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Bournemouth ( ) is a large coastal resort town in the Borough of Bournemouthmarker, Englandmarker. The town has a population of 163,444 according to the 2001 Census, making it the largest settlement in Dorsetmarker. It is also the largest settlement between Southamptonmarker and Plymouthmarker. With Poolemarker and Christchurchmarker it forms the South East Dorset conurbationmarker, which has a total population of approximately 400,000.

Founded in 1810 by Lewis Tregonwell, Bournemouth's growth accelerated with the arrival of the railway, becoming a recognised town in 1870. Originally part of Hampshire, it joined Dorset with the reorganisation of local government in 1974. Since 1997 the town has been administered by a unitary authority, meaning that it has autonomy from Dorset County Councilmarker.

Bournemouth's location on the south coast of England has made it a popular destination for tourists. The town is a regional centre of business, home of the Bournemouth International Centremarker and financial companies that include: Liverpool Victoria and Standard Life Healthcare.

In a 2007 survey by First Direct Bank, Bournemouth was found to be the happiest place in Britain with 82% of people questioned saying they were happy with their life,.


Bournemouth is located southwest of London at . A roundabout at the end of the Wessex Way road called "County Gates" (commonly known as Frizzell roundabout after the insurance brokers based there, now part of Liverpool Victoria Friendly Society) marks the historic border between Hampshire and Dorset, and also the border between Bournemouth and Poole.

The urban geography of Bournemouth is complex: the town adjoins Poole in the west and Christchurch in the east to form the South East Dorset conurbationmarker. The combined population is 383,713, and it is a retail and commercial centre. To the north west of Bournemouth is the small town of Wimbornemarker and to the north east is the settlement of Ferndownmarker. Bournemouth International Airportmarker lies to the north east, towards Hurnmarker. The town is intersected by the A338 dual carriageway, known as the "Wessex Way".

Although Bournemouth is on the coast, the centre of the town lies inland - the commercial and civil heart of the town being The Square. From the Square the Upper and Lower Pleasure Gardens descend to the seafront and the pier. Areas within Bournemouth include Bear Crossmarker, Boscombemarker, Kinsonmarker, Pokesdownmarker and Westbournemarker. Traditionally a large retirement town, Bournemouth (mostly the Northbourne, Southbourne and Tuckton areas of Bournemouth together with the Wallisdown, and Talbot Villagemarker areas of Poole) has seen massive growth in recent years, especially through the growth of students attending Bournemouth Universitymarker and the large number of language schools teaching English as a foreign language.
Bournemouth is located directly to the east of the Jurassic Coastmarker, a section of beautiful and largely unspoilt coastline recently designated a World Heritage Site. Apart from the beauty of much of the coastline, the Jurassic Coast provides a complete geological record of the Jurassic period and a rich fossil record. Bournemouth sea front overlooks Poole Baymarker and the Isle of Wightmarker. Bournemouth also has of sandy beaches that run from Hengistbury Headmarker in the east to Sandbanksmarker, in Poole, in the west.

Because of the coastal processes that operate in Poole Bay, the area is often used for surfing. An artificial reef (Europe's first) was expected to be installed at Boscombemarker, in Bournemouth, by October 2008, using large sand-filled geotextile bags. However, this deadline was not met, and the construction was actually finished at the end of October 2009. The reef was constructed as part of the larger Boscombe Spa Village development. Bournemouth also has several chines (e.g. Alum Chine) that lead down to the beaches and form a very attractive feature of the area. The beaches are subdivided by groynes.


Due to its location on the south coast, Bournemouth has a temperate climate with moderate variation in annual and daily temperatures: from 1971 to 2000 the annual mean temperature was . The warmest months are July and August, which have an average temperature range of , while the coolest months are January and February, which have an average temperature range of . Average rainfall in Bournemouth is 592.6 millimetres (23.33 in), well below the national average of 1,126 millimetres.


Historically Bournemouth was part of Hampshire, with Poole just to the west of the border. At the time of the 1974 local government re-organisation, it was considered desirable that the whole of the Poole/Bournemouth urban areamarker should be part of the same county. Bournemouth therefore became part of the non-metropolitan county of Dorset on 1 April 1974. On 1 April 1997, Bournemouthmarker became a unitary authority, independent from Dorset County Council. For the purposes of the Lieutenancy it remains part of the ceremonial county of Dorset.

For local elections the district is divided into 18 wards, and the Bournemouth Borough Councilmarker is elected every four years. The Council elects the Mayor and Deputy Mayor annually. For 2009-2010, the Mayor of Bournemouth is Mrs. Beryl Baxter.


The Dorsetmarker and Hampshire region surrounding Bournemouth has been the site of human settlement for thousands of years. However, in 1800 the Bournemouth area was largely a remote and barren heathland. No-one lived at the mouth of the Bourne River and the only regular visitors were a few fishermen, turf cutters and gangs of smugglers until the 16th century. During the Tudor period the area was used as a hunting estate, 'Stourfield Chase', but by the late 18th century only a few small parts of it were maintained, including several fields around the Bourne Stream and a cottage known as Decoy Pond House, which stood near where The Square is today.

With the exception of the estate, until 1802 most of the Bournemouth area was common land. The Christchurch Inclosures Act 1802 and the Inclosure Commissioners' Award of 1805 transferred hundreds of acres into private ownership for the first time. In 1809, the Tapps Arms public house appeared on the heath. A few years later, in 1812, the first residents, retired army officer Lewis Tregonwell and his wife, moved into their new home built on land he had purchased from Sir George Ivison Tapps. Tregonwell began developing his land for holiday letting by building a series of sea villas. In association with Tapps, he planted hundreds of Pine trees, providing a sheltered walk to the beach (later to become known as the 'Invalids walk'). The town would ultimately grow up around its scattered pines. In 1832 when Tregonwell died, Bournemouth had grown into small community with a scattering of houses, villas and cottages.
In 1835, after the death of Sir George Ivison Tapps, his son Sir George William Tapps-Gervis inherited his father's estate. Bournemouth started to grow at a faster rate as George William started developing the seaside village into a resort similar to those that had already grown up along the south coast such as Weymouthmarker and Brightonmarker. In 1841, the town was visited by the physician and writer Augustus Granville. Granville was the author of The Spas of England, which described health resorts around the country. As a result of his visit, Dr Granville included a chapter on Bournemouth in the second edition of his book. The publication of the book, as well as the growth of visitors to the seaside seeking the medicinal use of the seawater and the fresh air of the pines, helped the town to grow and establish itself as an early tourist destination.
The Bournemouth Pleasure Gardens, laid out in the 1840s and 1860s.
The Victorian Folly was added later.
The Bournemouth War Memorial, built in 1921, located in the Bourne gardens.
In the 1840s the fields south of the road crossing (later Bournemouth Square) were drained and laid out with shrubberies and walks. Many of these paths including the 'Invalids walk' remain in the town today; forming part of the Pleasure Gardens which extend for several miles along the Bourne stream. The Pleasure Gardens were originally a series of garden walks created in the fields of the owners of the Branksome Estate in the 1860s. In the early 1870s all the fields were leased to the Bournemouth Commissioners by the freeholders. Parliament approved the Bournemouth Improvement Act in 1856. Under the Act, a board of 13 Commissioners was established to build and organise the expanding infrastructure of the town, such as paving, sewers, drainage, street lighting and street cleaning.

During the late 19th century the town continued to develop. The Winter Gardens were finished in 1875 and the cast iron Bournemouth pier was finished in 1880. The arrival of the railways allowed a massive growth of seaside and summer visits to the town, especially by visitors from the Midlandsmarker and London. In 1880 the town had a population of 17,000 people but by 1900, when railway connections were at their most developed to Bournemouth, the town's population had risen to 60,000. It was also during this period that the town became a favourite location for visiting artists and writers. The town was improved greatly during this period through the efforts of Sir Merton Russell-Cotes, the town's Mayor and a local philanthropist. He helped establish the town's first library and museum. The Russell-Cotes Art Gallery & Museummarker was housed in his mansion and after his death it was given to the town.

As Bournemouth's growth increased in the early 20th century, the town centre spawned theatres, cafés, two art deco cinemas and more hotels. Other new buildings included the War Memorial in 1921 and the Bournemouth Pavilion, the towns concert hall and grand theatre finished in 1925. The town escaped great damage during the Second World War but saw a period of decline as a seaside resort in the post war era.

In 1985, Bournemouth became the first town in the United Kingdommarker to introduce and use CCTV cameras for public street-based surveillance.

Literature references

Bournemouth appears as Sandbourne in Thomas Hardy's novels. Tess lived in Sandbourne with Alec d'Urberville, and the town also features in The Well-Beloved and Jude the Obscure. It is also mentioned in So Long, and Thanks for all the Fish, the fourth book of the Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy trilogy. In James Herbert's horror novel The Fog, the entire population of Bournemouth runs into the sea and drowns in a mass suicide. In Andy McDermott's thriller The Secret of Excalibur, a car chase through the town centre and beach front leads to the destruction of the IMAX Cinema. It is also mentioned in Roald Dahl's The Witches as the setting for the Hotel Magnificent.

J.R.R. Tolkien, the writer, spent 30 years taking holidays in Bournemouth, staying in the same room at the Hotel Miramar, with a second room to write in. He eventually retired to the area in the 1960s with his wife Edith. Tolkien died in September 1973 at his home in Bournemouth and was buried in Oxfordshire.

Mary Shelley, the writer and novelist is buried in St. Peter's Church, her son Sir Percy having settled at Boscombemarker Manor. Also buried at St Peter's is the heart of Mary's husband, Percy Bysshe Shelley, brought back from Italy, and her parents William Godwin and Mary Wollstonecraft, their remains having been moved there from St Pancras Old Churchmarker.

The town was especially rich in literary associations during the late nineteenth century and earlier years of the twentieth century. Oscar Wilde and Paul Verlaine both taught at Bournemouth preparatory school. Robert Louis Stevenson wrote The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and most of his novel Kidnapped from his house "Skerryvore" on the west cliff. Count Vladimir Chertkov established a colony of Russian exiles in Iford Waterworks at Southbourne, and under the 'Free Age Press' imprint, published the first edition of several works by Tolstoy, however the author himself never visited the town.

Culture and recreation

Bournemouth Pier including the Pier Theatre
Bournemouth is a tourist and regional centre for leisure, entertainment, culture and recreation. The award winning Central Gardens are a separate major public park, leading for several miles down the valley of the River Bourne through the centre of the town to the sea (reaching the sea at Bournemouth Pier) and include the Pleasure Gardens and the area surrounding the Pavilion and the now closed IMAX Cinema. It has a thriving youth culture, including a high university population and many language school students. With the advent of the Boscombe Overstrand, the seeds of a dynamic new business culture revolving around new media and surfing have begun to emerge. Bournemouth also has a well established gay scene comprising of a cluster of bars, restaurants, The Bondi (the South's only exclusively GLBT Hotel) and nightclubs all centred around the Triangle in the centre of the town. Bournemouth is known for its popularity with pensioners and it has many residential care homes.

The Bournemouth International Centre marker, is a popular venue for the conferences of the major political parties. The centre hosted the Labour Party conference in 2003 and 2007, the Conservative Party conference in 2006, and the Liberal Democrat conference in 2008 and 2009 The BIC also hosts theatrical productions and musical concerts.

The Russell-Cotes Museummarker is located just to the east of the Central Gardens near the Pavilion Theatremarker and next to the Royal Bath Hotel. The museum includes many 19th century paintings and the family collections acquired when travelling especially in Japanmarker and Russiamarker. It was Russell Cotes who successfully campaigned to have a promenade built; it runs continuously along the Bournemouth and Poole shoreline.

The cover sleeve for "All Around the World" by Oasis was shot at Bournemouth, it features 4 of the bandmates standing on the beach and looking up towards to the sky, while the words "All Around The World" are written in the sand.


Bournemouth contains places of worships for many denominations. The town has several examples of Victorian church architecture. These include St Stephen's church, which was built for services under the influence of the Oxford Movement and was finished in 1898. Also included is the Richmond Hill St Andrew's Church, part of the United Reformed Church. The Church was built in 1865 and enlarged in 1891.

The town is also the home of the Bournemouth Reform Synagoguemarker, formerly known as Bournemouth New Synagogue. It is a Reform Jewish synagogue with over 700 members. There is also the architecturally notable Bournemouth Hebrew Congregationmarker.

Image:Bournemouth Richmond Hill church.jpg|St Andrew's Richmond Hill church, built in 1865.Image:Bournemouth St Stephen's church.jpg|Bournemouth St Stephen's church, built in 1898.Image:Bournemouth Synagogue.jpg|The Bournemouth Hebrew Congregationmarker.


The town has a professional football club, AFC Bournemouth, who play in League Two, and Bournemouth F.C. who play in the Wessex League Premier Division. AFC Bournemouth play at the Fitness First Stadiummarker (historically known as Dean Court) near Boscombemarker in Kings' Park, east of the town centre. The Westover and Bournemouth Rowing Club is the town's coastal rowing club situated on the West Beach next to the Oceanarium. The oldest sporting club in Bournemouth, it competes in regattas organised by the Hants and Dorset Amateur Rowing Association that take place on the South Coast of England between May and September.Bournemouth Rugby Club, who compete in the South West Division One, has its home at the Bournemouth Sports Club located next to Bournemouth Airportmarker. The Bournemouth Cricket Club, also situated next to the airport is one of Dorset's largest cricket clubs. Their 1st team play in the Southern Premier League.

Recently, the Bournemouth International Centre has become a venue for a round of the Premier League Darts Championship organised by the Professional Darts Corporation. It was rated as one of the favourites to become the new host for the PDC World Championships as the last site, Circus Tavern, could not hold the growing numbers of fans.

Bournemouth also has a thriving watersports community with its beaches having great conditions for Windsurfing and Kitesurfing. On a windy day you can see many kitesurfers and windsurfers out enjoying the waves all the way along the beach from Hengistbury head to Sandbanks, and there are quite a few local schools for the beginner to learn either sport. There is a local Kiteboarding club, Bournemouth Boarding, which is growing in popularity and is recognised by the BKSA. There is a yearly Festival, Animal Windfest, held at the end of the beach on Sandbanksmarker in nearby Poolemarker which includes Kitesurfing and Windsurfing competitions along with zapcat racing and other spectacles.


The main shopping streets in the centre of town are just behind the seafront on either side of the River Bourne; footpaths lead down to the sea from The Square through the lower section of Bournemouth Central Gardens.

The shopping streets are mostly pedestrianised and lined with a wide range of boutiques, stores, jewellers and accessory shops. There are stores (Beales, Dingles, Debenhams, Marks and Spencer, BHS), modern shopping malls, Victorian arcades (including the Victorian Arcade between Westover Road and Old Christchurch Road), and a large selection of bars, clubs and cafés. About a mile to the west of the town centre, in the district of Westbournemarker, there is a selection of designer clothes and interior design shops. About a mile to the east, in the district of Boscombemarker, there is another major shopping area including many antiques shops and a street market. North of the centre there is an out-of-town shopping complex called Castlepoint Shopping Centremarker with supermarkets, DIY stores and larger versions of high street shops. A new extension to Castlepoint, called Castlemore, is set just South West of the main complex, which features more large retail stores. Other supermarkets are located in the town centre (Asda and Co-op), Boscombe (Sainsbury'smarker) and between Westbourne and Upper Parkstone. A large Tesco Extra store is located at the end of Castle Lane East, 2 miles east of Castlepoint.


The town was a major centre for the 1951 Festival of Britain with classical concerts, opera, ballet and a visit from the Salzburg Marionettesmarker; the two weeks in June also featured a national brass band competition, sea cadet displays and different sporting events.

Bournemouth is currently host to several annual festivals. The town has had an annual Literary Festival since 2005. A Gay Pride festival named Bourne Free is held in the town each year during the summer.

Since 2008 Bournemouth has held its own air festival over four days in August. The 2009 show from 20th-23 August featured displays from the Red Arrowsmarker as well as appearances from festival regulars such as the Yakovlevs, Blades, Team Guinot Wing-Walkers, Battle of Britain Memorial Flight including Lancaster, Hurricane, Spitfire and also the last flying Vulcan. The festival also saw appearances from modern aircraft such as the Eurofighter Typhoon. The annual show is due to return in 2010.


The Bournemouth local education authority was first set up in 1903 and remained in existence until local government was reorganised in 1974 when Bournemouth lost its County Borough status and became part of the county of Dorset. Under the later reforms of 1997, Bournemouth became a unitary authority and the Bournemouth local education authority was re-established. Bournemouth is one of the minority of local authorities in England still to maintain selective education, with two grammar schools (one for boys, one for girls) and eight secondary modern/comprehensive schools. There are also a small number of independent schools in the town, and a further education college.

Bournemouth Universitymarker is one of the largest universities in the south of England. Known as Bournemouth Polytechnic between 1990 and 1992, it has its roots in the former Dorset Institute of Higher Education. It is one of the better performing ex-polytechnics in England. The main campus is however in neighbouring Poolemarker. Affiliated to the university, the Arts University College at Bournemouth, also officially in Poole, specialises in arts, design and media degree courses. Bournemouth is also a major centre for the teaching of English and has numerous English language schools. Many thousands of foreign students are attracted to the town every year, an important form of invisible trade.


Similarly to the rest of Dorset, Bournemouth's economy is primarily in the service sector, which employed 93% of the workforce in 2007. This is 10% higher than the average employment in the service sector for Great Britainmarker and the South West. The importance of the manufacturing sector has declined, and is predominantly based in neighbouring Poole, but still employs 3% of the workforce. Tourism is crucial to the economy of Bournemouth, generating £440 million a year and employing thousands of workers. Business tourism alone contributed £127 million in 2007, through delegates and business visitors attending venues such as the BIC and exhibitions in the town.

The following is a non-exhaustive list:

In April 2008, Bournemouth was announced to be the first 'Fibrecity' in the United Kingdom, with work starting in September to bring 100Mbit Broadband internet access into homes and businesses within the town; running fibre optic cables through the sewers reduces the cost and disruption to road networks during cable laying. This is part of the National Government's plans for everyone in the UK to have access to 100Mbit Broadband by 2010. A trial to the proposed 100Mbit is scheduled to begin at the end of March 2009, where 30 homes initially gain free access to the internet. As the trial continues, all businesses and homes within BH10 and BH11 are entitled to sign up for free.



Bournemouth road network is focused on a few main roads in and out of the town centre. The principal route into the town centre is the A338 dual carriageway, which joins the A31, itself the major trunk road in central southern England, connecting to the M27 at Southamptonmarker. From here the M3 leads to London, and fast access may also be gained via the A34 to the M4 north of Newbury, Berkshiremarker. National Express coaches serve Bournemouth Travel Interchange & Bournemouth University. There are frequent departures to London Victoria Coach Station. There are also direct services to the West Country, Sussex coast (Brightonmarker and Eastbournemarker), Bristolmarker, Birminghammarker and the Midlandsmarker, the North West, and to Edinburghmarker and Glasgowmarker. Flightlink serves Heathrow Airportmarker with connections to Gatwickmarker and Stansted Airportmarker.

Local buses are provided mainly by two companies, Wilts & Dorset, the former National Bus Company subsidiary and now owned by the Go-Ahead group, and Transdev Yellow Buses, the former Bournemouth Council owned company and successors to Bournemouth Corporation Transport, who began operating trams in 1902. In 1969 the town became one of the last in England to discontinue trolley buses and replace them with diesel buses.


Bournemouth is well served by the rail network with two stations in the town, Bournemouth railway stationmarker and Pokesdown railway stationmarker to the east. Parts of western Bournemouth can also be reached from Branksomemarker station. Bournemouth station is located some way from the town centre, due to the town's early leaders not wishing to have a station within the town boundary, which extended from the pier. However, the station is now well within the town, as the town has grown significantly since its founding. The station was originally ¨Bournemouth East¨ with a second station, Bournemouth Westmarker, serving the west of the town in Queens Road. South West Trains operates a comprehensive service to London Waterloomarker with a journey time of 1 hour 50 minutes. This line also serves Southamptonmarker, Winchestermarker and Basingstokemarker to the East, and Poole, Warehammarker, Dorchestermarker and Weymouth to the west. CrossCountry trains serve destinations to the north with direct trains to Readingmarker, Oxfordmarker, Birminghammarker, Wolverhamptonmarker and Manchestermarker. The Northwest, Yorkshiremarker, Newcastlemarker, Edinburgh and Glasgow can be reached by changing at Reading or Birmingham. West Coastway Line services are available by changing at Southampton Centralmarker. The Sussex Coastal towns of Chichestermarker, Worthingmarker, Hovemarker and Brighton are served and trains continue to Gatwick Airport and London Victoria.

Besides its main line railway connections, Bournemouth is also the site of three funicular railways, the East Cliff Railwaymarker, West Cliff Railwaymarker and Fisherman's Walk Cliff Railwaymarker. These are all owned and operated by Bournemouth Borough Council, and each serves to link the seaside promenade with the cliff top, at various points along the sea front.


Bournemouth Airportmarker, in Hurnmarker, just on the periphery of Bournemouth is a short journey from the town centre enabling passengers and freight to be flown directly to destinations in the UK and Europe. Taxis going to Bournemouth are available at the taxi stand on the airport and can transport one to the town centre in about 20–30 minutes. An hourly bus service also connects the airport with the town centre, travel interchange and also operates along the major hotel routes. Ryanair, EasyJet, Palmair and Thomson Airways provide scheduled services to destinations throughout Europe.

Bournemouth Eye

The Bournemouth Eye as seen from the ground.
The Bournemouth Eye is a balloon attached to a steel cable in Bournemouth. Tourists are lifted to 500 feet and can see as far as Fawley Power Station on a clear day. It's a spherical helium-filled balloon with an enclosed gondola that carries 25-30 passengers. Tethered by a high tensile steel cable, the balloon lifts to a height of 500 feet while providing a panoramic view of the English Channel and surrounding area (over 20 miles) from the highest public observation point in Bournemouth.

The highest altitude noted is rather misleading. The Civil Aviation Authority will only allow the top of the balloon to 500 ft, but the balloon stands 110 feet tall, so at the most the passengers are taken up to 390 feet above the ground. This is the maximum height that passengers are lifted to, and the operators do not always go up this high.


The Bournemouth area has long been a place where many unusual species of animals and plants can be found. Brownsea islandmarker, in nearby Poole Harbour, is one of the few places in the south where the red squirrel still remains, and the ant Formica pratensis had its last stronghold in the area, although it is now thought to be extinct on the mainland. Although described by Farren White as "the common wood ant of Bournemouth" in the mid-19th century, the noted entomologist Horace Donisthorpe found only one colony of true pratensis out of hundreds of F. rufa nests there in 1906. In recent times the last known two colonies disappeared in the 1980s, making this ant the only ant species thought to have become extinct in Great Britain. It does, however, still survive on cliff-top locations in the Channel Islands. The rare narrow-headed ant also used to exist in Bournemouth, although it has died out in the area.

Naming Conventions

The word 'Bournemouth' is often used (erroneously) to describe the South East Dorset conurbationmarker, which also contains neighbouring towns of Poolemarker, Christchurchmarker, Wimborne Minstermarker, Verwoodmarker, Ringwoodmarker and New Miltonmarker. As a result, the following misnomers have come to exist:

Twin towns

See also

Notes and references

  1. Components may not sum to totals due to rounding
  2. Includes hunting and forestry
  3. Includes energy and construction
  4. Includes financial intermediation services indirectly measured

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