Article - Bridport Literary and Scientific Institute. 

As I write this column, I am on my way from London to Dorset at first light on a rather dreary slightly rainy day. But, weather conditions notwithstanding, I'm very much looking forward to the day ahead, because it is the day on which I will have the delightful task of participating in the official re-opening of the Bridport Literary and Scientific Institute. 

Regular readers of this column, if there are indeed any such, will perhaps recall that I have mentioned this Institute on a number of occasions over the years. But, as this is probably the last time I shall ever write about it, I hope that I will be forgiven for raising the subject once again. 

Almost a quarter of a century ago, when I first entered this fine old building, it was in a very sorry state - decrepit and unloved, leaking and partially empty. 

Even back then, however, something about the building itself and it's history spoke to me of opportunity. 

In the days when West Dorset was one of the great maritime and naval centres of Britain, when Lyme Regis played a significant role in our national defence and returned its own members to Parliament, Bridport was of course at the heart of the rope-making industry that was one of the key naval technologies enabling Britannia to rule the waves. 

And it was in this setting that the Literary and Scientific Institute played its part in what would now be described as "research, development and training". It was something like a latter-day equivalent of our modern Caterpult Centres, at the leading edge of leading edge technology. 

To see it now restored to its former architectural glory, and indeed aesthetically enhanced, and to know that it will once again play its part in fostering enterprise in modern Britain while at the same time reminding us of a splendid history that is all too easily forgotten, brings a glow to the heart. 

Many people have been involved in the epic endeavour to rescue this building - and we should be grateful to all of those who have selflessly devoted time and effort to a cause whose rewards certainly do not include the monetary enrichment of those who have served the public interest in this way. 

But one figure stands out above the rest - Charles Wild.

This remarkable man has been a steadfast political opponent of mine throughout the time that I have been contesting general elections in West Dorset. 

When I first met Charles Wild it became immediately apparent to me that he was a person of such integrity as to be not in the least influenced by this fact when we found ourselves dealing with issues of common concern. It was also clear that he was a person of huge perseverance, balanced judgement and with a remorseless attention to detail. All of these qualities were both needed and displayed during the achingly long period over which the defence and renovation of this splendid edifice has been so slowly but so persistently advanced with progressively increasing - and now, at last, final - success.