Bridport & District


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In previous trips the Isn’t that interesting! group had visited the water supply works at Sutton Poyntz and the sewage works at Dorchester. They completed the story on 13 September by visiting the Sewage Pumping Station in Lyme Regis.

Above the pumping station With its entrance on the promenade, the pumping station is buried under the Gun Cliff sea defences near the Museum and Marine theatre at the bottom of the town. The lowest part of the system is about 8 metres below sea level so the whole plant is vast, extending along the promenade. It’s a combined sewage and rain water system with both of these inputs flowing under gravity into the plant.

At the pumps When sufficient is accumulated, powerful pumps switch on to send it about 200 metres across the town at about 50 metres below the ground level, then up to the sewage works near Uplyme (that wasn’t part of this visit. Here it’s settled and filtered more or less as at Dorchester but with additional UV treatment). The water outflow from the sewage works meets the requirements of EU bathing water regulations and flows under gravity through a pipe back to the pumping station and then 1.4km out to sea where it discharges.

At times of very heavy rainfall, the pumping and treatment system cannot keep up with the incoming volume of water. Thus the sea wall incorporates a huge 2000 cubic metre storm water storage tank that holds the excess, ready to be pumped and treated later.

In the pumping station At the end of the visit, the members were shown photographs of other parts of the disposal system and instructed that only the three Ps (pee, poo and paper) should be put into the system, nothing else, especially fat and the dreaded wet-wipes that cause massive, expensive problems.
As always, a most interesting visit (and virtually odour-free!)

Then, just like London buses, another visit came along straight afterwards.
On the following day, they visited ‘CNC sliding head turning specialists’ Finetec Precision Engineering on the Dreadnought Estate in Bridport.

Bar stock A small company, they take round metal (or sometimes plastic) bars and machine them to produce a wide variety of components. Some parts are vaguely recognisable but others are known only to the final customer.


Components Look carefully in the bottom right of the ‘components’ picture and you will see the smallest part they produce – about as big as an ant’s body – in batches of about 5000. It's inside the 'O'. The machines are essentially complex and fully automatic lathes that also incorporate milling and other similar cutting functions.

Machining The company is owned by husband and wife team Justin and Becky Jennings. Becky runs the office while Justin runs the workshop. He completed a machining apprenticeship and gained experience in the industry, went travelling with Becky, returned home and looked unsuccessfully (because of the recession) for a job. His last attempt was at Finetec. He was turned down because the then owner had put the company up for sale, so Justin and Becky bought it. Since then they have moved to their present unit, invested in more plant and taken on three more staff members.

A CNC machine Justin explained that he programmed the machines manually rather than using standard sequences because the resulting production was more efficient. He then demonstrated how the bars feed into the machines. A number of sequenced cutting processes take place and finished components emerge. Once the program has been proved, repeat production is very straight forward. The machines themselves were made by Citizen (of watch fame). They weigh more than a tonne and the precision is impressive. Parts can be machined to an accuracy of 0.01 mm (or 1/10 of a human hair diameter!).
The group were delighted to find yet another enterprising business in Bridport.

Expedition food from Pymore!

On August 20, the Isn’t That Interesting! group made a visit to yet another extraordinary business that you wouldn’t expect to find around here. Firepot produces dehydrated meals for expeditions,

Firepot fresh ingredients using fresh ingredients from local suppliers. As founder John Fisher says ‘As adventurists trekking through Greenland, we wanted our hikes to be punctuated by slow-cooked, natural food that tasted delicious. And we couldn’t find it anywhere. So (about three years ago) we made our own in Dorset’

Without any background in catering he experimented at home with a domestic food dryer, developed recipes and techniques, set up a business in a barn in North Chideock, outgrew it within a few months and moved to the present site in Pymore.

Firepot destinations He explained to the group that his customers are typically ‘characters’ who run ultra-marathons, cross Antarctica by bicycle, circumnavigate the UK on paddle-surfboards, and of course row the Atlantic and climb mountains. All of these adventurers must be self-sufficient and avoid carrying excess weight. They need to consume quantities of calories so dehydrated food is the answer. Just add hot water to the pouch, wait 15 minutes and tuck in..


Firepot oven The group were shown around the kitchens. Some of Firepot’s competitors simply blend pre-cooked and dried ingredients but here fresh ingredients are cooked, (often to customers’ specific requirements –‘No celery!’),

Firepot packing then dried and packed into pouches as individual portions. Not only does John run the company, he’s also developing and manufacturing his own drying oven, his present American ones being not up to the requirements of the expanding business.



Firepot - add water Firepot samples 1 The group then sampled the products, including beef stew, pasta Bolognese and porcini risotto. They all tasted and had the texture of ‘proper food’ and in no way resembled the Vesta curries of our youth!



The Isn’t That Interesting! group visited yet another unexpected Bridport business on 9 August. Crafty & Co design and manufacture an extraordinary range of products, using CNC (computer numerical controlled) equipment to cut and shape sheet wood, plastic and composite materials. When assembled, the finished products range from table lamps and storage units to custom car door linings and prefabricated building units. Aaron Leedham, whose business it is, started out with an Art degree but somehow drifted into machining. However, he has followed one of his student interests and makes a range of Hi-Fi speaker cabinets and turntable assemblies. Not surprisingly, his business is the only one like it in the area.

Crafty & Co 1 Crafty & Co 2 Crafty & Co 4 Crafty & Co 5

Coffee morning Friday 13th July 2018

Sybil Godden reports:-

This morning’s bi-monthly event was well attended with tea or coffee & biscuits much enjoyed (by most). There were several prospective members who seemed quite keen to join us. I managed to get one interested in the Travel Group which I have just taken over.

I described the Book Group 4 activities, which seemed to please; not as formal as perhaps they thought. It is very well run by Helen and we do not read newly published books. I learned that the Gardening Group has the same format in that they meet in each other’s houses and help each other in managing their gardens. We also talked about some of the Isn’t That Interesting group activities such as Dorchester Print and Weymouth’s Turbine House. The Lunch Club was discussed very enthusiastically.

Naturally we gossiped too, covering the Arts Centre’s recent makeover and its effect on the café, its staff and ambiance. None favourable; However the Art Gallery was considered very interesting with a member of the museum liking their exhibition. Bus Pass problems and buses cut-backs were moaned over, particularly the withdrawn routes to outlying villages and the affect the older non-drivers. The ‘Dial-a-Ride’ is not a good substitute, but adequate.
As we were clearing the hall of one of the helpers said how nice it is to sit and chat with agreeable people over coffee and biscuits. I thought so too; see you on September 14th in the WI Hall in North Street.

Architectural Fun Group

On a fantastic July afternoon 7 members of the Architectural Fun Group drove down to Fairmile, west of Ottery St Mary to visit the Elizabethan Manor House of Cadhay. The beautiful house dating from 1550 with connections to the present owner through the Poulett family from 1587, is set in formal gardens , walled kitchen garden, medieval fish ponds, cottage garden herbaceous borders and , across a ha-ha, extensive parkland.We spent an hour exploring and admiring the gardens and exterior of the house before having a guided tour of the interior.
The present owner lives nearby but the Manor House is an holiday let and wedding venue so has been beautifully restored and furnished as a comfortable home sleeping 22people. The rooms still displayed Elizabethan features in their fireplaces, plaster work ceilings, original windows and fragments of stone carvings. Upstairs was a long gallery which was unaltered and a dining room with an unusual 'Exeter style' beamed ceiling . Externally were Tudor chimneys and window frames and a sense of symmetry. The internal courtyard had walls of flint and stone making a chequered design and the door frames were of soft sand coloured Somerset stone. After our tour we indulged ourselves in a Devon cream tea in the sunshine on the terrace, a habit we might continue. A thoroughly lovely visit which can be recommended. However as it is a letting property, it is only open to the public on Friday afternoons .
Diana, Valerie, Margaret, Wendy, Tim, Liz , Philip
To view a "Picture of House" or "The visitors" click the link.