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