Work underway at West Bay Discovery Centre

Plans are coming together to restore West Bay’s former Methodist Church and transform it into the West Bay Discovery Centre.

Bridport Area Development Trust, the local charity behind the project, has announced that after a formal tender process, R&C Building Conservation of Shaftesbury have been appointed the contract to deliver the construction-related part of the project.

Angel Architecture involvement

Trust Director John West said: ‘We are delighted with this appointment. R & C Conservation have plenty of experience of historic and ecclesiastical buildings. They will be working closely with our Project Manager, Daryl Chambers and Architect Kim Sankey of Angel Architecture to repair and adapt the 170-year-old chapel so that it will continue to be an iconic landmark feature in West Bay.’

John added: ‘At the same time we are working with Bristol-based designers Smith and Jones to create an exciting scheme for the interior of the Discovery Centre. It will provide a treasure trove of information for people to explore, both inside and outside the building.’

Building work on the site is planned to take 16 weeks.

With the structural repairs and the internal works complete, the Discovery Centre is scheduled to open to visitors in mid to late summer.

Specialist workshop on looking after old buildings

Kim Sankey of Angel Architecture in Charmouth is organising a workshop for owners of old buildings. The session also includes stonemason, plaster and renders specialist Matthew Gee of Uplyme, and former North Dorset District Council Conservation Officer Kevin Morris from Dorchester.

The half-day workshop is being held on The Cobb in the fascinating old building that also houses the aquarium.

‘Old buildings can be a minefield when it comes to doing work on them,’ says Kim.

‘It’s best to choose materials and techniques carefully and use experienced craftspeople with the right skills. If the building is listed, you always need listed building consent before any work can start, unless you are carrying out repairs.

‘I’ve had many people say to me “if only we had known in advance, we could have avoided so many pitfalls.” That’s why I decided to run this workshop. Plus finding out more about old buildings is always a fascinating process. You learn so much about the way people used to live.

‘West Dorset has a high number of old buildings, most of them listed. They add to the special character of the area and deserve to be cherished.’

Kim has worked on many landmark Dorset buildings, including the recent improvements to Bridport Arts Centre, Bridport Town Hall and the work in progress on West Bay Chapel. She has also advised numerous homeowners.

Matthew Gee’s most prominent project to date was repairing the stonework on The Cobb at Lyme Regis, a Grade I listed ancient monument. Matthew trained in Bath and Italy and has a deep, practical understanding of traditional lime mortars and renders.

Kevin Morris used to be the principal conservation officer for the London Borough of Bromley before he worked for North Dorset District Council. A chartered town planner and a member of the Institute of Historic Building Conservation, he now runs his own consultancy.

The workshop covers:

  • Planning issues, including listed building consent
  • Materials and techniques suitable for old buildings
  • Ecological considerations, including bats and trees
  • Budgeting and project management

There are limited spaces and booking is essential. For bookings and further details, see Angel Architecture on Eventbrite.