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

Elephant stories

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Elephants taking a dip at West Bay

We were delighted when a resident from West Bay recently shared this wonderful image from 1992 of elephants paddling in the sea at West Bay. This trip didn’t end in any mishaps.  This wasn’t always the case when elephants visited the town as we will discover!

Elephants have a feast in Bridport

In 1894 the Sanger’s circus came to Bridport. It was always a very popular event with hundreds of people driving or walking into Bridport from the neighbouring area to watch the procession through the town. Many would then attend an afternoon or evening circus performance at West Mills Field.

The crowds lining the streets admired the forty Shetland ponies and looked in wonder at the lions. However, when the elephants appeared, things didn’t go so smoothly. Elephants were always on the look-out for biscuits and other titbits, their luck was in when they passed by Mr F.A Turner’s shop in South Street. They soon noticed there were some bags of corn sitting outside the shop and even more delighted to find one was open! The keepers couldn’t move them on until they had enjoyed the feast and left behind a scattering of corn all over the street!

Missing elephants in Bridport

In 1958 Sir Robert Fossett’s Circus came to town. The elephant keeper turned up at Bridport station to collect his six elephants only to discover that they hadn’t arrived and the railway station staff knew nothing about this unexpected cargo. Rapid enquires were made up the railway line until it was discovered that the elephant trailer had been forgotten and left behind. The elephants did manage to join the rest of the circus by a later train, much to the keeper’s relief.

It is just as well we don’t still have elephants visiting Bridport and West Bay!

Images from the public

We are always interested to see old photographs of West Bay which we can share with our visitors, particularly if there is an interesting tale behind them. If you are sorting out old photographs during lockdown (or any other time) and find anything suitable that you are willing for us to copy and  share please contact us!

We were recently given this wonderful image of West Bay which is pre- 1920. Note the tall building which is now part of the Cornish Bakery was the first Custom House in West Bay. See below the same location as it looks today.


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