As part of Bridport Town Council’s Town Hall Heritage and Conservation project, a group of year 9 students from Colfox spent a stone themed day in Purbeck with local stone mason Karl Dixon. First stop was Lovells Quarry where the students saw the ‘hole’ where the Town Hall floor is being quarried and witnessed the various stages of processing that the stone will need to go through before it is delivered to the Town Hall ready to lay as finished tiles. One of the students said, “The quarry was amazing. You were looking at something which hadn’t been seen by any eyes for over 150 million years. I even touched a fossilised turtle which had been found and fossilised dinosaur footprints. I couldn’t believe that these creatures may once have stood exactly where I stood”.
Following this the students spent 2 hours learning the basic skills of stonemasonry at the Burford Centre, where they really got to grips with the craft. ”At first, with my chisel and hammer in hand I thought stone masonry would be an easy task, but half an hour later I had blisters (almost), a small shallow line and a hole in the stone where I had accidently stuck a chisel in!”
Funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, the project is just one of a number of community based projects which are being led by local artists as part of the Town Hall restoration. The aim of the projects is to give the local community hands on opportunities to be part of the restoration project and to develop a greater understanding of the heritage of the building and the skills that are involved in its restoration.
“A few months ago we would walk over a tiled floor or walk past a carved wall and have no idea how much time and effort had gone into it. Now after spending a super day (in the sun!) walking in Purbeck “Rock factory” and spending 2 amazing fun hours carving something which vaguely resembled a leaf, we have realized what a great and skilful process stone masonry and quarrying is. We would like to say thank you to the Town Council for organising this trip, we thoroughly enjoyed it! We are looking forward to continuing working on designs for the new Town Hall floor as we believe strongly that this space in the beautiful Town Hall should be used and that it is a great project for a great town – BRIDPORT!”
Other local groups are involved in different elements of the Town Hall project and later this week community artist Darrell Wakelam will begin a series of workshops with local disability groups and young parents to develop an artwork for the interior of the new lift.