In his original ‘Grounds Frenzy’ book, Mike Floate wrote that “For some, seeing a photo of a ground is enough, but for others ... a visit must be made”. Not only was the very name “The Beehive” (which actually refers to the clubhouse not the ground) enough to tempt me to make a significant detour to take in the home of Bridport, but so too was a photograph of the wooden stand (see left) captured in Kerry Miller’s equally fine book, ‘The History of Non League Football Grounds’. It was in this context that my rather hurried visit in November 2003 was tinged with disappointment in finding the aforementioned stand replaced with the all-too common prefabricated metal clad variety. Had I arrived just weeks earlier I would have been just in time to see the original before it was torn down.
Bridport FC were formed in 1885 and moved the short distance from Crown Field in West Bay Road (where they had played since 1930 after a somewhat nomadic existence), to St. Mary’s Field in 1953. The wooden stand, with its pseudo-dogtooth fascia and creaking roof made the journey with them and straddled the half-way line on the far side of the pitch where its replacement now stands.
A grant in the region of £100,000 from the Football Foundation has enabled the club to update a ground that was in need of considerable remedial work. Not only was the aging stand rotten, but the eastern wall of the ground was also in an undesirable state, and required rebuilding.
The new stand has a capacity of about 180 (20 less than the original), with the seats in the club colours of red and black. A new covered area has also replaced was was quite a large covered shelter on the opposite side of the pitch, which dated from the 1960s. New perimeter fencing is also to be erected as part of the current project. Floodlights arrived at the Beehive in 1990 and were christened with a 4-3 defeat of Yeovil Town on 8 August that year.
Future plans, requiring application for further grants, include new changing rooms.
From the west (Honiton): Follow the bypass (A35) until you reach the roundabout. Take the first exit and at the traffic lights (200 yards) turn left. The ground is 50 yards on your right.
From the east and north (Dorchester/Yeovil): At the first roundabout follow the A35 Honiton road. At the second roundabout take the fourth exit and go 200 yards to the traffic lights. Turn left and the ground is 50 yards on your right.
From the south east (Weymouth): Follow the B3157 to the first roundabout. Take the third exit and go 200 yards to the traffic lights, Turn left and the ground is 50 yards on your right.
From the town centre: Drive down South Street (follow the signs to West Bay). At the traffic lights (Safeways on your left) it's a right turn. The ground is 50 yards on the right.