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Pilsdon Community, Closure Of Leakers Bakery, Vodka And Energy Champions

Pilsdon Community, Closure of Leakers Bakery, Vodka and Energy Champions


I my last blog I said I would share with you some images of the Bridport Mayor’s Civic Day. I know you have been waiting with bated breath to see them so here they are.

The images above cover visits to the MUGA, Youth and Community Centre, Bridport Primary School, Seals Cove and Skate and Ride.


Last week I was finally able to make a much looked forward visit to the Pilsdon Community. Pilsdon is set in the beautiful West Dorset countryside, just 15 minutes drive north of Bridport. The community is made up of 25-30 people who live and work together on a small farm, based around a Jacobean manor house and its converted stables and barns.

Since it was founded in 1958 by Percy and Gaynor Smith, the Pilsdon Community has been offering a refuge to people in crisis, welcoming those from all backgrounds and from many different walks of life – whether young or old, rich or poor. Fundamentally, Pilsdon is a community that shares a common life of prayer, hospitality and work, providing an environment of acceptance and friendship where people can begin to rebuild their lives. At Pilsdon worship and spirituality is Anglican by foundation but ecumenical in expression. People of any faith, or none, and of any race, culture or sexual orientation are made welcome.

Today the community is registered charity with a Board of Trustees who have a legal responsibility to ensure it is run properly and that it stays true to its original vision. The community is headed by the Warden, Rev Sue Langdon and a core group of members who together they take responsibility for day to day organisation and maintaining the vision and ethos of the community’s life. In addition to Sue the community is made up of:

  • Members – who together have responsibility for the day to day running of the community.
  • Operations Manager – the only paid member of the community who is responsible for all aspects of the formal administration
  • Guests – people who come to the community to seek a place of safety; a place to heal and to live as well as possible
  • Wayfarers – people who live their lives on the road and often sleep rough who come to Pilsdon for one or two nights to have a bed, warm food and access to washing and laundry facilities.
  • Volunteers – who go for different periods as residents, or on a day to day basis to help out by offering practical skills.

Whilst members have particular roles to play I noticed that it was difficult to see who’s who and who does what. It was clearly a case of everyone being equally valued and respected for what they bring.

The community is not a service provider in the way that many of you will be familiar from your experiences of mainstream health and social car service. It is a radically inclusive community that holds its love of people, social justice, and care for the environment in a woven way that respects the need for a minimum of rules to support and protect. People who come to live alongside the community are generally struggling. They may be experiencing mental health problems, recovering from addiction or a life crisis. Above all Pilsdon offers a space which provides an opportunity for people to find their way through the problems they are facing.

A tour of the site started in the beautiful Jacobean manor house which is very much the heart of the community with the Aga in the kitchen, communal dining room and lounge central to community life. It is often said that a family that eats together stays together and this is certainly a central part of the delivery of the ethos and ongoing success of the Pilsdon community.

Over the years some of the ex farm outbuildings have been repurposed to provide single room wayfarer accommodation, an on site workshop, pottery, art room and games room which housed a full size snooker table amongst other items. As a ex farm boy and current allotment holder myself I was particularly impressed by the extensive kitchen garden with several poly tunnels, and the cattle, sheep and pigs which enable the community to be virtually self sufficient in fresh organic food.

The last port of call was to the small chapel where one of the community members was waiting to play his cornet for us. He had learned to play as a child but ‘life’ had taken over and he had not played it for decades until he recently came to Pilsdon. The piece he played by Henry Purcell sounded wonderful as it echoed around the beautiful little chapel.

I came away from Pilsdon with a really positive feeling and the utmost respect for the way in which the community supports each other and those in need. Day volunteers are always welcome and the formal gardens at the front of the manor house could do with a little bit of regular TLC and when I cease to be Mayor next May I will be seriously considering offering my help there. If you would like to become a day volunteer click HERE to find out more.


I am deeply saddened by the news that Leakers Bakers will cease to be at the end of trading on Friday 14 October. For the past 20 years, Leakers has been a significant and well-loved presence on East Street and the market and I know that it is going to be sorely missed by many many local people and visitors alike..

Leakers has fallen victim to the current cost of living and energy crises we are facing. The ever-rising cost of raw materials, wheat in particular, and escalating energy costs are the main reasons given for the decision to close.

With regard to energy costs, Leakers applied to install solar panels as a means of reducing their energy costs. Disappointingly, the planning application was rejected by Dorset Council.

Dorset Council has declared a climate emergency and sadly all too often, people who are trying their best to upgrade their homes and businesses to make them more energy efficient and habitable are being thwarted by the same Dorset Council, in its role as planning authority, applying outdated and very often subjective criteria and judgements to applications.

Just because a building is listed or in a conservation area does not mean it should not be upgraded and made fit for life in the twenty-first century. For example, rejecting applications to replace draughty single-glazed metal-framed windows with double-glazed units is not a matter of conservation. It is forcing people to endure a lower standard of living on the basis of a subjective aesthetic judgement by the planners.

With regard to the installation of solar panels, I cannot think of any good reason to reject their installation even on a Grade 1 listed building. Based on the current interpretation being used by Dorset Council, there are 461 Grade 2 listed buildings in Bridport that would, in all likelihood, find an application to install solar panels rejected. In this day and age, this is no longer acceptable.

Partly as a consequence of these wildly outdated attitudes towards the installation of solar panels, Bridport is about to lose a much-loved traditional bakery that is very much in the spirit of what makes the town’s high street such a dynamic place for residents and visitors alike.

It is time for a radical rethink in the Planning department at Dorset Council. It is time to put people and the environment first, preserving our heritage where we can, but not to the disadvantage of our residents and the planet.


The Market House, West Street – Closing

Our high street has been dealt another blow with the closure of the The Market House, West Street this coming Sunday. Once again soaring energy bills and running costs are cited as the reason for the closure.

According to co-managers Olly Jarvis and Alice Thomas, it would be impossible to continue to run the pub without dramatically increasing prices to keep up with the rise in costs. We are all aware that Covid was a tough time for the hospitality industry but it would appear that the current cost of living and energy crisis is proving to be even tougher.

Olly and Alice had built up a strong reputation for their lunches, take outs, and a very popular Sunday carvery – sadly from this weekend it will no longer be available. I know a lot of people are going to miss the Market House.

The George, South Street – reopening

The news that The George, South Street is to reopen has been welcomed by many. It is a pub with a long history and a has been a much loved hostelry over many years. Did you know that many of the scenes in Keith Floyd’s first television series Floyd on Fish were filmed in the George?

According to the Palmers’ Brewery website

The George Bridport offers a wonderful chance for the right operator to put their stamp on this already well established food led business. Located in the heart of Bridport town centre with its twice weekly historic market on the doorstep and just a short walk from the beach and harbour in West Bay, opportunity for the right offer is huge.

The George is one of Palmers’ most iconic properties, with a lovely traditional feel having been fully refurbished in 2014 and kept in very good order ever since. The pub benefits from 35 covers spread out over the bar, restaurant and beautiful snug room, that is well used or private functions and family get-togethers. There is a fully functioning open plan commerical kitchen facing out onto the dining room, including walk in cold room and freezer.”

The new landlords are Alison and Simon Mason and they hope to reopen the pub at the end of October/early November. I, for one, am looking forward to seeing the George returned to its former glory.


Being Mayor can be very demanding but it does have its fun times and Friday evening was one of those occasions which fits into the fun category.

The Watch House in West Bay played host to the launch of the Hive Beach Company’s own brand Vodka range. Working closely with Leigh at 18Gin they have created a range of exciting vodkas; Lime Zest, Dibar Café, Sea Salt, and a standard vodka.

The Dibar Cafe in Barcelona has been supplying the Hive Beach Company for fifteen years and it is this coffee that has been used to flavour the vodka hence the name. The directors of the company recently took a road trip driving from Burton Bradstock, crossing the channel, through France and down to Barcelona taking along with them a bottle of their new Dibar Cafe vodka, all the way back to where the coffee beans are roasted.

The Hive Beach Company launched their new vodkas at The Watch House café in West Bay to celebrate the hard work and passion put in to this project. To make this a real celebration the chefs created a specially tailored menu with cocktails and soft drinks all based on the flavours in the new vodka range. As you can see from the images below a great evening was had by all.


During the two bombing raids on Bridport in 1942, seven people lost their lives and many were seriously injured. Both incidents took place during daylight hours. The first was on Sunday 2 August, a Bank Holiday weekend, and the second on Wednesday 16 December . Buildings including the Star Inn and several houses were destroyed or badly damaged, and several shops and the General School had their windows blown out, plus an unexploded bomb lodged itself in the doorway of the Westminster Bank.

These events took place eighty years ago and on Tuesday 11 October, at 10.00am a small Memorial Service will take place at Bridport Cemetery, to remember all those who bore witness to these events and especially, those who lost their lives.

The date chosen for the memorial service is midway between the dates of the two raids.

Local schoolchildren will be there to plant a tree, in the company of Reverend Pete Stone and family members of those who lost their lives. I look forward to joining them.

Not all of the families involved have been found. Members of Bridport Heritage Forum are trying to trace relatives so that they can join the Remembrance event on October 10th – everyone is welcome.
There will be a small display in the Cemetery Chapel and refreshments, and an opportunity to share memories, will follow the tree planting.

Was your family affected? If yes please contact Sheila Meaney, Chair, Bridport Heritage Forum [email protected] to share your story for posterity.


Last Saturday morning I joined the Bridport Energy Champions outside the Skilling Londis Store where the Bridport Local Energy Champions and Transition Town had set up stalls to offer advice and guidance to people on how to reduce their energy bills. They were joined by local artist Jo Burlington who had devised several energy based activities for children to engage in whilst their parents talked to the Champions and others.

Bridport Town Council establishd the Energy Champions in 2021 and following training they have been out and about delivering much needed help and guidance.

To find out more about the Bridport Energy Champions click HERE

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