Looking back twelve months

As we reach almost twelve months since work started on the Chapel its a good time to look back and see what has been achieved. It’s difficult to remember that the Methodist Chapel looked like this time last year – abandoned and in need of a restoration.

The builders started work in mid-February and the interior looked even worse for a while as the early work stripped back existing wall and ceiling coverings.

The floor boards were removed so that repairs could be carried out to the timber joists underneath and then relaid. The ceiling panels were also removed , the roof insulated and new panels were fitted.

In April the  walls were re-plastered and the windows refurbished and the ceiling was refitted.

 In May a new mezzanine level was completed using oak and pine.

The completed building prior to fitting out. Our builders, R & C Building Conservation, led by Cristian Nicoara, did a great job !  The basis for this was the design work of Angel Architecture’s Kim Sankey, who has had a long association with the building. Daryl Chamber’s tenacious project management skills meant that everything was delivered to plan.

The outside was repainted creating a very different look to its appearance in January 2018. Although the seagulls didn’t take long to christen it!

The fitting of interpretation and displays by our designers Smith & Jones begins – it takes three days – it was strange to see everything in reality after having worked on the concept and content for so many months beforehand.

Our Discovery manager Sandy Hashimi welcomes our volunteers and gives them a final briefing.

West Bay Discovery Centre is officially opened by the Deputy Mayor of Bridport, Martin Ray. The Trustees of Bridport Area Development Trust and the Management Group of West Bay Discovery Centre join him to mark this important milestone.

Washed Ashore– our first exhibition highlighted the issue of plastics being washed  up on the beach.

Washed Ashore– our first exhibition highlighted the issue of plastics being washed  up on the beach.

Our collection of nurdles/biobeads collected from West Bay Beach Clean sessions by the public.

World War 1 Exhibition  – most of the artifacts were lent by local people.  We  discovered the life stories of the six men who never returned to West Bay and are recorded on the memorial. in St John’s Church. 

World War 1 Exhibition  – most of the artifacts were lent by local people.  We  discovered the life stories of the six men who never returned to West Bay and are recorded on the memorial in St John’s Church. 

Model Boat exhibition – a wonderful selection of model boats produced by members of the local  model group.

Model Boat exhibition – a wonderful selection of model boats produced by members of the local  model group

It has been wonderful to have welcomed over 9,000 visitors into the building since August. The numbers having well exceeded our expectations. We still have many exciting plans and ideas to fulfill in 2019. So do please follow our progress and come in and see us when we reopen in mid-February for the 2019 season.

Update April 2018

The building work on the West Bay Discovery Centre is progressing well and the plan to complete the building work by June is still on course. The latest images taken last week  show lots of scaffolding still in place. Once this has been removed the committee will at long last have a chance to see the impact that the works have had on the inside of the building.

In the meantime there has been a great deal of work on the designs for the interior and we have been very grateful for the help we have had from local residents in providing with additional information and stories about West Bay. There are so many wonderful stories and ideas to encourage further exploration, that it has been such a challenge to fit as much as we would like in the limited space!

We were delighted to be given £500 from West Bay Days, which will be used to finance the Fra Newbery shipyard print.  Over 350 vessels were produced in the shipyard between 1769 – 1879 but there are only a couple of images which show us what it actually looked like.

We have launched our campaign to recruit a manager for the Centre and the advert and role profile will shortly be on this site.


Update January 2018

Behind the scenes plans have been gathering momentum to restore West Bay’s former Methodist Church and transform it to become the West Bay Discovery Centre.

We are pleased to announce that after a formal tender process, R & C Building Conservation of Shaftesbury have been appointed as the contractor to deliver the construction-related part of the project. R & C Conservation have plenty of experience of historic and ecclesiastical buildings. They will be working closely with our Project Manager, Daryl Chambers and Architect Kim Sankey of Angel Architecture to repair and adapt the 170 year old chapel so that it will continue to be an iconic landmark feature in West Bay. Building work on the site is planned to commence in early February for 16 weeks.

At the same time we are working with Bristol-based designers Smith and Jones to create an exciting scheme for the interior of the Discovery Centre. It will provide a treasure trove of information for people to explore, both inside and outside the building.

With the structural repairs and the internal works complete, the Discovery Centre is scheduled to open to visitors in mid to late summer.


Once the centre is up and running it will be managed by a part-time paid coordinator but we will be reliant on volunteers to help engage with visitors and guide visitors in their exploration of the Discovery Centre and through it West Bay. We will be launching a recruitment drive for volunteers at the Bridport Community Fair on Saturday 3rd February at Bridport Town Hall. If you wish for further information please do come over and say hello.

September 2017 Update

If you have been recently enjoying the sea air, fish and chips or ice-creams down at West Bay you may have noticed that things are happening at West Bay Discovery Centre.


We have started some preliminary building work in order to prepare the interior of the building for refurbishment. We hope to carry out most of the work over the winter period. Alongside this we are using the consultation carried out during the summer to help shape our ideas for the stories and information that will feature in the design for the interior. As in any refurbishment it always looks worse before it gets better, at the moment it looks rather sad and forlorn.

Thank you to everyone who took part in our consultation process we held in the summer along with Dorset Coast Forum. The results are summarised in the chart below.

It is a challenge covering everything we would like to in a small space, but we are now focusing our efforts on developing all the subjects that were popular and exploring how they can be presented in a harmonious way.

Its been a productive summer we’ve met many people who’ve shared their stories and information with us, which could well risk being forgotten. West Bay has so much to offer. We have also been surveying local wildlife, for example, in a small area adjacent to the disused limekiln we found over twenty varieties of plant.

We will keep you informed on here about how the project progresses, especially now things are gaining momentum. If you are interested in getting involved, perhaps as a voluntary steward when the Centre is open, please do get in touch. Our email address is : info@westbaydiscoverycentre.org.uk.