Town Hall memories wanted

Looking WestAs part of the Bridport Town Hall Heritage and Conservation project, Bridport Town Council is working with Bridport Museum to capture and record the memories and stories of local people and their connections with the Town Hall.

For over 200 years the Town Hall has been the civic centre of Bridport but in addition to hosting Council meetings, the Town Hall has also been used as a magistrates court and has hosted a wide variety of community events.  Within living memory local people were quite reluctant to enter the Town Hall.  The phrase “going up over Town Hall steps” came to mean an appearance before the Magistrates Court.

From the outset, the trustees of the new Town Hall building resolved in 1787, that the Council Chamber should be used for ‘all convenient public purposes’.  There has however been a sense of decorum as to what is deemed suitable within such an important and influential building and in 1965
the Dave Welsh All Star Promotions were refused hire of the facilities for All Star wrestling.

Princess Margaret, Bridport 1953The Town Hall has always been at the heart of Bridport.  In 1914 it was the focus for a march past of local volunteers on their way to war.  In 1919 there was a peace parade outside the building of survivors of the Great War and during the Second World War between 1939 – 1943 crowds gathered to sing patriotic songs.  A model thermometer stood against the building recording the sums raised for the war effort.

In 1953 Princess Margaret visited the town and spoke outside the Town Hall to celebrate the Queen’s coronation.

Butchers shops and market stalls have also always been on or around the site of the Town Hall since it was built and it was not until 1946 that the lower market was demolished to make way for a taxi rank. Surprisingly the open area to the South of the Town Hall only became known as Bucky Doo Square in about 1995.

Activities Coordinator, Crystal Johnson said “We are looking for personal stories about the Town Hall – maybe an event you attended, a remembered detail that’s been replaced, something that happened in the centre of town.  Also we would love to see your old photographs or other related items”

“Unless we capture and collect this information now it will be lost forever.  The Town Hall is at the heart of Bridport and we want to use Bridport’s memories to bring it alive for everyone. All information gathered with be preserved by Bridport Museum and much of it used to tell people about the building’s past when it opens to the public at the end of 2011.”

To get in touch with Crystal please call 07968 577867