SOUTHERN ENGLAND Bournemouth

SOUTHERN ENGLAND Bournemouth

SOUTHERN ENGLAND Bournemouth

Tourist Information, Westover Road, Bournemouth. 0202 291715.

(posted Nov 2011): Bournemouth (0202 293357).

As with so many places, the railway arriving in 1870 brought to Bournemouth a rate of growth undreamed of by the men who built the town up from what had been nothing more than a desolate, barren strip of coast when Captain Lewis Tregonwell built the first house there in 1810. The resort grew quickly. By the 1840's Bournemouth proprieters were quite distressed that the influential Dr Granville had totally ignored Bournemouth

when writing his book Spas of England and Principal Sea Bathing Places. Before the next edition appeared the Doctor had been invited to see for himself what Bournemouth had to offer. The public relations exercise could not have come at a more opportune time for both Bournemouth, and for the Doctor. He had become disenchanted by Torquay where 'the frequent tolling of the funeral bell' was the only thing that disturbed the quiet. He was searching for a new spot along the south coast to turn into England's Montpelier. He found it: 'I look upon Bournemouth and its yet unformed colony as a perfect discovery among the sea-nooks one longs to have for a real invalid.' Sea bathing was in vogue and the warm seas of the bay were ideal for that. Taking the cure, resting and gossiping, reading, listening to music and being cared for were what the 'idle rich' were looking for. Bournemouth set out to give them all they needed and more. It is becoming 'a very Metropolis for Bath Chairs', one visitor soon complained. The resort was in the throes of growth. Hotels were being built along the tops of the cliffs and in the deep wooded chines. The barber, who until 1850 had travelled across from Christchurch twice a week, now found it was worthwhile to set up shop in the town. Dr Granville warned the developers 'not to commit the blunders perpetrated on other coasts by admitting strangers and brick and mortar contractors to build whole streets of lodging houses and interminable terraces in straight lines facing the sea'. His advice was heeded; they built roads in lines at right angles to the sea so that each had a view towards the coast and the sea.

In 1876 the first Winter Gardens were opened, the hydraulic railway was built to run up and down the cliff-face, the hotels grew bigger and the pier came in 1861.

From the cliff-top dunes and a small stream flowing into the sea has grown a holiday town with its own symphony orchestra, hundreds of acres of parks and a multi-million pound international centre. For children there is a tropical bird house and also boating, putting greens and paddling pools in the gardens to keep them amused.

In summer the beach echoes with that familiar cry, 'Mum can I go on the . . .' They can, as there is much to keep them happily occupied. Swimming is safe with life guards on duty, and the protective groynes also act as separation barriers between families. The huts by the sea wall can be hired by the week, fortnight or season and they are well worth having. The customary inviting diversions for children and parents are there; Kiddy Castle, crazy golf, paddling pools and electric trains. One thing they have introduced is a supervised Beach Club for 5-16 year olds with organised games and competitions - they had a sand castle contest the day I looked in. Volley ball, cricket, rounders and quoits are all free.

Further inland, King's Park is usually home for a summer fair-ground, but most families come for the excellent beach. Within a mile or so is Tucktonia, 'the Best of Britain in Miniature' with go-karts and a pitch-and-putt golf course which I opened with Peter Alliss and David Thomas more years ago than I care to remember.

Frequent trains from London Waterloo bring visitors to Bournemouth via Southampton, many going on to Weymouth. There are through trains to the Midlands and the North.


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These rights and privileges were resented by some of 'The Town' who rebelled against 'The Gown' and many of those rights were eventually abandoned.

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