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A harbour was first recorded at West Bay in the 13th century, then known as Bridport Harbour.

The River Brit, a tidal river, flows into the sea through the sluice gates and harbour basin at West Bay.

During the Napoleonic Wars (1799 – 1815) many ships were built here, while in 1853 one of 1000 tons was launched but wooden ship building ceased some 25 years later.

Bridport Harbour changed its name to West Bay when a train line was built in the late 1800’s and the fishing hamlet with its maritime buildings expanded as houses were built. The harbour was used for import/export trade until the 1960’s. Fishing as an industry, continues today.

Throughout the summer, visitors can take day trips to catch mackerel. Local seafood is widely available in the shops and many food outlets around West Bay.

Construction work undertaken at the beginning of this century has seen the development of a new slipway and outer harbour and a replacement of the old west pier with a realigned new Jurassic Pier. Bridport’s longstanding links with its twin town, St. Vaast La Hougue (a Normandy fishing port with marina), are marked with a commemorative stone naming the area of the new slipway as the Place St Vaast La Hougue.

West Bay is very popular with divers and the new slipway provides launching for dive boats and for small pleasure craft. A new Gig club has been formed, taking advantage of the enhanced facilities.

Throughout the summer, visitors can take day trips to catch mackerel. Local seafood is widely available in the shops and many food outlets around West Bay.

Construction work undertaken at the beginning of this century has seen the development of a new slipway and outer harbour and a replacement of the old west pier with a realigned new Jurassic Pier. Bridport’s longstanding links with its twin town, St. Vaast La Hougue (a Normandy fishing port with marina), are marked with a commemorative stone naming the area of the new slipway as the Place St Vaast La Hougue.

West Bay is very popular with divers and the new slipway provides launching for dive boats and for small pleasure craft. A new Gig club has been formed, taking advantage of the enhanced facilities.

The Jurassic Coast

East Cliff View

Designated part of the Jurassic Coast, www.jurassiccoast.com (England’s first natural World Heritage Site) where some of the strata of geological importance can be seen in the magnificent sandstone sea cliffs, some 180 million years old, the striking, often sunlit, cliffs of West Bay are a memorable image and provide inspiration for photographers, artists and poets. The Bridport and West Dorset Golf Club have a cliff top course with striking sea views, while television and film companies have used the cliffs as a backdrop in a number of productions. The South West Coastal Path is routed along both West and East Cliffs at West Bay.

A large caravan and camp site with a variety of hotels and guesthouses provide welcome accommodation for visitors to the area (details can be found on this site), while a number of small service businesses, shops, cafes and kiosks cater for the needs of the community, visitors, fishermen, anglers and divers alike.

The Salt House

The Salt House, one of West Bay’s maritime historic buildings, is leased by Bridport Town Council and provides a venue for charitable events and a meeting place for community organisations.

Contact number 01308 456722.

West Bay Discovery Centre

The Discovery Centre is a treasure trove of West Bay stories, activities and information. It is housed in the former West Bay Methodist Chapel, which dates from 1849.

The Centre’s contents span West Bay from geological history to present day and include the hidden history of shipbuilding in West Bay or Bridport harbour as it then was, commercial fishing and a light-hearted look at the development of tourism. There is something to interest all ages including short films, oral history, things to touch and interactive games for children and adults. The Centre also has a small shop where you can buy products that are locally produced, some of them unique to the Centre.

The Centre also features changing exhibitions on a range of topics and to national and local commemorate events.

Admission is free, but the Centre welcomes donations to cover its running costs. It is owned and run by Bridport Area Development Trust, a local charity.

Opening times are normally 11am – 4pm (closed Mondays) April to October with some weekend and holiday opening outside this period (please check the Centre’s website, link below).

West Bay Discovery Centre

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