Bridport is a busy and lively market town in West Dorset some 1.5 miles from the English Channel near the confluence of the River Brit and its tributary the Asker. Its origins are Saxon and it has a long history as the centre of rope-making. On the coast, and within the town’s boundary, is West Bay a small fishing harbour once known as Bridport Harbour. Bridport is twinned with Saint-Vaast-la-Hougue, France. During the reign of King Alfred, the town became one of the four most important settlements in Dorset with the construction of fortifications and establishment of a Mint. In 1253 it was awarded its first charter by Henry III and two members were subsequently sent to Parliament. In the 14th and 15th centuries Bridport, like other Dorset coastal towns, suffered heavy losses due to the Black Death and attack from raiding French and Spanish forces. Since the Middle Ages, the town has long been associated with the production of rope and nets for ships both large and small but the industry went into decline late in the 20th century.
With the new Millennium Bridport has flourished into a bustling and vibrantly energetic community with Street Markets on Wednesdays and Saturdays and a Vintage Quarter selling almost everything on a daily basis. The town has become a very popular destination for those who wish to explore the Jurassic Coastline – now a World Heritage Site – and attracts artists and writers who have found inspiration from the landscape and coastline since they settled here. Visitors flock from much further afield to enjoy the many annual festivals that take place in and around the town including the unique Hat Festival and the Bridport Literary Festival now in its 18th year.