From Bridport’s ropemaking hub to trading estate, Dreadnought holds steadfast

From Bridport’s ropemaking hub to trading estate, Dreadnought holds steadfast

Dreadnought Early days Pic 5

Like the stalwart battleship after which it is named, Dreadnought Trading Estate has been a steadfast presence for Bridport businesses for decades.
The land which the estate stands on has been a central part of the town’s industry since the 13th century – beginning life as a hub of rope, net and sailcloth production for fishermen with warehouses, yards and allotments also on the land.

Through a series of mergers and acquisitions, maritime rigging manufacturer Rendall and Coombs, the first owners of the site, sold a small plot of what is now the trading estate to Gundry and Co Ltd in 1968.
The plot purchased by Gundry was accessible via a road from West Street into the North East corner of the estate, where there are now flats.
The remainder of what is now the Dreadnought Trading Estate was acquired during four further deals during the 1970s and early 80s.

The River Simene originally ran in a wide loop through where the estate is and there was an old stone mill, originally rented by Dom Townsend of Townsend Engineering, by the river in the South East corner of the land.
The estate owners remeandered and ‘straightened’ the river in the early 1970s using excavators and built the first of two bridges, allowing access from Magdalen Lane instead of West Street.
Unfortunately, the old stone mill was also demolished in the 1970s.

Dreadnought Early days Pic 4
There was also another stone building with a rounded roof next to the river, approximately where Bridport Timber and Flooring is now, which was part of the original Rendall and Coombs site.
The oldest units on the estate – numbered 4 to 6 – were occupied by car body specialist Brian Smith until his recent retirement.
These units were built on the site of one of the old rope walks which originally ran from behind what is now part of unit 18a, to just in front of garage Greig & Allen in unit 22.
It is believed part of the old brick piers from the estate’s original rope walks are still visible inside these units.
By 1982 units 1 and 2 had been built and numbered retroactively with Grieg & Allen as the first occupants.
Speaking about what makes Dreadnought Trading Estate such a good place to be based, Alicia Matthews, co-owner and finance director of Greig and Allen, said: “Our business has been around on the estate for more than 40 years and it’s a great location for us.

Dreadnought Early days Pic 2

“You can drop off your car for a service or MOT and pop into town for a coffee while you wait. We have two units on the estate, including G&A Commercial, so our neighbours are lovely because they’re us!
“Joking aside, we’ve been here so long we know pretty much everyone on the estate and get on well with them.”
Echoing the sentiment that neighbouring businesses on the estate cooperate well, Heath Thresher, salesman for windows, doors and conservatories business Hussey and Briggs said: “We’ve been on the estate for over 20 years and there’s a nice variety of businesses around here.
“I think that’s helpful for drawing people in and helps to keep our business name out there.
“There’s lots of footfall on the estate, since it’s close to residential areas and has good footpaths. All the businesses on the estate seem to get on really well.”
Dreadnought Trading Estate manager Lesley Wilson said: “I think there’s a variety of reasons the estate is so popular. It’s been around for a long time and people in the town know it well.
“We have a variety of sizes of units available, from small lock ups to larger warehouse units.
“In Bridport a lot of business happens by word of mouth.
“There’s a nice atmosphere between the unit occupants and their relationship with the management is good – we’re really here to solve problems for our tenants.”
Lesley added: “Despite the area’s history, this is a forward-looking trading estate and we’re here to drive business in the town.”

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