Bridport & District

News Archive

Down the drain in Lyme?

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!)

How big? How many?

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!


Woodwork (but not as you know it)

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

Be prepared?

The Isn’t That Interesting! group visited A.G. Down undertakers in June to see what was in store for them and they came out very well-informed. Director Karen Hussey explained some of the history of the half a dozen local undertakers that make the group, Down being Bridport‘s. She spoke about the various options available including the choice of coffin – veneered chipboard, wicker, wool, cardboard . . .religious and non-religious ceremonies, ‘processing’ including burial, cremation, freeze-drying, solution in caustic soda . . . what you can do with ashes, how to donate your body to science . . . local rules about headstones . . . She emphasised the desirability of making one’s wishes known to the family – just a note behind the clock is sufficient.

Down Then it was off for a tour of the facilities including the coffin stock,


Down the stone mason’s workshop, the body reception area and the hearse and limousine. It all provided a fascinating insight and came with a generous helping of humour.


Gardens & Gardening 1 hard at work at Dawn Armstrong's garden, enjoying the sunshine at their meeting on 14th May.

Gardens Group 1 There was some discussion on the uses of vinegar in the garden (more than you might think!). They also enjoyed a walk around the garden and seeing the brilliant colours of the rhododendrons and azaleas, plus admiring the burgeoning vegetable plot. There was a look at the proposed development of a new area and some design ideas were put forward. The cake was good too!'

Members of Gardens and Gardening 2 in action!

Gardens 2-2 Gardens 2-3 Gardens 2-4 Gardens 2-5 Gardens 2-1

Following an operation, Christina Walker is in need of some help in her garden, so Myrtle Pacey, Joan Sinnott and Pat Grafton got stuck into a bit of weeding! With a welcome tea break, of course!

A Walk on the Wild(ish) Side … of Wales, by Penny Deacon

Glyndwr Di, Di, Mary & I, Marilyn, Robert and Steve (all members of the Hikers Group) … leapt into assorted cars and headed for Machynlleth on April 29 for 5 days’ jolly exploring.



The cottage Marilyn’s cottage, deep in forestry lands, has metre thick walls, a barn (complete with owl, and possibly owls) and everything necessary for comfort: enormous log fire with plenty of logs, indoor plumbing and a wonderful shower with endless hot water. We brought our own hot water bottles.


Wynford Vaughan Thomas memorial We climbed up to Glas Lyn via the Wynford Vaughan Thomas memorial which not only offers stunning views but also an excellent bench for a well-earned lunch.


Lyn Cau below Cadair Idris On from there to the lake and back down on slippery slate chippings (Di 2, who had a painful ricked knee was impressively stalwart). Looking back from what Diana calls The Dipper Bridge (no dippers to be seen) I was amazed to realise just how far and high we’d climbed. I think this one was our longest at around 11 miles.


A picnic Next day was ‘a short walk’ up one side and down the other of the Llyfnant Valley. An interesting additional detour required a retreat and recalibration but we found a very pretty glade overlooking the river, with convenient felled trees for seats, just in time for lunch.

And got back to the cars as the drizzle started. This didn’t deter us from visiting the Osprey Centre, complete with water buffaloes as well as ospreys, which is highly recommended. There was also at least one cuckoo.

Wednesday was Barmouth for most of us – the sun came out soon after we arrived (and had enjoyed some excellent coffee). This was more of a stroll than a walk: we crossed the railway bridge and watched the tide rush out, revealing the sands where birds scurried for goodies. Sat on beachside benches for lunch like a posse of trippers.


Climbing to the summit And on Thursday Diana, Steve, Robert and I climbed Cader Idris. I thought it would be hard at the end – but it’s the start that’s a shock to the system although the steep clamber up along the waterfall is worth it when you get to the lake two thirds of the way to the top. And we didn’t quite make the summit.

We were probably less than half an hour off when the mist and cloud came down and discretion (plus the thought of the descent over slippery wet stones) became the better part of valour.

And Friday was clean house and head home. Brilliant!

Remember: if you go down to the woods (Welsh) and hills you will need …
1. Someone who understands glacial geology and can explain river capture.
2. Someone who can dissect owl pellets
3. Someone willing to make porridge every morning – and is good at it
4. The same someone who brings sweets (Werthers Originals, but other brands are available) and produces them just before you realise you are longing for something sweet
5. A hot water bottle unless you have chosen to stay in a hotel
6. The ability to eat nachos followed by fish and chips and still go walking next day
7. And a group of people who enjoy walking and who will encourage each other, identify birds by their calls, know exactly where we are on the map, and make excellent company.

No smoke, no fire

Bridport Fire Station In April, a dozen members of the Isn’t That Interesting group were shown round Bridport Fire Station by Station Officer Nick Courtice and Watch Manager Steve Pask. They explained that most fire stations in Dorset, including Bridport, operate with retained firefighters who all have full time ‘normal’ jobs but respond instantly when paged to attend. They have to be able to get to the fire station within four minutes of a call out. The first person to arrive checks the incident sheet that is sent to the station, and starts up the appropriate appliance. As soon as sufficient crew have arrived, it’s all aboard and off to the incident, typically within five minutes of the initial call. It seems that Bridport attend a wider range of incidents that most others in the area. There are a few major fires, Parnham being a good example but generally it’s traffic accidents, fire alarms, chimney and thatch fires, flood and mud rescues and helping the ambulance service to break into buildings to reach unconscious patients.
One of their more unusual jobs occurred recently, following police around Salisbury, decontaminating where necessary during the ‘Russian Spy’ incident.

The four-wheel-drive The U3A visitors were then shown over the appliances. There was a ‘standard’ fire engine, equipped with hoses and ladders, but also medical equipment including a defibrillator, hydraulic cutters and spreaders to prise crashed cars open, flood lights . . . even spare warm clothing for incident victims. The second ‘fire engine’ is a 4-wheel-drive version that can go anywhere that’s wide enough and the third is a special unit that can be fitted with either a decontamination station (in case of chemical and similar incidents) or a large water tank to support the other appliances at major fires, especially useful as the standard appliances can empty their own on-board water tanks in about 40 seconds.

A most interesting visit.

The Interesting Group’s ascent of ‘Mount Bridport’

On the South Face In March, the ‘Isn’t That Interesting! Group visited Rockburn, the indoor 'rock' climbing centre in Bridport. Their first challenge was to get into tight climbing shoes when they had been hoping to get by with their comfortable trainers.

After a safety briefing, it was onto the lower slopes to practice using the foot- and hand-holds by traversing across the face a couple of times. Will, the instructor, corrected their technique, encouraging them to use their toes rather than their flat feet and then it was on to a higher traverse over a massively exposed drop (of about 6’ with nice soft safety mats underneath) and round The Blind Corner. After a little more instruction on how to climb vertically, it was straight up the mighty South Face (all 15’ of it). The Group was then let loose to explore routes at will until exhaustion finally set in.

As they rested at the foot of the cliff, they admired the strength, skill and advanced technique of the next group on the slopes – the 6-8 year old girls’ after-school club who did it all so much better!

Will she, won’t she?

Members of the Exploring Opera group are midway through watching Bellini’s “Norma”, using a DVD borrowed from the U3A Central Resources, one of over 400 that are available. It’s a recent production that uses a somewhat incongruous modern staging but the singing is splendid.
The story so far . . .
The priestess Norma loves Pollione, leader of the occupying force suppressing her people, and has borne two children by him. But Pollione’s love has withered, and he now loves Norma’s fellow priestess Adalgisa. Meanwhile, the people urgently look to Norma to lead their rebellion. No-one has died (yet . . .)

No such thing as bad weather

(just inappropriate clothing)

Walking groups have continued their programmes through wind, rain and snow but open walking sandals have been left in the cupboard.
On a bright, dry day in February, the Walkers explored the hills and valleys north of Compton Valence, passing by the church and manor house at Winford Eagle. They then returned to Compton Valence to admire the snowdrops and enjoy a soup-and-cake lunch in the village hall.

However, the going was much wetter in March when they slipped, squelched and slithered from Langton Herring, down to the coast path and along to Fleet via the Moonfleet Manor. They returned by higher ground with views out to The Channel but even here there was plenty of mud and surface water. After about 6 ½ miles of walking, lunch in the Elm Tree at Langton Herring completed a splendid morning’s exercise.

Meanwhile, Strollers 2 took in the views from the ridge above Beaminster, both north towards darkest Wiltshire and south back over Beaminster itself. The weather was fine but the puddles were deep and best skirted. The route took in Beaminster Down and Beaminster Bottom, both of which, surprisingly, are at the top of the hill. Lunch in the Red Lion in Beaminster provided the perfect place to refresh and dry out.

The old Joanna

In March, Music Appreciation 2 listened to a CD by Romanian pianist Dinu Lipatti playing pieces by Chopin, Brahms, Ravel, Liszt and Enesco. Born in 1917, Lipatti died just 33 years later from Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Members were dazzled by Lipatti’s technique although few pieces had themes that could easily be whistled by the man in the street.

Coffee mornings

55 new members met for coffee at Bridport & District Golf Club on 16 February. It was a great opportunity for a chat and to meet each-other. They were introduced to members of the committee who encouraged them to contribute to groups, rather than just sitting back and taking what was on offer.

Meanwhile, some 30 members met in the WI Hall in Bridport during the morning of 19 January, followed by about 40 on 9 March. No special reason other than to socialise and consume calories and caffeine. The next two similar coffee mornings will be on 11 May and 13 July from 10.30 to 12.00. All members and their friends are welcome to simply turn up, put the shopping to one side and take the weight off their feet.