South West Tourism Award Finals

A bit of news to brighten our day we’ve just heard that the Centre has been selected as one of the Finalists in the New Tourism Business Award category of this year’s South West Tourism Excellence Awards – the region’s ‘grand final’ in tourism awards. We can’t believe we are one of the 100 Tourism businesses from across the South West that are in the Final! The awards this year saw a record 773 entries from the region including Wiltshire, Gloucestershire, Bath, Bristol, Somerset, Dorset, Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.

The finals ceremony takes place in Exeter Cathedral on 6th February, so we have to wait a while to see if we’ve won Gold, Silver or Bronze. Thank you to all who have contributed to our success. It has been an amazing 16 months since we opened and have welcomed 31,000 visitors through the doors.

Dorset Tourism Awards 2019

Exciting news, West Bay Discovery Centre is one of the finalists in the New Business Award Category of the 2019 Dorset Tourism Awards ! Many thanks to all those who have helped us reach this point.

A record 146 entries were received from across Dorset, with 77 selected as finalists . We are in good company ,West Bay and Bridport are well represented as Lyme Regis Rib Charter, Bridport Tourist Centre, West Bay Play area and Highlands End are also finalists under other categories. The results will be announced on October 17th.


We were amazed to receive the Gold Award under the New Business Category, it has been a fantastic 14 months since we first opened the doors! Thanks to everyone involved in getting to this point and those who have supported and encouraged us.

Architecture in West Bay

When discussing the southern end of Pier Terrace, we often hear mutterings of “ugly”, “no building regs then, of course”, and “shame”. It’s certainly true that the actions of the crazy lad who set fire to numbers 9 and 10 in February 1929 changed the by then 44-year-old Pryor designed terrace forever.

However, if we look at the rebuilt section from a different perspective, separate from the original building, it seems wholly sensible to have such wide windows making the most of the views over the sea and harbour. In fact, compared to the somewhat mean windows of numbers 1 to 8, you can imagine the light flooding into these apartments during the day, and the occupants enjoying a glass of wine in the glow of a golden sunset.

If there are views to be viewed, making the most of them is something we all do, whether it’s choosing a house which is orientated a particular way to making the decision between blinds or no blinds on our windows. Arguably, 44 years on, perhaps a lesson had been learned about the dim living rooms?

On and off for 90 years there was a balcony wrapped around the side of number 10 Pier Terrace. It must have afforded a great view over the row of cottages, which were also severely damaged in the fire. The charred remains of the balcony are clearly visible on photographs of the fire damage. A picture from 1920 shows it to be there then, but it isn’t there in earlier photographs. In a picture of the floods from 1974, there’s a balcony taking up the same space on the rebuilt section of the building. Does anyone know when it finally disappeared? Are the concrete protrusions from the side of the building the remains of the balcony supports …?

It’s fascinating to read the changes in our older buildings. Dorset Architectural Heritage Week runs from 13th to 22nd September when many properties will be open to us. On the 14th September, the mezzanine area of the renovated building the Discovery Centre occupies will be open and will give visitors a deeper understanding of the chapel’s architecture. Details of participating properties can be found on

Shipbuilding in West Bay

Our shipbuilding exhibition is running until the end of October. The importance of Bridport Harbour’s shipbuilding industry has surprised visitors, who didn’t realise the scale of the operation up until 1879 when the last ship was launched.

Of course, the weather and waves have little respect for exceptional craftsmanship and inevitably even the fine vessels built here were lost at sea. Such a calamity was visited upon the brig, Titania, built in Bridport Harbour in 1850 for CT Bowering & Co of Liverpool.

Captain Frame steered the Titania away from Philadelphia on the morning of October 9th 1865, carrying a cargo of coal and hay, along with a few passengers. Four days later a severe gale hit and the ship sprang a leak which, despite every effort of the crew with the pumps, continued to spew water into damaged hull. As much as could be was thrown overboard was jettisoned, along with the cargo, in the forlorn hope that the Titania would be able to limp to safe harbour or be rescued.

Two days passed ‘in this incessant labour’ when it was discovered the water was now 11 feet deep. The six crew and 10 passengers – nine men and one woman – abandoned the vessel and boarded a 10 foot raft. They saw the Titania sink only two hours later, while they floundered in the sea, the weight of them sinking the raft to one foot below the surface.

As a newspaper reports, “In this wretched state, without food or water, they floated for about 24 hours”.

Well, that’s just one of the many fascinating stories waiting to be discovered at the West Bay Discovery Centre. We hope to welcome you soon.

Crabbing in West Bay

For decades families have been crabbing around the harbour. Recently there have been so many folk in search of the local crustaceans that getting around some parts of the harbour has proved quite challenging!

Many of our visitors aren’t familiar with the coast or the needs of the animals that live here. What should be a couple of hours of fun can cause all sorts of problems. Rubbish left behind: discarded plastic buckets, weights, string and so forth, which are an environmental nuisance, especially if they make their way into the water.

Last week there were bits of dead crab strewn all around one area on east pier and one child was seen actually stamping on his catch. Some people are still using hooks, which can get caught on sea birds and fish and often there is a general disregard for the fact that the harbour is a working harbour with frequent boat traffic and no barriers.

It was great to overhear Colin who is currently running the stall selling crabbing equipment, offering sound advice to those buying their kit from him, for example, how they should use harbour water, not tap water, and change it frequently. Thanks too to Colin and Tim in the newsagents for taking our crabbing leaflets to hand out with purchases, which we hope will help with advice when it comes to crabbing around West Bay’s harbour.

Our crabbing leaflet is also available in the Discovery Centre. There’s advice on the equipment to use, how to sex your crabs, how many to keep in a bucket together and how to release them responsibly so that they live to get caught again tomorrow!


August 2018 -our first month open

What an amazing month we have had since we opened! We welcomed 3,880 visitors through the doors which exceeded our expectations. We have also received some very positive feedback verbally and in our visitors book!

We thought we would share some of these comments with you.

“Fabulous exhibition , fun, informative. Great stuff brilliant, great for young and old.”

” Brilliant use if this space very interesting and informative.”

“Fantastic display , wonderful idea loved that there is lots to play with.”

“Wonderful to see the old building put to such good use. Imaginative and informative. Loved the historic pictures of West Bay and the videos.”

“Very interesting history of West Bay and West Dorset. They have done a good job. well done!”

“What an amazing place to enjoy as children and adults. Well thought out, thank you.”

“Very interesting and great ‘hands on’ for children. Amazing stories from residents of the area too,very enjoyable.”

“Good interactive display for children. Really interesting and informative, brilliantly laid out.”

“Lovely centre of local interest and good to see chapel put to such good use.”

“Amazing look at the past, staff very welcoming and friendly.”

“This all wouldn’t have been made possible without our excellent part time manager and the volunteers who have so generously given up their time to help us.”

If you haven’t had a chance to visit us yet do come and see us!

We are now in the process of planning future exhibitions and content more details soon…

Discovery Manager

“A treasure trove of West Bay stories and information and a base for exploration and adventure”… Have you got what it takes to breathe life into our vision for the brand new West Bay Discovery Centre?

We’re looking for a well-organised, creative and enthusiastic person to join us to run the new West Bay Discovery Centre. While experience in a similar role could be an advantage, what we’re really looking for is a person with strong and confident management skills, experience of nurturing and motivating volunteers and the ability to communicate exceptionally well with all different sorts of people.

Friendly and engaging, you will be confident at problem-solving and happy being hands-on.  You’ll have a good grasp of marketing and fundraising and be able to demonstrate an aptitude for planning our events and activities programme, drawing upon the talents and passion of those around you.  Computer skills will be important, as well as basics like health and safety and cash handling.

No two days will be the same and that’s when your time management skills will come into play, as well as your ability to focus on what matters and to manage you and your volunteer team’s, energy and motivation.

Above all, you will share our passion for West Bay and will be as excited as we are about the enormous potential of the Discovery Centre.

This role is for an initial four month fixed-term period, pending funding confirmation, subject to which, we expect it to become permanent.

26 hours per week, which may include weekend and bank holiday working. pro-rata to £20,000 per annum. Based in West Bay but with an expectation of some travel locally, so use of your own car would be an advantage.

Find out more about the West Bay Discovery Centre here and our Facebook page. If you require any further information please contact

To apply, please send a copy of your CV and a covering letter to explaining how your skills and experience match those we are looking for.

Deadline for applications 6 pm Monday 14th May.

Interviews will be held in Bridport on 24 May 2018

For job specification and role profile




Events taking place at West Bay Discovery Centre – Summer 2017

One of the many aims of the Discovery Centre will be to tell the stories of past events and stories of West Bay.

This year marks the 75th Anniversary of  Exercise Yukon which took place in West Bay in 1942.

In 1942 there were plans to launch an attack on Dieppe.  It was essential that prior to this, there was a rehearsal to test out the equipment and personnel.  The coastal landscape at West Bay was similar to Dieppe with high cliffs and long beaches and was therefore chosen as the location for Exercise Yukon.  Over 4,000 troops and 58 tanks landed at different points along the coast but the first attempt on June 11 – June 12 was such a disaster that it had to be repeated a few weeks later on June 22- June 23.  The Methodist Church that is now home to the Discovery Centre was hit by flares and so badly damaged that it was shut for the remainder of the Second World War.

The Dieppe Raid involved British and Canadian troops and took place on 19th August 1942.  It was unfortunately a disaster for the attackers – out of the 6,000 troops that landed, 4,000 were either killed, injured, or taken prisoner.  It is believed that many lessons were learnt from this dreadful carnage that helped in the planning of D-Day two years later.



We are combining with Bridport Heritage Forum and St John’s Church to remember these events and to help raise funds for a permanent memorial in St John’s Church to remember those who died at Dieppe.  The following events will take place:-

Friday 9th June “It’s all right!  It’s not the enemy!  Talk by Sheila Meaney from Bridport Heritage Forum at St John’s Church, West Bay 7:15 for 7:30. Donations in aid of memorial plaque to be placed in St John’s Church to commemorate those who died in the Dieppe Raid in August 1942 are welcome. (The rehearsals for the Dieppe Raid – Exercise Yukon – was held on the shores and cliffs of the coastline around West Bay in June 1942.)  The Dieppe Raid failed with many lives lost but vital lessons were learnt for the successful D-Day landings that took place two years later.

Sunday 11th June – Monday 12th June 2017 Exhibition showing the role West Bay played in the Dieppe Raid of 1942  in West Bay Discovery Centre, 11am-3pm.  Admission free – donations welcome.  

Friday 23rd June 2017 Exhibition showing the role West Bay played in the Dieppe Raid of 1942  in West Bay Discovery Centre, 11am-3pm.  Admission free – donations welcome.

Sunday 20th August 2017 Morning Service at 11am at St John’s Church to commemorate the 75th Anniversary of Dieppe followed by walk to the Pier with Standards.  The Discovery Centre will also be open from 12pm-4pm.

Tourist information for West Bay

Please note that the West Bay Visitor/Discovery Centre building and the associated telephone number for the Bridport Area Development Trust is NOT the West Bay Tourist Information Centre (TIC). There is no dedicated TIC in West Bay at present. The telephone number for the Bridport TIC is 01308 424901 with tourist information for Bridport and West Bay also available on these websites: