Some information on Bridport
The town was founded many centuries ago, and by the time of the Norman conquest consisted of over 100 homes and a priory. There was also a mint producing local currency.
Bridport is famous for nets, twine and ropes, which records show have been made here since the 13th century. However much earlier, in Roman times, hemp and flax were grown in the area and the industry could be much older than the records suggest. The town grew up round the rope industry, which developed during the Middle Ages following King John's request that the townsfolk make 'night and day as many ropes for ships both large and small and as many cables as you can.' The town has a grid of long straight alleys once 'rope-walks' where the ropes were twisted and laid in long rope walks extending from the backs of houses as part of a cottage industry. Such was the fame of Bridport rope that those who ended their days on the gallows were said to have been 'stabbed by a Bridport dagger'. The town is still Britain's main source for twine.
Bridport and the nearby harbour at West Bay, also dating from the 14th century, reached their peak of prosperity in the 18th and 19th century, corresponding with Britain's sea power in the age of sail. Many of the houses which can be seen in South Street today were built during this period. For more than 700 years Bridport has been at the forefront of net-making technology and among a number of local firms, the Bridport-Gundry group is today a world leader in the production of specialist textiles and nets. Bridport made nets are used by fishing fleets all over the world. Bridport-Gundry also make a whole range of other nets, including the arrester nets used by the Space Shuttle, equipment used by leading international airlines and those used at the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships
There is a Tudor museum and a Georgian town hall. Much of the present town was constructed in the 18th century, with the wealth generated by producing ropes and netting for the Royal Navy. There are a number of Antique shops in the town.
Situated on the banks of the river, on the southern edge of the town is J.C. and R.H. Palmers, the local brewers, who occupy what is believed to be the last thatch-roofed brewery in England. Over two hundred years old, the brewery is very much the traditional, family-run business. The Palmer family took over the brewery in about its fiftieth year, and have been building up the business ever since. The emphasis has always been on tradition - not only in their attitude towards the brewing process, but also towards their employees and the local community. First impressions of the brewery, apart from the thatched roof on some of the older buildings, are of its well organized and beautifully functional equipment - lots of lovely Victorian brewing equipment and even a proper copper (they're usually stainless steel these days). The brewery has always made the most of the river on whose banks it lies. In the past, the beer was transported to its destination by boat, though nowadays the river there is no longer navigable. Power for the brewery has been drawn from the river by means of a water wheel. That is, until a few years ago when the wheel's huge cast iron shaft broke under the force of the river's flow. Plans are afoot however to restore it to its former glory.