Bridport Visitor Guide
Bridport in Dorset, a brief insight into its history.
The town of Bridport lies around one and a half miles inland from the coast of West Bay, at the western end of Chesil Beach at the convergence of the rivers Brit and its Asker and Simene tributaries. It is a small market town and fishing port, for many years the main manufacturer of ropes in the country. Rope-making is the origin of Bridport's extremely wide streets, across which yarn, twine, and ropes spun and twisted in long gardens behind the houses were hung up to dry. The wide main streets of Bridport now contain more than a thousand listed buildings.
During Alfred the Great's reign from 871 to 899, he protected his Kingdom against the Danes by setting up defended settlements or burhs. 'Bridian' or the place at 'Bridi' was one such secure place. However, it seems that this defence was initially further east of the current position of Bridport, probably being centred on the River Bride. It may have later been moved to a more defensive position to the west, at 'Brydian' on the River Woth or Wooth, later renamed the River Brit.
By the time of King Athelstan’s reign of 924 to 939 Bridport was licensed to mint coins, which suggests the town had growing mercantile and trading interests. In the Doomsday Book in 1086, the word 'port' had been added to the town's name which suggests a trading town rather than having a harbour or port.
In 1272 records show the River Brit was navigable as far as Bridport at high tide by small flat bottomed ships, hinting that a harbour existed a mile inland on the southern boundary of the borough.
Bridport was granted its borough charter in 1253 during Henry III's reign. The area around Bridport was first-rate for growing hemp and flax used for rope and sail production. Rope from Bridport was also used for making hangmen's nooses. In face the noose was nicknamed 'a Bridport dagger'. At the time of Henry VIII the rope making industry in Bridport was so significant he ordered that all hemp grown within 5 miles of the town should be retained to make rope for his navy.
In 1554, Elizabeth I confirmed the right for Bridport to hold a twice weekly market and three annual fairs.
Charles II was nearly captured in 1651 by troops at the 'Old George Inn' in East Street after his defeat at the Battle of Worcester by Oliver Cromwell.
In 1685, the Duke of Monmouth's first conflict took place at the 'Bull Inn' in East Street during his failed attempt to overthrow his uncle, James II, from the throne.
On 12th November 1857, the Bridport Railway Company opened its branch line from Maiden Newton, through Powerstock to Bridport.
During the First World War (1914-1918), steel wire anti-submarine nets were manufactured in Bridport.
The town made the goal nets for England's football World Cup victory in 1966 and also supplies Wimbledon's tennis court nets.
Disclaimer: The information in this Tourist Guide has been researched from a variety of sources including books, articles and online information. While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information the reader should check any specific facts for themselves before making any decisions based upon the said information.
Bridport Tourist Information Centre
47 South Street
Bridport Community Hospital
Last Updated: 28 Apr 2015