21 April 2010
Posted in THE NEWS - BRIDPORT NEWS & VIEWS
A campaign has been launched to restore The Spirit of Bridport on signs welcoming visitors to the town.
The image of the flaxen-haired woman sitting on a throne is a detail from a mural in Bridport Town Hall painted by Fra. Newbery, a founder of the renowned Glasgow School of Art. It was later adapted for the town road signs post-war in the 1950s or 60s by George Biles, whose murals adorn The Electric Palace foyer.So far, the Facebook campaign has 48 people calling for the town’s symbol to be returned to its rightful place.
“This town deserves better - she's beautiful and we want her back,” said former former Bridport News editor Margery Hookings, who launched the Facebook campaign last week.
“I realised Spirit is 85 years old this year, the same age as my mum. To me, the image is Bridport, but people only really see her now if they go into the town hall.
“She's beautiful and should still be the face that welcomes all visitors to this lively and quirky community. Why should we conform to blandness?”
Already, the campaign has brought back some interesting memories for people who remember the image on the East Road and West Road signs.
Megan Cox posted a picture of one of them from her A-level art project 17 years ago. And it was recognised by Sally Gale, who remembers her late mother finding a pile of £20 notes under the West Road sign.
Margery said: “I was hoping that if we get enough fans, we could appeal to the powers-that-be for her to be restored to her rightful place. However, I’m now told the signs no longer exist. But maybe this campaign could generate some modern-day interest in Newbery and Biles. We’ve got lots of artists in this town - maybe Spirit’s image could somehow be reinstated in some shape or form.”
Linda Bullock, town administrator and a huge Newbery fan, said: “Both signs were rotten and removed by the road authority, having been condemned.
“We thought one had been rescued as part of our heritage and had been given to the museum some years ago but this was not so. We made the necessary contacts to try to trace what had happened to them but sadly they must have been destroyed.
“There are strict rules and legislation on signage and we liaised extensively with Dorset County Council and Connect when the new signs for Bridport had to be put up in their place ( West Rd, East Road, Burton Rd ). There were various letters written by the public etc at the time.
“Bridport Town Council looked at the other things we would have liked considered - reference to our twice weekly markets, Gateway and Beacon Town but it was not possible - we had to fight very hard for the twin town link.
“Despite West Road being de-trunked and Burton Rd being a B-Road, there are still very firm restraints on Dorset County Council-controlled signage, as on the A35 at West Road controlled by Connect. It is very probable that nothing will change in the foreseeable future, as the signs are in reasonable condition. “
By Maddie Grigg
Join the facebook campaign