In the mid 1860s a villa called Bowood was built on a generous plot on the corner of Meyrick Rd and Bath Rd. It was demolished to make way for the Imperial Hotel that opened in 1887 at a cost of over £10,000.
The hotel closed in the mid 1960s and was replaced by the Roundhouse Hotel, the first major hotel built in Bournemouth for 30 years, that opened in 1969.
The design was a brave one and very cutting edge, a bold move for a generally conservative Bournemouth.
Known as the Roundhouse Hotel when it opened it has also been known as the Crest Hotel, the Crest Motor Hotel and the Forte Posthouse before becoming the Roundhouse Hotel once again.
When it opened the hotel boasted The Cave Bar on its lower floor, later Little Peters, Liquids and now the Wave restaurant and bar.
A [ VERY ] POTTED HISTORY OF BOURNEMOUTH……………
1810 – 1835
The founding of the town of Bournemouth is officially commemorated as the being 1810 the year that Captain Lewis Tregonwell and his wife Henrietta purchased a plot of land on the west bank of the Bourne stream upon which to build a large detached house that would serve as their new holiday home. The land was purchased from Sir George Tapps, Lord of the Manor of Christchurch, who became the largest landowner after what had been common land was effectively privatised in the Christchurch Inclosure Act 1802 and the subsequent Awards of 1805.
At that time the area was a remote one that lay mid way between Christchurch and Poole, themselves not the large towns they are today, on what was virtually uninhabited heathland. The house, known as the ”Mansion’, was completed in 1812 with the Tregonwells purchasing further land to increase the size of their estate upon which they built a few cottages for staff members and several more to let, mainly to family, friends and associates.
Although the Tregonwells eventually rented out their Mansion, their estate, referred to as ‘Bourne Tregonwell’ remained all but unknown to the outside world and was somewhere they spent much of their time.
Their original holiday home still exists as part of the Royal Exeter Hotel that stands opposite the Bournemouth International Centre [ B.I.C ] on Exeter Rd.
Lewis Tregonwell died in 1832 a few short years before the next important stage in the development of Bournemouth.
1835 – 1870
In 1835 Sir George Tapps died and his son Sir George Gervis inherited his father’s land, much of which lay to the east of the Bourne stream and set about creating a new development that he called his ‘Marine Village’, a seaside resort aimed at attracting paying guests. Early buildings included the Bath Hotel, later enlarged as the Royal Bath Hotel, the Westover Villas, a row of large detached houses or villas on generous plots that lined what is now Westover Rd, the Belle Vue Boarding House that fronted todays Pier Approach and some public baths that stood where, what was popularly known as the Imax building, was later built..
The new development wasn’t a resort as we would understand it now, offering beach holidays, but more of a health resort with much being made of the area’s mild micro climate and the health giving properties of the masses of pine trees that would also offer protection from the more extreme vagaries of the British weather.
Over the coming years more and more villas were built, spreading out from the banks of the Bourne stream which in turn attracted those that were needed to build the new properties and those that provided services to the well heeled residents of the fledgling town such as domestic staff, gardeners and food, grocery and household goods suppliers.
By 1856 there was a need to amalgamate the growing development and so Parliament passed the Bournemouth Improvement Act that set the town’s first boundary as being within a 1 mile radius of what is today Pier Approach. it also provided for a team of Commissioners, essentially the town’s first Council, charged with the power to raise funds via property rates to pay for things like highway improvements, drainage, sewers and street cleaning.
The town continued to grow within the 1 mile boundary and also led to development outside it including artisan / working class areas at Springbourne and Winton.
In 1870 the railway came to town but it was seen by many as a necessary evil and something to be kept as far away from the town centre as possible and so the station was located at the very edge of the 1 mile boundary on the opposite side of Holdenhurst Rd to the present Central Station. This arrival of the railway combined with cheaper rail fares and the creation by Parliament of the first Bank Holidays would lead to the next phase in the development of Bournemouth turning it from a sleepy seaside resort favoured by the wealthy upper classes many of whom were suffering poor health, into the large, bustling holiday destination that we know and love today. Bring it on!
1870 – PRESENT DAY
In 1871 the town’s population was just under six thousand but by 1891 it had increased almost ten fold to just under sixty thousand. Most of the new citizens were new comers to the area drawn by the opportunities the fast expanding new town could offer.
In 1876 Springbourne and Boscombe became part of Bournemouth when the town boundaries were extended for the first time with a further six following including Westbourne in 1884, Pokesdown, Southbourne, Winton and Moordown in 1901, Malmesbury Park, Charminster and Strouden Park in 1914, Kinson and Holdenhurst in 1931.
The final area incorporated into the town was Hengistbury Head in 1932 which was purchased from H. Gordon Selfridge founder of the Selfridges department store chain and took the town to it’s present size.
Today Bournemouth is home to more than 160,000 people and has grown at a phenomenal rate in the past two hundred years since the Tregonwells purchased that first eight and a half acres of land back in 1810.
The town is still a popular holiday destination and has had to work hard to compete against the rise of the foreign holiday and the unpredictability of the British weather by trying to attract visitors year round. Short weekend breaks, the conference trade, the annual airshow and a thriving night time economy all play their part in attracting day trippers and holiday makers, the life blood of the town’s tourism industry.
Sadly Bournemouth is also a victim of it’s own success and has almost reached bursting point with space for new homes very much at a premium. Many older, larger properties are being demolished to make way for more, smaller properties, many of them blocks of flats which are squeezed into every available space.
The last of the green belt clings desperately by it’s finger tips to the north, rightly or wrongly the town planners and Councillors come under attack for their stewardship of the town and any resemblance to a slow paced seaside resort of old has long gone.
The pressures of modern life, traffic levels, the drinking culture and even the current economic climate all take their toll on the quality of life in the town but it’s not all doom and gloom.
Bournemouth is still a great place with much to be proud of such as it’s wonderful sandy beaches, cliffs, pleasure gardens, parks, some of it’s buildings both old and new, oh, and it’s history of course.
RECOMMENDED FURTHER READING.
‘Bournemouth 1810 – 1910’ by Mate and Riddle [ the full text is available as a pdf file on the internet if you have a hunt around for it.]
‘The Story of Bournemouth’ by David S Young. Published in 1957 it occasionally turns up on E Bay and Amazon around the £10 mark.
‘A History of Bournemouth’ by Elizabeth Edwards. ISBN 0 85033 412 8. Turns up on E Bay and Amazon fairly regularly for under a tenner.
‘The Book of Bournemouth’ by David and Rita Popham ISBN 0 86023 219 0
All titles also available at local libraries.
Credit goes to Flickr (BOURNEMOUTH GRANT ) for this terrifying evil building. Original date: 2012-02-21 16:54:37
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