AN iconic building in the heart of Bridport has been given a makeover – and its new look will soon be unveiled to the public. 

The finishing touches are being made to the Literary and Scientific Institute (LSI) on East Street. 

Work on the Grade 2* listed building began last August and, before that, it had been empty since 1997 and was even placed on the national ‘at risk’ register.

The pavement outside the building reopened earlier this month and the road was reinstated last week, allowing traffic and parking nearby to resume. 

Remaining external work will be completed in the New Year whilst the Bridport Area Development Trust (BADT) fits out of public spaces ready for opening in February. 

BADT - a group of local volunteers – has been working for many years to restore the much-loved building and bring it back into community use, after a long period of neglect.

A spokesman for the group said: “The Trust is extremely grateful to the town and, in particular, to our neighbours for their patience and we regret the inconvenience they have borne while we bring this valuable building back to life for the benefit of the community.”

The new LSI will offer permanent, temporary and drop-in working facilities as well as event, training and meeting spaces.

The spokesman added: “We are delighted to welcome to the building as our first occupants, located on the first and mezzanine floors. An established Bridport business, as well as being the UK’s leading crowdfunding platform, Crowdfunder helps projects to raise the funds that they need by connecting them with their communities. Their expertise in making ideas happen makes them an ideal partner for the LSI, enhancing its aspiration to support economic growth in the town.”

The building will also house a new café geared to the working day, which will be run by the Trust, and a glass-covered courtyard which will be open to the public. A training and education room will house touchscreen and AV facilities and seats for up to 30 people in a lecture style environment. A programme of community activities and events is being developed to celebrate the building’s history and its importance to local heritage.

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