The River Brit, a tidal river, flows into the sea through the sluice gates and harbour basin at West Bay. A harbour was first recorded at West Bay in the 13th century, then known as Bridport Harbour.
During the Napoleonic Wars (1799 - 1815) many ships were built here, while in 1853 one of 1000 tons was launched but wooden ship building ceased some 25 years later.
Bridport Harbour changed its name to West Bay when a train line was built in the late 1800's and the fishing hamlet with its maritime buildings expanded as houses were built. The harbour was used for import/export trade until the 1960's. Fishing as an industry, continues today.
Throughout the summer, visitors can take day trips to catch mackerel. Local seafood is widely available in the shops and many food outlets around West Bay.
Construction work undertaken at the beginning of this century has seen the development of a new slipway and outer harbour and a replacement of the old west pier with a realigned new Jurassic Pier. Bridport's longstanding links with its twin town, St. Vaast La Hougue (a Normandy fishing port with marina), are marked with a commemorative stone naming the area of the new slipway as the Place St Vaast La Hougue.
West Bay is very popular with divers and the new slipway provides launching for dive boats and for small pleasure craft. A new Gig club has been formed, taking advantage of the enhanced facilities.
The Jurassic Coast
Designated part of the Jurassic Coast, www.jurassiccoast.com (England's first natural World Heritage Site) where some of the strata of geological importance can be seen in the magnificent sandstone sea cliffs, some 180 million years old, the striking, often sunlit, cliffs of West Bay are a memorable image and provide inspiration for photographers, artists and poets. The Bridport and West Dorset Golf Club have a cliff top course with striking sea views, while television and film companies have used the cliffs as a backdrop in a number of productions. The South West Coastal Path is routed along both West and East Cliffs at West Bay.
A large caravan and camp site with a variety of hotels and guesthouses provide welcome accommodation for visitors to the area (details can be found on this site), while a number of small service businesses, shops, cafes and kiosks cater for the needs of the community, visitors, fishermen, anglers and divers alike.
The Salt House
The Salt House, one of West Bay's maritime historic buildings, is leased by Bridport Town Council and provides a venue for charitable events and a meeting place for community organisations.
Contact number 01308-456722.