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