Summer Holiday: Pt 19 – Bournemouth, Dorset

From Poole we made the short journey over to Bournemouth, the larger of the two towns, and found a car park overlooking the beach…


Status: Bournemouth Unitary District, Dorset, Town, England

Date: 15/08/2013

Travel: Car

Eating & Sleeping: N/A

Attractions: Beach, Pier, Pier Theatre, Oceanarium, Amusement Arcade, Rides, St Andrew’s Church, Lower Gardens, Central Gardens, Upper Gardens, Visitor Information, Town Hall, War Memorial, Russell-Cotes Museum and Art Gallery etc

Bournemouth 1

Our first stop was the beach, it was just down a little path from the car park, and it was flanked by an impressive pier. Unlike a lot of piers which have cast iron supports with a wooden decking on top, the supports for Bournemouth Pier are concrete.

It is the second pier built in the town, the original only being a small wooden jetty. The new pier was designed by Eugenius Birch (1818 – 1884) and opened in 1880 after the first was eventually demolished due to it having Terede Worm, which can badly damage timber structures. Extensions in 1894 and 1909 took the piers overall length to over 1000 metres. When World War II broke out, piers in England were mostly demolished to stop them aiding the German’s landing on the coast, and Bournemouth was no exception. In 1946 at the end of the war it was rebuilt, and refurbished. 10 years later it was rebuilt using concrete as a more solid foundation, and a theatre now sits on the pier.

It’s a great view gazing at the pier, the sun was shining, the sand was golden and it was a great day in general. We explored the pier, and enjoyed the sea views.

Bournemouth 2

Looking left from the beach towards the coast of Hampshire, we got a fantastic view of the Isle of Wight, which is a county in it’s own right. Completely cut off from the mainland, people have to rely on the ferry service from Portsmouth or Southampton to make it over to the island. There is a railway there to take you from the ferry dock into the main town, Newport. You can’t tell on the picture, but using a good zoom on the camera we could just make out the famous Isle of Wight needles, a series of stone structures in the sea that have taken the shape of a line of pointed needles.

Bournemouth 4

Along the beach are various attractions, including an Oceanarium, which contains hundreds of different aquatic species. This area leads onto an Amusement Arcade and a few rides that are popular with the tourists.

Bournemouth 5

Above is the aforementioned Amusement Arcade with the rides outside. The pier is just behind the arcade, and the whole area was packed with tourists. It was quite a hot day, so we moved on from here into the gardens across the way. Also in this area you can find the Bournemouth Visitor Information Centre.

Bournemouth 6

The gardens stretch for a couple of miles through the town, with the river Bourne twisting and turning its way through them. There are three gardens all joined together, the Lower, Central and Upper Gardens. We started in the Lower Gardens.

Bournemouth 7

Also in the Lower Gardens is a large hot air balloon, that you can actually pay to go on, on an aerial tour of the town. It’s a shame they had finished for the day when we got there, it would been a fantastic opportunity.

The gardens remind me of Edinburgh, which has the gardens down near the train line with the two halves of the cities rising up around them, similar to here. The gardens here are beautiful, and immaculately kept.

Bournemouth 8

There is a wide range of different types of flowers, trees and borders spread out around the three sets of gardens, and make a great place to just relax and watch the world go by. We stopped here for a moment to enjoy the sunshine and the great flower arrangements.

Bournemouth 9

This is the mid point, between the Lower and Central Gardens, which connects back into the main streets of the town. It was incredibly busy, and there were performances by local people including a band and some street performers. At the back of the picture you can see the spire of St Andrew’s United Reformed Church on Richmond Hill rising above the trees. It is the largest church in the town, and dates back to 1891, replacing a smaller church on the site from 1856.

Bournemouth 10

I got a closer shot of St Andrew’s church spire further on, as we got into the Central Gardens. I quite like this photograph, as it shows how well the gardens have wrapped themselves around the rest of the town and it’s a truly restful place to be, with life all around you, that you can just watch, but not interact with.

Bournemouth 11

Further into the Central Gardens, we found an ornate War Memorial, built in 1921 by Albert Edward Shervey.

Bournemouth 12

At the front there is a set of steps leading up to it, with a stone lion at either side. It was built in 1921, and the lions are actually copies of these that guard the tomb of Pope Clement XIII, which is in St Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City.

The eagled eyed amongst you might have noticed that the left lion is asleep, whilst the right one is awake and starting to roar, as though someone has been caught trespassing and woken one of them.

Bournemouth 13

The final building we saw was the one above, owned by Bournemouth Council, and used as the Town Hall. It was originally the Mont Dore Hotel, which was renowned in the 1880’s for having one of England’s first telephones. This is shown in the fact that the number to reach it was simply “3”. After use as a hospital in World War I to treat casualties of war, the council bought it in 1921 (the reason the War Memorial was put opposite it) and are still there today.

We didn’t have time to go any further into the gardens, and missed out on the Upper Gardens, as it was getting late and we had to get back to Weymouth. We saw a lot of the town, with is a beautiful place, and my overall favourite town down South. We headed back through the gardens to the car, and moved on, back towards Weymouth.

There is a lot to see in Bournemouth, which is a popular seaside resort, with lots of fancy hotels and shops around the gardens, and further into the town.

The train stations provides connections to Weymouth, Poole, Southampton, Christchurch, London and many more, and there are a number of local airports, including Southampton International and the London airports.

Other attractions in the town include Russell-Cotes Art Gallery and Museum, which is very close to where we started our visit to the town, but further along the coast a bit. There are various churches around the city, which all look fabulous and the spires really add something to the area.

If you ever in Dorset, and want a relaxing day by the coast with some beautiful scenery both out to sea and within the town itself, then Bournemouth is perfect.

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