Steptoes5 East Street
DT6 3 JU
01308 421242
Open: 9 to 5, Mon-Sat

Riff Tilbury sells shoes and he does it well, but don’t imagine he’s just a man who sells shoes. He’s also a Nashville country singer, a man of strong opinions of the Radical persuasion and an ultra-marathon cyclist who once crossed the USA in 22 days.

Brought up in Hayes, Middlesex, Riff left school early and went into the print. He came to Dorset in 1969, worked for a Dorchester printer and in 1980 started selling shoes from a market stall. His Bridport stall was outside Smiths and his breakthrough came with line of ladies floral slippers selling for £1.99.

Assisted by Julie Thorne, his partner (now wife) and her brother, Jason, the business flourished and shops in Dorchester and Bridport were opened, as well as an online operation. The Steptoes name was borrowed from the TV series, a fact that amused Ray Galton, of the legendary Galton & Simpson scriptwriting duo, when he came in looking for a pair of shoes. These days, the Bridport shop is the hub and Crocs sell better than floral slippers. Personal service in a friendly atmosphere is guaranteed.

By |June 1st, 2015|Shops|0 Comments

Malabar Trading

Malabar Trading
33 South Street
01308 425734
Open: Mon-Sat, 10-5

It is the beauty of the interior of Malabar Trading that first appeals to the senses; the door leads from the bustle of South Street to a haven of colour and texture, a cornucopia of cotton, silk, wool, ceramics and much else from around the world. It is the eye and expeditionary zeal of Robyn Huxter, the shop’s owner, that brings us such bounty. Twice a year, she travels to India on buying missions, seeking traditional textiles and goods whose methods of manufacture and design are classic, timeless and diminishing. She also goes to Turkey twice a year as well as to a vast trade fair in Paris to source ceramics from Japan, cookware from the continent. “I know what’s good; I can see it,” she says.

Huxter, who was born in South Africa, came to Bridport 25 years ago and established her enterprise at the turn of the Millennium, claims that she is “not a good businesswoman” and that she never buys purely with the aim of financial gain. “Over the years, I have sold all sorts of treasures without knowing their true value,” she says. But then, of course, beauty is priceless.

By |November 18th, 2014|Shops|0 Comments

Davy’s Locker

Davy's2Davy’s Locker
Unit 28A
Dreadnought Trading Estate
01308 456131
Open: Mon-Sat, 5am to noon

Most of Davy’s Locker’s business is supplying restaurants, with two full-grown vans and a tiddler criss-crossing Dorset with the catch. “When plaice are about, we sell two or three hundred kilos a week,” says Paul Wickham, one of the three partners. But visitors to their industrial-style premises looking for something for supper are welcome and bound to be impressed. Want a couple of good-sized lobsters for tomorrow? Hang on. Paul phones a vessel two miles out at sea. “Lobster. Got any? Right, we’ll have ’em.”

Or try their celebrated fish-pie mix. Keith Laver, the acknowledged ace with the filleting knife, will soon sort some out. Back in 2009, the chef at the Bull Hotel asked Davy’s Locker for a halibut to cook as part of a seafood festival. I want a big one, he ordered. And he got one: 140 kilos and 10-foot long. It took five grown men to lift it onto the slab and all day for the chefs to chop it into 600 portions.

By |October 26th, 2014|Shops|1 Comment

Washingpool Farm Shop

Washingpool Farm Shop
North Allington, Bridport DT6 5HP
01308 459549
Farm Shop Open Mon-Sat 8.30 – 5.30
Farmer’s Kitchen Open Mon-Sat 8.30 – 4.30

Back in the 1970s, John Eveleigh, a farmer in Crewkerne who suffered from asthma, was advised by his doctor to move closer to the sea. He bought Washingpool Farm, an 80-acre property with a view over Bridport and West Bay to the sea. The rolling terrain, part of the belt of sand, clay and loam that runs from Yeovil to Bridport, lends itself to mixed farming and the Eveleigh family began to grow vegetables to sell in town and to raise livestock.

From those simple beginnings, a flourishing enterprise has grown, employing 25 people and sustaining 14 family members, including the latest arrival, Diggory Brock, born 13 October 2014. Washingpool now offers the best farm shop in the region, an excellent café (order the spinach soufflé if it’s on), holiday cottages and a small caravan site, a nature trail, three coarse-fishing lakes and a children’s play area. The heart of the operation remains a working farm, with a herd of ‘Red Ruby’ North Devon cattle, pigs and chickens providing beef, pork and eggs for the shop as well as muck to enrich the soil for the vegetable crops.

By |October 15th, 2014|Food & Drink, Shops, Where to Stay|0 Comments

Leakers Bakery

Leakers1Leakers Bakery
29 East Street
Bridport DT6 3JX
01308 423296
Open: Mon-Fri 7-5; Sat 6-3


Jo Leaker at work on her Dorset Apple Cake

In 1914, George Leaker came from Devon and bought the bakery that had been giving Bridport its daily bread since the early 19th century. His grand-daughter, Jo, who was born in an upstairs room, still works on the premises as the Apple Queen. She makes and bakes the Dorset Apple Cake. The business was bought in 2002 by Caroline Parkins, a notable cook with a commitment to traditional baking, using the massive old brick-floored ovens to produce bread, cakes and savouries that are fine and honest. In Leakers, it’s not fanciness or decoration that counts but taste. It’s so reliably good that Leakers supplies just about every good restaurant in town, as well as Mark Hix’s Oyster and Fish House in Lyme Regis and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s River-Cottage empire in Axminster.

By |October 7th, 2014|Shops|0 Comments