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

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West Bay Discovery Centre in 1970’s

West Bay Methodist Church & Camping in West Bay A lot of years ago, I was about 9 or 10, my family and I used to bring our little homemade caravan to West Bay caravan park. One year we went as usual to the Methodist Chapel for the Sunday Service. At the beginning of the service the Vicar apologised and said that the organist was unwell and unable to play the organ,and we would have to sing the hymns unaccompanied unless anyone in the congregation would be happy to play. My Mother (who was the organist at Wingrave U.R.C. Chapel Wingrave Bucks at that time) said she would be pleased to play. I shall never forget singing The Day Thou Gavest with my Mother playing the organ in that lovely little Chapel in beautiful West Bay. Still one of my favourite places to visit. Sue Bignell

Memories of holidaying in West Bay

We were recently contacted by Peter Allan who is currently writing his memoirs. He tells us: “In the 1950s I spent several years holidaying in West Bay. I can honestly say they were some of the happiest years of my life. West Bay is such a wonderful and magical place.  I tell so many people of its delights and encourage them to visit.

Apart from wandering all day long on the East and West cliffs, the harbour was perhaps my favourite place. My parents befriended a fisherman named Frank. We would regularly go out to sea on his boat and return with perhaps a dozen or so of mackerel.”

Frank Butt (fisherman and harbour pilot) pictured in boat in West Bay harbour in the1960’s

Having lost a picture he had of Frank Butt, he asked whether we could help him. We were able to supply some images and also give him a link to an old TV programme when Richard Dimbleby visited West Bay and interviewed Frank in the 1950’s. We were delighted to have brought these happy memories back to life for him and his brother.

Memories of Peter Northover

Peter Northover West Bay Harbour Pilot (copywrite Annemarie Northover)
I remember the later Harbour Pilot Peter Northover and his ship the Valetta. My parents ran the George Inn Bothenhampton and the local fishermen often whiled away the night there. Sometimes I would go to walk downstairs and there would be crab and lobster tied up on their backs in the hallway below. Still moving.

I spent a few lovely days on the Valetta with Peter and my dad. Dad helped him lobster pot as I sat in the front locker with the Peter’s little dog and then we fished off the back of the boat. nearly every winter we would drive through the harbor at high tide and see the mast of the Valetta sticking out of the water as it had overwhelmed its pump and sank at its mooring.

On one occasion there was a George Inn Booze cruise to Lyme Regis. With the regulars, men women, and me the only 7-year-old aboard, and the dog. the sea was choppy, and the boat was rolling a little as we headed down the coast in front of West Cliff. Then there was a clung whine and the motor stopped. We had wrapped an old broken pot line floating in the water, tight around the prop and no matter how much chopping at that rope Peter did bobbing around half-naked in the water at the stern he could not shift it (the ladies in the group were rather vocal of their approval of Peter’s state of dress I recall) As we bobbed ever closer to the shore Peter sent a distress call and a fishing boat soon appeared from the harbour and towed us back in. No booze but a story to remember and If I recall correctly there was a poem written about it.
Valetta fishing boat (copywrite Annemarie Northover)

Farmers weekly catch up at West Bay

As a child from London, from 1949 as a 3 year old I spent every July staying in an old railway carriage with my parents in a shaded corner of Downhouse Farm at Higher Eype with a lovely view over the fields to the sea. Sunday evening after milking, was finished Mum, Dad myself the farmer and his daughter would climb into the farms old Austin car and the daughter would us drive down to West Bay as all the local farmers would park up along the front and catch up on what had been happening on their farms that week. I can also remember water polo in the harbour, wonderful memories sadly those in the farming family have now passed away. Is it a wonder that in 2001 in our mid 50’s my husband and I retired to Dorset and when our friend the farmer died my husband who had become great friends with the family was asked to give a reading at his funeral in the little church packed with farming families. Such happy childhood memories. Anne Parsons