New Building has New Tenants
From the ravages of the 2018 fire, the Edwards Building has a new look and a new lease of life:
More than five years after the major fire that ravaged part of the Edwards Tower Building, the reinstated building is now home to five new businesses with two more to come. And in typical St Michael’s style, the building now houses an eclectic mix of fascinating and varied businesses:
Cheshire & Wain specialises in luxury products for pampered special cats. The first Cheshire & Wain designer cat collar was sold 10 years ago. Owner Sonja says the last decade has flown by like a pigeon being chased by a fast-moving feline. Cheshire & Wain have developed a quality range of cat products, collars, ID Tags, Catnip Toys, cat beds and rugs, all types of bowls and now Louis Wain prints. Plus, a variety of specialised gifts for all cat lovers themselves.
Sonja took the decision to relocate her business from the east end of London to Bridport just over a year ago and is now safely settled at St Michael’s.
Suzanna Hubbard specialises in illustrating books for the young in ink and mixed and digital media. She studied at The City & Guilds of London Art School and her clients now include: Radio Times, Homes & Gardens, Tatler, Food Illustrated, Gardeners World, Penguin, Orion Publishing, Pavilion Books, BBC Radio 4 & Kingfisher. Soon after graduation Suzanna published her first book The Lady Who Lived in a Car which was nominated for an Early Years Book Trust Award.
The Seaweed People The Seaweed People is a small business established to develop seaweed-based skincare and healthy snacks. Co- founded by Léna Feifrlikova and Freddie Hill, who are The Seaweed People, and who aim to shine a light on the healthy properties of seaweed, and how people can benefit from including it in their diet and skincare routine. The seaweed is wild harvested from the Dorset coastline, ensuring sustainable principles are strictly followed to allow for regrowth of harvested material. We source the seaweed from clean waters, so the quality remains high throughout the season.
Paul Blow has worked as graphic designer and editorial illustrator for more than 20 years with clients including The New York Times, Penguin, The Economist, Greenpeace and Pentagram. He also makes available some of his original works through the sale of limited edition signed prints.
His ability to illustrate an article or an editorial viewpoint with vivid and imaginative graphics has been proved time and again with an impressive range of clients.
One of Cheshire & Wain’s pampered cats
What does the future of the St Michael’s Estate look like?
Well finally as of July 2023 we can at last be confident it will look very much like the aerial impression here; our scheme for the regeneration and development of St Michael’s has just been approved for the third time by the Western area planning committee of Dorset Council.
The long list of plusses for which we have been banging the drum for 15 years has finally been accepted unanimously by councillors:
- Regeneration which ensures long term social, economic, environmental survival
- Conserving the historic rope and net making buildings that are the heart of the estate
- Creation of a riverside walk linking the town through to West Bay
- New public realm areas benefitting the community through shared spaces and walkways
- Provision of much needed open market and affordable housing in a riverside setting
- Delivery of that rare commodity: a mixed-use development on a brownfield site
- Brand new modern commercial trading units in a traditional setting
All this won’t happen overnight; we still have several planning hoops to jump through and work is not likely to start for two years but there is now clear light at the end of what has been a long, dark tunnel.
Architect’s impression courtesy of Ferguson Mann Associates
St Michael’s Blue Plaques Bring Estate History Alive
Three commemorative blue plaques have been unveiled here at St Michael’s. It would of course be unusual to have one blue plaque on a trading estate let alone 3 but why have historic plaques on a trading estate at all?
St Michael’s has a proud track record of providing affordable commercial trading space to small businesses for 53 years. But we have always been conscious that the estate had an industrial life for hundreds of years before as a net and rope making factory employing hundreds of local people. We are also conscious of being the largest part of Bridport’s South West Quadrant conservation zone. The first plaque unveiled was to William Saunders Edwards and it was unveiled by his great granddaughter Amanda Streatfeild who still lives in the town. William broke the mould by taking nets from St Michael’s into the world of sport; lawn tennis- the All England Club and then to the Football Association for the first goal nets, then cricket nets, and of course almost every village hall in the country has a badminton net or two.
The second plaque to William Gale and his family was unveiled by His Worship the Mayor Councillor Ian Bark who said that just looking around St Michael’s it was obvious that this was once a thriving hub of industrial activity. ’These buildings still stand as a mark of respect to the entrepreneurs and workers who created and worked in them.” In unveiling the third plaque to commemorate the creation of Bridport Industries, Karen Hunt Chair of the Bridport Museum trustees, agreed with Councillor Bark that Bridport’s heritage is ‘not just about these buildings we see around but about the people who shaped them, worked in them and lived in the surrounding streets.’ We are proud to commemorate their contribution to St Michael’s and Bridport’s industrial past.