mural
The latest addition to Bridport’s burgeoning reputation for public art is a 110m mural along the wall of the Football Club Car Park. If you haven’t seen it yet, please do pay a visit – it’s truly fantastic and has been overwhelmingly welcomed. This is a joint project, involving Bridport Arts Centre, BTC, and about 14 artists and young people. Dorset Council also provided grant funding.
The lead artists are Marina Renee-Cemmick and Jo Burlington, and the design, a reimagining of Bridport, involved students from Colfox, and two of the graffiti ‘taggers’ whose work was already on the wall!
Whilst taking the images that accompany this item I took the opportunity to ask passers by what they thought of it. The unanimous response from the 20 plus locals and visitors of all ages was a resounding thumbs up. One of the people I spoke to, Imi Neylan, just happened to be one of the artists involved and she told me that she was thrilled that the poem she had written was threaded through the mural.
Apparently it is the longest mural in the UK at 110m, surpassing the previous record of 108m in Doncaster. Huge thanks to Bridport Town Council’s Dave Dixon and the artists listed on the image below for seeing this project through to fruition.
And Finally – This Weeks Magic Tenner Business Focus
Opal – South Street
Businesses working with or supplying: Waste Not Want Not, Fruits of the Earth, Naturalife, Footeprints, Chilli by the Sea, Greg and Allen Mechanics, The Woodman, Café Bean, Bella’s, Mel Garner Building and more
Discount Furniture Store – St Michael’s Trading Est.
Businesses working with or supplying: Longs, Footeprints, Bridport Car Repair Centre, Rawles, Lavendar Blue, The Tiger Inn, Animal House, Groves, Steptoes, Cilla & Camilla, Framptons, Washingpool Farm, MDS Meats, Bridport Aquatics, Bridport Upholstery, The Green Yard Café and more
Footeprints – East Street
Businesses working with or supplying: Bridget’s Market, Ride, The George, Punch & Judy, Leakers, Dark Bear, Dave Hawkins, Bridport Tyres, Hair by David, Gunz, Bridport Timber, Bridport Building, CHG, Bella’s, Smith & Smith, The Bookshop, and more.