West Bay Discovery Centre, West Bay, Bridport, DT6 4EN.

Architecture in West Bay

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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  www.dahw.org.uk.

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