Bridport Harbour: The Rise and Decline of a Coastal Port
Bridport is an interesting case study of a port created in an unlikely place to meet local industrial demand. A protected harbour only from the 1740s, it was successful enough to be consolidated and expanded in the 1820s. It enjoyed a 30-year heyday before railway competition started to bite into its trade. Traditional exports of rope, nets, twine and sailcloth, especially for the Newfoundland fishery, then began to give way to gravel for construction. By the early twentieth century, coal and culm were beginning to be replaced as the main inward cargoes by timber, oilcake, and, later in a declining overall trade, cement and fertilizer. A sailing-ship port until the early 1920s, Bridport continued to function thereafter for another 65 years despite the hazards of a difficult entrance. Having dwindled further after the Second World War, commercial traffic came to an end in the 1980s, at much the same time, and for many of the same reasons, as it did at a number of other West Country ports.