We’ve heard today the exciting news that our bid for funding from the Coastal Communities Lottery Fund has been successful. We’ve been awarded the funds we bid for, to restore the Chapel and adapt it into a Discovery Centre that will tell the story of West Bay, its harbour and history and inspire people to explore all that West Bay has to offer.
The bid was submitted last December following a lot of hard work and with the support of Bridport Town Council and several other local partners. We can now start work on making our plans a reality.
It’s been a while since our last update due to a huge amount of time being spent at the latter end of the year completing and revising our plan for the Coastal Community Fund bid that went in at the end of December. After that a break from the computer was well needed!
So what is happening in the Discovery Centre in 2017?
There are many other organisations that have applied for funding from the Coastal Community Fund and they will announce who has been successful in the Spring. If we are lucky enough to be chosen, work on the Discovery Centre will start in September at the earliest.
In the meantime we will be experimenting by running a few short term displays or events that will link into the history or landscape of West Bay and will allow us to discover what subjects are of particular interest to the public. Announcements will be made as soon as plans are finalised.
We were delighted to hear this week that our bid for the funds for the Coastal Communities (Big Lottery) has passed Stage one. All the bids that have now gone through to Stage two will require a more detailed application. So we’re expecting a lot of hard work over the next few months to put together Stage two with our colleagues in the Bridport & West Bay Coastal Communities Team. We then hope that this project will be one of the projects that is selected for funding.
You may also notice that we have a new blue boat seat outside the Chapel. Many thanks go the Sea Cadets who donated it, and also to Richard Toft and Force 8, who transformed it and made it possible.
Over the last few months the steering group have been busy in producing a business case and a development bid and not least, creating a vision for the Centre. We want to create a modern and welcoming space that also captures the essence of the historic and atmospheric community building. It will be a living repository for knowledge about West Bay. We want people to discover what West Bay has to offer – and then go out and explore it. The vision has made us rethink our name to ‘West Bay Discovery Centre’ which describes more what we are aiming to achieve. There is so much here to offer, from the history, the picturesque harbour , it’s location of Jurassic Coast and the wildlife on land and sea.
An application has been submitted to Coastal Communities Fund for £150,000. Many other organisations along the coast will also be applying to this fund. We will find out in August whether we will be taken forward to the second round, we are keeping our fingers crossed!
On Friday 15th July we ran a very successful open day, inviting members of the public to visit the chapel and find out more about our plans to turn it into a Discovery Centre for West Bay. Despite the drizzle outside, 60 people came through the doors. We were delighted that one of the visitors had worshiped here and attended the very last service that was held in the Chapel. It was wonderful to talk to so many people and receive positive comments and interest.
During the summer holidays a local artist collective called Force 8 will running a programme of events from 23rd July – 4th September. They are aiming to explore people’s holiday experience by bringing together ideas, knowledge, holiday snaps and stories. They will be also running children’s activities, and a series of evening talks- for the full programme visit their website http://force8.org/.
As mentioned last month work has continued inside the chapel to enable us to allow public access to the building. Thanks to work by Bridport Town Council the floor boards have now been made secure, and the walls have been retouched. We have also treated the remaining pews for woodworm. As you can see it is now looking very clean and smart inside.
The first draft of a business plan has been produced and additional details are now being added. Although we are unable to open the chapel as a functioning Visitor Centre until we have secured the substantial additional funding required for full renovation and adaption, there is a possible opportunity of it being used over the summer period – more details soon hopefully.
Trevor Ware of the Bridport Area Development Trust will be addressing the West Bay Community Forum as guest speaker at their AGM on Thursday 7th April, 2016 at the Salthouse West Bay (meeting starts at 7.30pm). He will explain the challenges that the Visitor Centre project faces and will be hoping to enlist the help and support of local people. Members of the public are welcome to attend too.
There have been lots of things going on in February at the Chapel. As has been previously mentioned the cost of the work to restore and adapt the building is substantial. We are currently working on a business plan which will be used to support applications for grant funding. As this process will take some time we are also looking into the possibility of opening the chapel for a limited period during the summer of 2016. Before this can be achieved there is some initial work that needs to be carried out.
The wooden internal screen (see below) which dates from the 1950’s has been taken down. It was found to be infested with woodworm and there was real danger that this would spread to the other wooden parts of the building.
It is amazing how much more light is now flooding into the building.
Further internal work will be undertaken in March.
We have also launched dedicated Facebook and Twitter accounts for the Visitor Centre project and we are are delighted with the early level of response and interest. We are planning on using both these and the website to keep everyone up to date with current progress and future plans.
This Methodist Church, known locally as the Chapel on the Beach, is no longer in use as a Place of Worship. It is now owned by the Bridport Area Development Trust (BADT), a local community organisation dedicated to the restoration and reuse of historic buildings. The Trust intends to establish the Church as a West Bay Visitor Centre providing information about the history and environment of West Bay and the surrounding area.
The Church was open to the public during Summer 2014. Temporary displays tested interest in various themes such as the Church itself, West Bay, its history, and information about the local area. At the same time BADT secured funds from West Dorset District Council (WDDC) and the Architectural Heritage Fund to carry out a condition survey and undertake urgent works to protect and conserve the fabric of the building.
Repair works were carried out to the roof and gutters in early 2015 and a more detailed condition report was commissioned. Damp penetration is causing significant damage to floors and walls. Woodworm infestation of the internal screen is also putting at risk all timber in the building.
A local heritage architect has been engaged to develop plans for both the restoration and conversion of the building. The introduction of a mezzanine at the north end of the building will provide additional floor space and new accessible toilet facilities will cater for people working in the building. A Listed Building application for this restoration and conversion work was approved by WDDC in 2015.
Further funding will need to be found to carry out the restoration. A programme of public consultation has been developed to ask both visitors and local residents what they would like to see in the Visitor Centre. We will be holding public information events during 2016 and have produced a questionnaire (which was introduced at the 2015 Melplash Show) to inform our future plans – we welcome your views! The questionnaire can be completed online here.
For more information, to share your views, or to join our mailing list to keep up to date with progress, please do get in touch firstname.lastname@example.org