A trading estate in Bridport has earned a following among the cool kids, having been transformed from a derelict netmaking area to something resembling Carnaby Street over its 54 years.
One of Bridport’s seven industrial estates – whoever knew that many were squeezed in to such a small town? – St Michael’s is effortlessly cool.
Now known as Bridport’s arts and vintage quarter, there’s of course, lots of creative and funky producers here, as well as collectors of all sorts, antiques emporia and vintage items of all shapes and sizes.
Here you can view Billy Mumford’s famed forgeries at Global Art & Antiques, browse the lots at Bridport Auctions and greet a life-sized David Bowie at Clocktower Music, which is full to bursting with fantastic vinyl.
Alongside all this creative splendour, other businesses have sprung up. You can also buy domestic appliances, car parts, headstones and more here.
The estate was first conceived when Londoner Norman Hayward Senior, then aged 60, arrived in Bridport with his two sons, Clive and Norman Junior. The estate, laid out over six acres, was partially derelict. Net and rope making production had stopped years before and transferred to other parts of the town. So the Haywards set about transforming the estate into a number of small and not so small units – a significant task that kept the family occupied for several years, undertaking much of the work themselves.
His two sons continued those traditions. Today Norman Hayward is still meeting the needs of a variety of tenants and over the years many hundreds of businesses have benefited from this approach. Clive Haywood died in 2019, having been instrumental in the development of the estate.
Some businesses have gone on to outgrow St Michael’s, such as Par Acoustics, Top Gear, Clipper Teas, Lilliput Textiles and Coastal Nets.
A spokesman said: “But not all businesses here seek to grow and expand – many are just happy to survive and continue as they are; family businesses in particular. They are just as important to St Michael’s and just as welcome.”
Once a month, on the last Sunday, traders gather at St Michael’s for the vintage market, when many of the tenants of the estate open their doors to show off their wares and the shoppers pour in to bag their heart’s desire and have a slice of cake. It’s all great fun.
One shopper, who only discovered the estate by chance this week, said: “I thought it was amazing – such a great atmosphere and so many great shops.”