19 February 2007
Posted in THE NEWS - BRIDPORT NEWS & VIEWS
Are you finding it hard to find reasonably priced accommodation? Is buying a house at these inflated prices out of the question? Have our villages and local services suffered at the hands of 'weekenders'? Do you think champagne socialist Billy Bragg and other celebrities incomers are any good for the area? Is the self absorbed Hugh Fearnley making the public perception of Dorset a bunch of carrot crunchers? Reproduced below is an article from the Observer that makes my Bridportian blood boil.
Why everyone flocks to 'Notting Hill on Sea'
Vanessa Thorpe, arts and media correspondent
Sunday February 18, 2007
Of course, it is not just any old fleapit. It is the Electric Palace, a glorious Twenties building straight from the romantic days of cinema. And the town is not just any old market town; it is Bridport in Dorset, suddenly the place where everyone wants to be seen. The extraordinary cinema - chief patron Richard Eyre, director of Notes on a Scandal will be the final piece of the jigsaw of this Notting Hill on Sea.
'These are very exciting times for Bridport,' confirms one of the town's well-known residents, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. 'It has got a proper arts scene going.'
The television chef puts its new-found fortune down to the town's creative history. The area was formerly home to both an independent art school and to a progressive college for excluded students at Symondsbury.
'There was a bohemian generation in Bridport in the early Sixties,' said Fearnley-Whittingstall. 'We are into the second generation now and, although the younger generation may leave for a time, they tend to come back.'
Next to the charity shops in Bridport's main street, a new breed of serious eating establishment has taken root. It is the kind of change that happened in Ludlow, Shropshire, a decade ago, or in Padstow in Cornwall more recently, but here it is coupled with the cultural activity associated with [another Cornish resort,] St Ives. And of course, house prices are climbing, as more and more Londoners are lured by the open space and urban chic.
A beach hut on the coast next to Bridport went on the market for £500,000 last year. True, it was a two-bedroom beach hut, but prices like this are forcing rural workers and fishermen out of the running.
Estate agents cannot keep up with demand: some four-bedroom period houses have put on £100,000 in the past two years. Many modest family properties are pushing up to £300,000.
Richard Cooper, owner and manager of the Bull, who left his job in the music business in London to move to the town, said: 'There is an incredibly eclectic mix of people. They do come from everywhere.' Mick Jagger is among fans of the town's nationally famous fish restaurant, The Riverside, on Bridport's West Bay, which has been described by food critic Mario Wyn-Jones as 'one of the only genuine seafood restaurants along the whole south coast of England'.
Literature is an important part of the Bridport scene too, with an annual prize for poetry and short stories which has been running since 1973 and has an international reputation. In the early days of the competition, which is anonymous, about 5,000 entry forms went out: by 1999, the number was 250,000.
Reproduced from http://observer.guardian.co.uk/uk_news/story/0,,2015679,00.html
Read associated article BLOODY TOWNIES