Parish boundary sculptures at West Bay
Have you discovered the two new sculptures in West Bay? They are part of a sculpture project marking parish boundaries along the coast path.
Historically West Bay was split into two parish boundaries with the line running through the Bridport Arms! The east part of West Bay belongs to Burton Bradstock and the west side to Symondsbury. Plans to develop West Bay into a holiday resort rivalling Weymouth never materialised as the two major landowners wanted too much money from the developers. Today the boundaries have changed and the area around the harbour between the two new sculptures is now in Bridport!
At the bottom of the South West Coast path leading up to West Cliff is a wooden sculpture created by local designer and maker Alice Blogg. Look at the sculpture closely and you will notice it mentions the Wild Cat Strike which took place in Bridport. The period in history known as ‘The Great Unrest was between 1911-13 when cuts in wages resulted in more hardships.
On 9th February 1912, a group of women workers in the Gundry’s net and rope factory in Bridport walked out on unofficial strike against changes to their pay and conditions. The Bridport News reported that women strikers marched through the streets of Bridport singing the suffragette anthem ‘Shoulder to Shoulder’, with the protest documented by local photographer Clarence Austin. Some seventy women joined the National Federation of Women Workers and Gundry agreed with the union to give four weeks notice to any change in pay.
The sculpture on East Cliff has been produced by another local, Brendon Murless, who produces contemporary figurative sculptures.
The sculpture is made up of several lerret boats which were designed specifically to be used for fishing along this stretch of coast. There used to be 80-100 boats working along the coast between Bridport and Portland. On the cliffs spotters would look out for shoals of Mackerel. When the Mackerel were spotted, they would shout “Mackerel straying, Mackerel straying” to alert the boat below and direct them to the fish.
To find out more about fishing in West Bay past and present, look out for West Bay Discovery Centre’s pop up exhibition that will be running during Summer 2021.
To find out more about the other sculptures along the West Dorset Coast path that are part of this project see here.