St Michael’s Legacy
The Haywards at St Michael’s
One thing that has not changed on the St Michael’s Estate in the last 46 years is the policy of providing affordable rents for the many fledgling small businesses – ‘start ups’ as they would be known today.
Norman Hayward Senior was a Londoner but moved to the Boscombe area when still a lad. He had run his own small business that he founded just before the war in Bournemouth so he knew first hand the problems small businesses faced well before arriving in Bridport with his two sons, Clive and Norman Junior. What they saw on arrival was very different than the estate we see today. Many buildings were partially derelict – net and rope making production had ceased some years before and transferred to other parts of the town. So the Haywards set about transforming the estate into a number of small and not so small units – a significant task that kept the family occupied for several years, undertaking much of the work themselves.
For Norman Senior this all began at a time when most people are considering retirement; he was 60 when the purchase of the 6 acres of land and buildings was completed.
His two sons continue those traditions today. Norman and Clive Hayward are still meeting the needs of a variety of tenants and over the years many hundreds of businesses have benefitted from this approach.
Some of course have gone on to outgrow St Michael’s – Par Acoustics, Top Gear, Clipper Teas, Lilliput Textiles, Coastal Nets. And there will be more in the future – businesses that continue to sow their seeds at St Michael’s and have been nurtured over the years.
But not all businesses here seek to grow and expand – many are just happy to survive and continue as they are; family businesses in particular. They are just as important to St Michael’s and just as welcome.
St Michael’s Foundry showing a much smaller working factory estate circa 1820 left and the proposed
‘new’ St Michael’s estate circa 2020 right. This masterplan was approved by West Dorset district Councillors in July 2017