This week : Hazelmead Cohousing and the “Common House” project, Bridport Royal Charter Pageant 1953, Discovery Centre 5 th Birthday, RNLI Seatown Barbecue (Cancelled), Next week.
Hazelmead Cohousing, Bridport
On Monday I was invited to celebrate the Summer opening of the Hazelmead cohousing development in Bridport . The development has been a long haul for those who first had the dream of building, not just 53 affordable houses, but a community. This has resulted in this flagship development of sustainable, community-based living setting an excellent benchmark for energy efficiency and low-carbon housing.
Bridport Cohousing, BCHA and Dorset Council, with grant funding from Homes England, are delivering 39 homes of which 26 will be for Social Rent and 13 for Shared Ownership, starting with a 25% share. Bridport Cohousing has delivered an additional 14 homes for Shared Equity with an 80% share. They will be working together to enable residents to manage the neighbourhood, including the extensive landscaping and food-growing areas.
The Bridport Cohousing CLT is a shining light for affordable housebuilding. This community-led project, which has been coming to fruition over the past 14 years is now nearly completed. There are children playing on the car-free streets and residents have planted up a community orchard and are now harvesting a mountain of courgettes in the communal growing beds!
The 1 bedroom flats will be the last homes to be occupied and they are hoping that the builders are off site at the beginning of September.
There are still a few things left to finish off but the houses looked very attractive and, having had a tour of one of the properties, I was struck by how light and airy it felt due to the large south facing triple glazed windows and the owner explained how the fitted heat recovery system coupled with the Solar panels on the roofs and the exceptionally high standard of insulation ensured that energy bills were way below what he had been used to in his previous flat.
The properties had their own garden areas and there were communal vegetable plots, bike sheds and a large battery system tucked away which stored the energy generated on site to be used should the site suffer a power cut. I also came across a new term, apparently the site had many “swales” for natural drainage and these are shallow broad channels that can be lined with grass, vegetation or rocks. It is a more natural way to help site drainage and should reduce the amount of surface water run off, one of the contributors of our sewage overflows into rivers and the sea locally and around the UK.
The tours concluded with speeches from the Stakeholders as well as our local MP Mr. Chris Loder who was extremely complimentary to all involved in bringing the scheme to fruition.
I think all agreed that this project was a “Blueprint for the Future” as the largest scheme of it’s kind in the UK that delivered the type of housing Bridport needs, for local people or those that have a connection to the area. Above all the purchase/rental schemes on offer make these properties truly within the reach of those on lower incomes.
It is not surprising to hear that this project has been nominated for 2 National Awards.
The residents were hoping to have a “Common House” built in the middle of the development but sadly funding for this has not been achieved and so they have now come up with a novel idea to train residents and other local people and provide them with the skills needed to build it themselves. I have included details of the scheme below.
Hazelmead “Common House” self-build training
Please see below for an exciting opportunity for local people who are interested in learning about sustainable building techniques to get some hands-on experience guided by experts in their field.
Bridport Cohousing is offering 4 courses over the summer/ autumn in natural building using locally sourced and some recycled materials. These should prove extremely popular as we have Barbara Jones leading the courses. She is the UK guru of straw bale building and co- founder of the School of Natural building. The courses are on offer as of today and you can find out more at https://bridportcohousing.org.uk/courses/.
Bridport Royal Charter Pageant 1953
Bridget and I were treated to a Bridport history lesson on Tuesday when we went to Town Hall to see the screening of the Bridport Royal Charter Pageant that was held in 1953, 770 years after Bridport was granted its Charter in 1183.
The event was the start of the 1950’s exhibitions that are due to be held throughout the next two weeks and The Forum’s theme is called ‘Rationing to Rock n’ Roll’ … a step back to the ’50s. Like all of the Heritage Forum’s projects, this has its roots in Bridport and the local community and the Charter Pageant film that we attended recorded one of the important local events of the 50s decade.
It is planned for our Town Crier to officially proclaim the event open on Saturday morning at 10.00 in Bucky Doo Square but this will be subject to the weather and there will be an exhibition in the Town Hall from 10.00 onwards.
The event on Monday was presented by Bridport Heritage Forum and we were greeted by one of the Trustees, Linda Bullock, who did an excellent job of standing in for the Chair, Sheila Meaney. Linda kindly talked us through the running order for the afternoon including detail about what we were going to see and what to look out for during the presentation and films. The Forum consists of a small committee of volunteers who’ve worked for over a year to bring this free exhibition to the town hall. They have worked closely with the Town Council for many years and they always stage the big exhibitions in August to provide an attraction not only for the local community, but also for the summer visitors to the town.
Thanks to the hard work of Deputy Mayor Ian Bark who managed to put together the presentation, we were able to see a slideshow containing the adverts that were in the original programs and this led to a trip down memory lane for some of the audience.
From what I could hear some of the people present clearly remembered the shops from that time, where they were, who ran them and what happened to them. The narrative was provided by Elizabeth Gale, a well known local Historian, who provided great detail on the businesses featured and Ian Bark also assisted by introducing each slide.
This was followed by the Windrose film of the Pageant and it was surprising to hear that in 1953 the people of Bridport totalled around 6,000 and well over 1000 took part in the Pageant in some way.
For them it was the chance to come together as a community after the struggles everyone had faced during the second world war and they certainly seemed to have had some fun on the day. No doubt for any local people the main draw of the pageant was to be the visit of Princess Margaret on the opening night: apparently the first ‘official’ royal visit in the town’s history. Margaret was given a beautifully leather-bound blue souvenir programme, tooled in gold and printed on art paper—and lacking the advertisements of the normal souvenir. Fortunately the film has managed to capture some brief clips of her visit.
I have added a link below for those requiring more information on the 1953 Charter event and it also offers an opportunity to see the film.
Please follow the link below:
Other local themes on show in August will be:
- The opening of Colfox School 1956 first comprehensive in Dorset , with supporting 1050s ‘Schooldays’ (and dinners!)
- The Coronation – Bridport Street parties and decorations as well as the Coronation itself.
- The Town Centre in the ’50s…maps photos and adverts.
The bigger picture has themes centred on:
- ‘Childhood’ – toys and TV programmes – activities for children to engage in, 50s toys to
play with , ‘Watch with Mother’ …to watch. Paul Atterbury is attending on August 19th.
- ‘A Night out. . ..’ Cinema, records T.V., Eating out. Interactive Skiffle group Mannequins in
- 50 images of the ’50s.
- Reconstruction of a 50s Kitchen with original furniture/artefacts.
The exhibition opens at 10.00 on Saturday 5th August.
For further information on the Bridport Heritage Forum, please follow the link below:
West Bay Discovery Centre 5th Birthday
Bridget and I were invited to the 5th Birthday celebrations at the Discovery Centre, it surprised me that this wonderful visitor attraction had only been going for 5 years, it seems such an integral part of what West Bay has to offer to our many visitors each year.
John West gave us all a rundown on the difficulties encountered and the time it took for the dream to come to fruition and it is a tribute to the drive and determination of all those who were involved that they overcome the many challenges, especially in the early years.
It was a pleasure to be asked to present the 5 year service award certificates to the many volunteers who have worked so hard to make the Centre such a success and there were many tributes to John and Sarah West for making the Centre such an enjoyable place to work in.
After the presentations we enjoyed an excellent buffet and a chance to look around the exhibits and talk to the volunteers.
Finally at the end of the evening a birthday cake was cut and everyone joined in with a rousing “Happy Birthday”. An enjoyable evening and many thanks to John and Sarah for putting on the event and making the dream a reality.
Did you know that West Bay Discovery Centre is run by Bridport Area Development Trust (Registered Charity Number 1137231)? They only receive just 15% of their running costs from public funding. Every year they need to raise the remaining 85% from a combination of fundraising and income from visitors.
How you can support them
- Visiting regularly to see what is on offer
- Coming on one of the guided tours around West Bay
- Telling your friends and neighbours about them and encourage them to visit.
- Become a Discovery Volunteer
- Review them on-line e.g. Trip Advisor, Google etc
- Making a purchase from the Shop
- Leaving a donation in one of the donation boxes
- Making a donation through their webpage
- Legacies bequests and gifts left in memory whether large or small are greatly
- Become a Business Sponsor
- Stay in touch – sign up using the link below and they will keep you up to date with
the latest news and information with regular newsletters straight into your inbox.
RNLI BBQ Fundraiser at Seatown
Unfortunately due to a very poor weather forecast it was decided to cancel the event and will now be on August 16th.
Saturday morning we will be attending the official opening of the “Rationing to Rock and Roll” in Bucky Doo square (subject to the weather).
Sunday I am opening West Bay Days at 2pm
Monday we are at Lyme Bay Civic day representing Bridport.
Friday I will be on the treadmill for 15 mins at Morrisons to mark the start of their Mount Everest challenge. Keep an eye out for further information in the next few days but it will be starting at 9 a.m.