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Bridport Literary and Scientific Institute Proposal Summary

Mission: To promote an understanding of and engagement with local industrial heritage and history, its place in people’s lives, its national and international impact and context

Statue inside the Literary and Scientific Institute, Bridport. Photograph by Vince O'Farrell.

THE PROPOSED project will restore and renovate the Literary and Scientific Institute in East Street, Bridport, as a discovery centre for local industrial heritage and history. The building will be run and managed by Bridport Museum Service (BMS). BMS will rationalise and consolidate its two existing sites into a single site at the LSI. The building will become a landmark venue for the study of rope and net, interpreting the unique industries of the area and positioning Bridport within a local, national and international context.

From Wimbledon to Wembley, Hermes handbags to aircraft seat belts, space exploration to international conflict, Bridport rope and net has a global presence. It has shaped not only the social and economic profile of the town but also the physical structure of its streets and the contours of the surrounding landscape.

The centre will offer a combination of conservation, research, education and entertainment. It will promote the past but look to become a museum for the future by prioritising quality, innovation, interaction and sustainability in all aspects of its operation.

The centre will become a resource for local schools, colleges and the community. It will develop a targeted programme of talks, workshops and activities to encourage and support a broad base audience and attract visitors from outside the area. There are few local attractions and very little provision for residents and visitors in inclement weather: the centre will address this need and provide all weather, all season attraction in the heart of the town, which is itself at the centre of the Jurassic Coast.

The renovation of the building will allow for exploration and application of energy efficient and environmentally friendly technologies to a listed building so creating a case study for the museums and heritage sector, whilst reducing long term running costs. The capital work on the building will be structured to allow a number of individual research and development projects. Local schools and colleges will be offered the opportunity to work with industry experts to explore the historical generation of power for local industry and investigate how past methodologies might be adapted and combined with new innovations to create a sustainable building.

Traditional skills training will be incorporated into the capital element of the project so offering ‘hands on’ learning and volunteering opportunities in practical restoration and renovation of a listed building. In this respect the project would look to form partnership with local and regional educational organisations notably Bridport Local Area Skills Training (BLAST) and Weymouth College.

In addition to heritage based displays the building will incorporate state of the art conservation storage, research centre, audio visual facilities, meeting/lecture space, office space for museum staff and a café. The project will aim to build strong and sustainable relationships with local education providers, local industry and the local community.