“Investment in the historic heart of a community creates and safeguards jobs, transforms local economies, attracts people to the area and helps to create a safe and stable environment for everyone living and working there.” Sir Neil Cossons OBE, Chairman, English Heritage.

One of Bridport’s celebrated assets is the strength of community found here, and this is central to the Enterprise St Michael’s scheme. The strong community and the desire to retain and improve the area, is the very basis for the emergence of the Industrial and Provident Society.

Residents of West Dorset, or regular visitors, will tell you how Bridport’s cultural activities far exceed expectations for a town of its size. In a Citizens Panel Survey April 2009, 78% agreed that ‘access to cultural activities help to make Dorset a better place and when engaged, contribute to an improved quality of life.’

The photo below shows The Trick Factory (established in 1999 by local legend Robert Ridge), home to an International BMX contest in 2004. It is built into the historic Stover Works building and has much potential to expand into the unused part. When previously under threat of demolition in 2009, a petition to save it on Facebook received over 5,000 responses.

The Trick Factory established in 1999 by local legend Robert Ridge.

The Trick Factory established in 1999 by local legend Robert Ridge.

“The importance of St Michael’s was first illustrated to me by Robert Ridge, who showed me the Trick Factory. Robert is a saint, and what a tremendous boon he has given to our community through 15 years of dedication and commitment. This one element of the trading estate offered unparalleled opportunities for young kids trying to burn off energies, and it seemed a crime to do anything other than preserve it. We helped coordinate a ‘Save the Trick Factory’ campaign which attracted 5,000 supporters in a little over a weekend, illustrating a depth of local feeling that should give any elected politician pause. Over several years, I have come to know many of the other people in the area, and it is the heart of Bridport. The manner in which the District Council has approached the development seems, to me, to be at odds with the most basic interests of our town, but there are very positive alternatives that could satisfy everyone.”

Clive Stafford Smith OBE
International Civil Rights Lawyer
Director, Reprieve

Local Food Links, delivering school meals

Local Food Links, delivering school meals.

Coastal nets

Coastal nets.

Local Integration

At St Michael’s, local businesses, local production and individual services benefit from the close integration with the town. With so many small businesses together, great advantages are enjoyed though the ‘cluster effect’. Firms often buy from each other, pass work on, or cooperate on a project. Local hotels have noticed an increase in bookings on weekends when the Vintage Market is held at St Michael’s.

Contrary to national trends, here in Bridport, people like to shop locally. As an alternative to hypermarkets or chain stores, St Michael’s provides an opportunity to access several needs in one place. Almost everyone knows each other, and in general, both tenants and visitors can enjoy a great sense of co-operation.

Wessex Wines

Wessex Wines

The Trick factory

The Trick factory

Martin Bell coachbuilding

Martin Bell coachbuilding

The Red Brick CafĂ©, The Trick factory, St Michael’s Studios, The Local Food Centre and the Vintage Market are all good examples of how St Michael’s can bring people together in the community.

With this in mind and the increasing number of visitors, Enterprise St Michael’s aims to widen the appeal and make the estate an attractive and welcoming environment for all visitors.

This diversity and individuality has evolved organically and Enterprise St Michael’s believes this represents an important part of Bridport’s character that should be preserved and encouraged. Any development here should depend on local skills, labour and materials wherever possible.

There is also much scope to expand opportunities for youth, training, indoor sports and education on this site, including an apprenticeship scheme involving local businesses. Such specialist facilities can serve an area of up to 30 miles around Bridport, where no similar attractions can be accessed.

The Vintage Market in 2011, banned by landowners in 2012. Its success and popularity was thought to pose a threat to a proposed housing development.

The monthly Vintage Market which is run by a group of traders, popular with residents and visitors alike.


Enterprise St Michael’s is run entirely by volunteers and professionals have given their services free of charge. The directors, also working on a voluntary basis, meet regularly (minuted) to coordinate and develop the scheme.

Membership subscription contributed by members of the public helps to fund printing, hall hire, this website and postage etc. Members’ meetings are held several times through the year to open discussion on protecting and developing the site and business community.

Joy and Anna, here discussing recipes, established the popular and unique Red Brick Café in 2010.

Joy and Anna, here discussing recipes, established the popular and unique Red Brick Café in 2010.

The Team of Volunteers


Glenn Crawford Development
Richard Payne-Withers Finance
Andrew Leppard Communications
Kit Glaisyer Secretary
Ros Kayes Governance

Main Contributors

Tim Crabtree Social Enterprise consultant
Dr Chris Pike Community right to bid
Leslie Archibald Meetings Secretary
Chris Leigh Management structure Consultant
Jaki Rabbets Treasurer
Lawrence Alexander Promotion
Robert Wheelwright Architect
Alan Bell Architectural Draughtsman
Victoria Upton Project Management
Bron Jones Project Management
David Witham Business Consultant
Bob Chard Town Planning Consultant
Mike Harvey Trade and Commerce
Richard Toft Renewable Energy Consultant
Penny Monro Canvassing
Adam Sliwa Film production
Kate Robertson Photography
Louise Allen Photography
Chris Hornby Aerial Photography
Spike Golding Graphics and logo
Nicola Ross Martin Tax Consultant
Elizabeth Friend Public Relations
Teressa McMann Admin + distribution
Vicky Stride Admin + distribution
Katherine Locke Editorial Services
Nick Morris Website design

Links with local Institutions

Chamber of Trade and Commerce
Bridport Local Area Partnership
Bridport Environment Group
Bridport Area Development Trust
Bridport Renewable Energy Group
Campaign for the Protection of Rural England
Bridport Transition Town Group
Bridport and District Tourist Association
West Dorset District Council
Dorset County Council

Supporting Statements

Rt Hon Oliver Letwin, Constituency MP

“It is truly remarkable to see the emergence over the last decade or so of a hugely thriving and incredibly innovative business and cultural quarter despite the condition of the buildings in this area of Bridport, but I have been talking to a group who break the mould. They have formed a provident society, which is proposing an interesting and exciting alternative.

What makes the proposal so interesting is the aim to put together a package that can use a range of funding from local and other sources to purchase the site and then gradually improve it while preserving both the remarkable vitality and variety of its businesses and the thriving artistic community with its growing national profile.

Given that Bridport needs not only more houses, but also more jobs and more economic and cultural activity, a solution that involves building more houses elsewhere in the area and gradually renovating St Michael’s as a business and cultural centre seems enormously attractive.”

West Dorset District Council Local Plan – Community Plan Vision

Bridport will:

  • Protect the built heritage of the town, the surrounding nationally-designated landscape and the floodplain, along with the countryside views and green spaces that contribute to the town’s character.
  • Focus development on meeting local needs for jobs and housing, providing opportunities for young people to stay in the area and exploring innovative and sustainable ways of meeting these needs.
  • Aim to become a low impact sustainable town, building on its reputation for local food and produce, and developing sustainable tourism.

The Localism Act, Planning Reforms

Greg Clarke, Minister of Planning, Sept 2011

“Our reforms will put power back in the hands of the local people to decide the areas they wish to see developed and those to be protected.”

“Our reforms underline the importance of town centers.”

“Businesses in rural areas must be free to expand.”

“People that live in the places, and work in the places they love actually do have an interest in wanting them to thrive in the future- they want them to retain the character that sometimes they have lost through development being imposed from above.”