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It’s all about Rain, MUGAs, Murals, Musicals, Court Leets, and Matting this week

It’s all about Rain, MUGAs, Murals, Musicals, Court Leets, and Matting this week August 20, 2022

Didn’t it Rain?

Our long dry summer finally came to an sudden end on Tuesday with a torrential downpour that caused several parts of the town to flood. Whilst gardeners and farmers had been desperate to have their fields and plots watered this was not what they needed. The downpour such as the one we experienced on Tuesday afternoon, falling on hard baked ground,  may have provided up to three inches of much needed water but it simply ran off before it could soak in and do some real good. The result of some of the local impact of this deluge and surface runoff can be seen in the images below.


Many of you will be aware that our high street Post office was also inundated during the storm and as a consequence has been forced to close for several days inorder to carryout the cleaning up operation. It is expected to be back to ‘normal’ on Monday. Click HERE to see what happened.

The damage caused to property by flooding can be extremely serious and soul destroying for anyone who find themselves in that position. The water may rise and fall quickly but its impact can take months to make good. It is only over the coming days that the full impact of this particular deluge will become clear. My thanks to the Bridport Fire Crew and the Town Council’s Outdoor Team for the rapid responses they made on the day.

When someone said to me “Didn’t it Rain?” it brought to mind a wonderful piece of film of Sister Rosetta Tharpe singing a song of the same title on a windswept disused railway station in 1964. A pioneer in so many ways she deserves to be much better known. Click HERE to watch the film.

Wareham Civic Day

Last Friday, the Mayor of Wareham, Malcolm Russell welcomed Mayors and Civic Leaders from across Dorset to his Civic Day. We assembled at the Wareham Town Hall where light refreshments, including locally made award winning sausage rolls, were served.

From the Town Hall we walked to the Priory Church of St Mary which is of Anglo Saxon origin. The church is notable as the possible burial place of King Beorhtric (King of Wessex from 786 to 802) and for the discovery of five stones with Brittonic inscriptions dating to the 7th to 9th centuries. A notable feature is the unique hexagonal lead font dating to around 1200. I was particularly taken by the stained glass in the west window, very modern and very beautiful. On 7 May 1952 the church was officially designated as a Grade I listed building.


We then walked through the town to St Martin on the Walls Church. Another Grade 1 listed building and scheduled ancient monument. It is the most complete Anglo-Saxon church in Dorset. The interior has mostly plain white walls but it has 12th century frescoes of St Martin cutting his cloak in two to give to a beggar, the 18th century Royal Coat of Arms over the chancel arch and other wall painted images and text that are the stars of this lovely little chapel. In addition the church has the tomb of T.E. Lawrence who lived nearby but is buried in Moreton churchyard. His monument was designed for St Paul’s cathedral but was rejected because Lawrence is shown in Arab dress.

We then set off to meet the Wareham Court Leet and what an absolutely fascinating meeting it was.
Wareham Court Leet is one of only 30 surviving from medieval times; the Court was founded to regulate local trade and ensure that high standards of trade were maintained in the town. At the head of Wareham’s Court Leet is ‘Lord of the Manor’, Mr J D C Ryder, who succeeded his father to the title in 1986; his father had held the title for the previous 58 years. Three Court officers are nominated by the Lord of the Manor and report directly to him. These are the ‘Steward’ – his right hand man; the ‘Hayward’ – who looks after the ‘common land’ and the ‘Bailiff’ appointed to hand out arrests and summonses.

We were treated to a special one off Court Leet session, it usually meets during late November evenings, when officials are led by the Bailiff and Bell Ringer, roam around the town wearing hats and formal dress. The Court consists of over 20 people and their job is to inspect local businesses, checking for transgressions such as short measures or poor hygiene, armed with the tools of their trade including antiquated scales, a chimney brush and  tankards.

During our time with the Court Leet the Aletasters checked that the brew at The Antelope was of the correct strength and temperature from behind the bar. The Bailiff, followed by the jurors, taste the offering before it’s passed around to the crowd in the Common Measure Pot. The Bread Weighers ensured that the loaves were of sufficient quality and substance using their balancing scales. The Carniter inspected some uncooked steak brought in from a local butcher for freshness, then cooked it up and passed it around for tasting. The Leather Sealer checked a belt for quality and stamped it. The Chimney Peepers inspected the fireplaces and flues to ensure there are no future conflagrations in town. The Scavengers, assisted by Anne, checked the toilet facilities at The Duke of Wellington for cleanliness to guard against the spread of disease. The images below attempt to capture what was an absolutely fabulous experience with much laughter throughout.

During the November session of the Court Leet fines may be issued to the landlord for rule breaking or to the public for misbehaviour such as talking over the Bailiff – fines consist usually of measures to be added to the Common Pot, which becomes increasingly strong as the fines are added, and the Constables ensure that law and order prevail. Be aware that if you empty the Common Pot, you will be expected to fill it up again…! Two pubs are usually inspected each night, ending with a song from the whole group.

On the Friday of Court Leet week in November, the Court sits at the Town Hall, beginning with the striking of thirteen on the Town Hall clock, upon which the Jurors and Officials enter the courtroom. The officials give the results of their inspections to the Lord of the Manor and discuss matters arising from the previous twelve months, with a long lunch break from 1pm until 3pm at the Red Lion, and the election of the Officers for the following year in the second session.

Wareham is a lovely town, very similar to Bridport in many ways, and well worth getting to know. A visit in late November when the Court Leet is in session is highly recommended.

West Bay Beach Matting Installed

A community project funded by Bridport Town Council has brought 100m2 of accessible matting to West Bay. West Beach in West Bay is now wheelchair-accessible following the installation of rigid walkways on 12 August.  A passionate plea from local resident Elaine Leader at a meeting in March led town councillors to approve the idea, and after permission was granted earlier this month, the Council purchased 100m2 of durable plastic matting to be laid at the beach.

West Bay Harbour Master James Radcliffe and his team promptly installed the matting as a network of paths, which will remain in place throughout the visitor season.

The early feedback from both residents and visitors about the matting has been extremely positive, which seems to indicate a genuine sense of freedom and equality from people who haven’t been able to enjoy the beach until now.

I am so grateful to Elaine Leader for her determination, and to others like Neil Barnes who have campaigned for this provision. I would also like to thank the Harbour Master and his team for their work in laying the matting.

Cllr Kelvin Clayton, Chair of the Town Council’s Environment & Social Wellbeing Committee, said “I’d like to thank my fellow committee members for being so receptive to Elaine’s request, which she had backed up with research.  We’re very pleased that the matting is now installed, and we’re now keen to look at extending access further with all-terrain wheelchairs.” 

The matting, purchased by the Town Council at a cost of £3,500, is modular and further development is possible.  Town Clerk Will Austin said “We managed to obtain some external funding from Dorset Coast Forum that has really helped, and once we can identify further finance we can look at additional matting, and ‘beach wheelchairs’ for hire.  These could enable users to move off the path and to enjoy the sea.”

Multi Use Games Area

What a pleasure it was on Saturday morning to officially reopen Bridport’s Multi Use Games Area (MUGA) following its recent makeover. The MUGA, affectionately known locally as the Cage, is a multipurpose facility designed to incorporate sports such as tennis, netball, basketball, football, and potentially many other sports all into one surface. It enables people to essentially play all of those sports, at different times, on one facility.

The playing surface has had a makeover and it now looks absolutely stunning marked out in vibrant pink and blue, thanks to competition winner Jaden Brook’s winning design. The cost of the makeover has been met by Bridport Town Council and the work to complete the makeover was carried out by members Craig and Kate Sorrell, Emily Carr and Neil Grey.

Basketball in Bridport is a fast growing sport and local club Bridport Evolution now has more than 70 players registered. To celebrate the reopening of the MUGA Bridport Evolution hosted a mini tournament with music and refreshments.

It is around 50 years since I last played a serious game of basketball during my student days. But when a ball was bounced towards me I couldn’t resist having a go once again for old times sake. After a few bounces of the ball I set off towards the hoop ready to show those watching I still had it – sadly I failed to score with my first effort but my second went in! As I stepped away pleased as punch with my performance the youngsters took over and showed me how it should be done. To say I was really impressed by the skills and quality of play on display is an understatement.

Thank you to all those who have been a part of the makeover project and to everyone who came on Saturday to help, take part and support the celebratory mini tournament.

Anything Goes

Anyone lucky enough to have managed to get a ticket for the sell out perfomances of Anything Goes by the Bridport Musical Theatre Company has been treated to an outstanding evenings entertainment. Anne and I were fortunate enough to go along on the second night of five plus a matine performance on Saturday afternoon.

It was great to see the Bridsport Musical Theatre Company back on stage once again after a pandemic enforced absence. The performance was a revamp of this much loved musical with music and lyrics by Cole Porter. The story concerns madcap antics aboard an ocean liner bound from New York to London.

The revised version has a new ‘jazzier’ score which provided Choreographer Rebecca Mather with an opportunity to be creative with the choreography and boy was it creative. I was amazed how the cast managed to keep going during the extended final set piece tap dance routine before the break on such an extremely warm evening.

The set and costumes designed by Melanie Draper were both of the highest order, in fact everything about the production was absolutely outstanding. We are truly blessed in Bridport with so many gifted and talented people and audiences keen to support them. To cap it all what better venue to stage it in than the beautiful Electric Palace.

All in all the performance was a triumph and Director/Producer Dave Swaffield, the cast and crew earned a thoroughly deserved ovation at the end.

Plottingham Ambulance Station Mural

More public art, this time working with the Lyric Theatre and Rosie Russell to add some vibrant colour and beautiful artwork to the Ambulance Station at Plottingham. Many thanks to them and to Daryl Chambers, David Dixon and Caroline Pearce who all had a hand in making it happen.

This was in addition to the volunteer effort to ‘heal the wall’ at the Football Club, responding positively to the ‘tagging’ incident. Town Clerk Will Austin and I will be engaging with the street art community soon to explore how we can ensure respect for community art works, alongside options to enable the type of graffiti that appeared on the mural, but in areas that don’t undermine the work of others.

Bridport Carnival Week

Carnival Royalty Crowned

Carnival week got off to a great start on Monday afternoon outside the Arts Centre with the crowning of the Carnival Princess – Willow Jeffrey, Prince – Oliver Barnett and their attendants Maisie Grace Loveless and Millie Frampton.

I am now looking forward to the return of the Carnival and the Torchlight Procession this weekend after an absence of two years.
The Carnival

This Saturday the Bridport Carnival procession will line up on West Road, West Allington and moves off at 6.45pm followed by music in Bucky Doo Square.

Please note that the following road closures will be in place:

  • West Allington in its entirety from 4pm to 8pm.
  • Part of West Road, from the access road to Symondsbury Estate to West Allington from 4pm to 8pm.
  • West Street in its entirety from 6.30pm to 9.30pm.
  • Part of South Street from its junction with West Street to its junction with Gundry Lane from 6.30pm to 24:00midnight.
  • All the rest of South Street from 6.30pm to 9.30pm.

The Torchlight Procession 

This Sunday torches will be on sale from 6pm at Bucky Doo Square.

The procession will start at 9pm from South Street, Bridport and will end at West Bay. The fireworks display will take place at West Bay at 10pm.

Please note that the following road closures will be in place:

  • South Street from its junction with West Street to its junction with Gundry Lane from 8pm to 10.30pm.
  • South Street from its junction with Gundry Lane to its junction with West Bay Road from 8.45pm to 10.30pm.
  • West Bay Road from its junction with South Street to the Crown Roundabout from 8.45pm to 10.30pm.
  • West Bay Road from the Crown Roundabout to its junction with Station Road from 9pm to 10.30pm.
  • Station Road in its entirety from 9pm to 11.30pm.

And Finally – This Week’s Magic Tenner Focus

The Decorator Centre – Rope Walks

Businesses working with or supplying: Framptons, Punch & Judy, Kernow Pantry, The Woodman, Bridport Lighting, Naturalife, RKL, Animal House, Gunz, Bridport Electric Palace, Gary Pitcher Locksmith & Ironmonger, The Fridge and more

Bella’s  – South Street

Businesses working with or supplying: Frampton’s, Jessica’s cakes, RKL, Café Rico, Waste Not Want Not, AJ Supplies, Hanger’s Dairy and more

Bridport Arts & Crafts – East Street

Businesses working with or supplying: RKL Tools, Livingstone Textiles, Footeprints, Cilla & Camilla, Ride, DD Computers, Bridport Lighting, Framptons, Balsons, Washingpool Farm, Hangers Dairy, Leakers, Punch & Judy, Windy Corner Cafe, Green Yard, Longs, Liliputs, The Bookshop, Animal House, Becca’s Fabric Larder, Wessex Jewellers, Groves Nursery, Electric Palace, Edney Carpets, Sitman Autos, Newbody Fitness, Redlands Yard, Maria’s Pantry, Aleksandras, Gelateria Beppino, Baboo Gelato, Margarets and more

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