A hive for fine art, antique furniture and vintage treasures, Bridport in Dorset offers a perfect eclectic shopping experience...

There are very few towns like Bridport left.  Relaxed, friendly and quirky – some might say slightly shabby, but that’s also part of its warm and welcoming charm! It’s a town with great character, which is often stripped from so many places nowadays, what with the mass proliferation of certain not-to-be-named coffee shops! That’s not to say they haven’t got these kinds of places, but they are outnumbered here by the independently owned shops – which is just what we here at VE like to see!

There’s also nowhere quite like St Michael’s Trading Estate, which is in the South-West corner of the town, which is celebrating it’s 50th Anniversary this year. There’s so much history here, which stretches back more than 200 years when it played a key part in the pioneering West Dorset net and rope making industry, even providing equipment for Nelson’s fleet!

The Hayward family became owners of St Michael’s Industrial Estate in 1968 and have nurtured and managed it through many difficult and traumatic times. Without the Haywards, it is fair to say that the Estate wouldn’t exist today, St Michael’s would have long ago become yet another stereotypical housing estate! Today however, it’s home to a diverse mix of independent businesses, which have helped the estate to survive and grow. It’s the plethora of artists, signwriters and artisans, antiques, collectables, retro and vintage shops that give it a unique flavour and bring visitors flocking from far and wide.

Situated near to the centre of town, behind West and South Street, is where you’ll find the Bridport Art & Vintage Quarter – a place where you could lose yourself and drift back in time. The Alleyways Antiques Centre occupies a big plot, housing over 50 traders under one roof, therefore there’s constantly changing stock and the centre is continually evolving.

Starting in April, the Art & Vintage Quarter will once again entertain the fabulous Bridport Vintage Market, held on the last Sunday of every month - starting on the 1st April and running right through to 28th October. This Market brings with it a completely different kind of buzz, almost like an old fashioned street market vibe, with a wide array of antique, retro and vintage dealers, traders and market stalls.

Running alongside the long established Market, is a new venture: Ropewalk Rummage, which is the place to buy, sell or show your vintage car or motorcycle. There will be stalls selling autojumble and automobilia, and spaces to show off your vehicle should you fancy taking it out for a jolly on a Sunday morning!

You can also enjoy catch up with friends, and enjoy a coffee, lunch or tea at The Red Brick Café, which spills out into the Market. On a warm lazy summer’s day you can just sit back and watch the world go by...

Finally, make sure you don’t miss the new Bridport Antiques Centre situated on West Street, which opened last year and has quickly gained a reputation for selling top-notch stock, offering a great contrast to the Art & Vintage Quarter. Walking around the lovely old Court building you’re surrounded by the most elegant, authentic antiques and glittering collections of antique glass, accompanied by beautiful works of art – all beautifully displayed in cabinets or room settings. For a sneak preview see their advertisement overleaf. With parking right outside, you might like to stop off there first, as the owners, Richard and Sam Payne-Withers, know the area well, and will happily point you in the direction of the other traders and advise you on how best to explore the town.

Find out about the Ropewalk Rummage here

Visit the Art and Vintage Quarter Facebook Page