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January 29, 2017

5 Things You May Not Know About Bridport

When thinking of our charming town of Bridport, you may already know that it is a magnet for exploring, browsing, walking, eating and sight-seeing but here are some things you may not know about the charming town.

Stabbed by a Bridport dagger

It’s not a local design of knife, but a hangman’s noose! Bridport was a major centre for hemp and flaxen ropemaking from the time of King John until recently, and was responsible for a time for making all the ropes, nets and rigging for the Royal Navy; later, fishing nets, football nets for the FA, tennis nets, and cargo nets for aircraft – the latter still being made locally of modern synthetic materials. Much of the work was done in the long back yards of houses in the town, and the wide main streets of the town were built that way to allow room for drying long ropes.

Bucky-Doo Square, rhymes with ??

This small cobbled area just in front of the Town Hall is a popular venue for shooting the breeze on a sunny day, or listening to one of the many informal Saturday morning concerts. But why the name? The origins are obscure – some say it was named for an Oxford prison called the Bocardo, others that there was once a pub called the Buck and Doe. However, given the fact that until recently there were public WCs there, perhaps rhyming slang is the more prosaic answer?

Sausages ancient and modern

Balson’s Butchers in West Street is said to be the oldest family-run business in England. It started as a market stall in 1515, when the butchers were to be found in the Shambles – where the animals brought to market were slaughtered in the street and the meat sold on the spot – essential in pre-refrigeration days. Bridport’s butchers (Framptons in the arches under the Town Hall being another fine example) now adhere, of course, to modern hygiene regulations –and sell a variety of delicious recipe sausages, cured meats, pies and cuts of locally-sourced meat (an eye-opener and palate-pleaser to anyone who has only ever eaten prepacked supermarket offerings).

Hats off to Bridport

Early September sees the Bridport Hat Festival, started by Mr Roger Snook who is the proprietor of a well-known hat emporium in South Street. It draws large crowds of behatted locals and visitors, from the demure titfer to extravagant constructions for the various competition classes, and a mass photograph is taken outside the Arts Centre to record the spectacle. Eccentric English behaviour and great fun – how can you not smile at someone with a life-sized swan balanced on their head or a dog in a hat?

A unique thatched brewery

– built in 1794, Palmers brewery in South Street is the only thatched brewery in the UK. You can find Palmers beer in many local hostelries, and daily brewery tours in the summer months give you the chance to see it being made, as well as sampling the goods! A well-stocked shop next door means you can take your favourite tipple home at the end of your stay.

Article and image by Lois Wakeman

Category: Bridport, Did You Know