Discovering Bournemouth’s founding with Gale

Bournemouth offers many attractions—but before you take off to see the Lower Gardens or the Russell-Cotes Art Gallery & Museum, why not familiarise yourself with a bit of the history of this scenic spot?

For years,  Bourne Mouth was a nearly unpopulated plot of land crossed only by fishermen and smugglers. Early newspaper mentions were generally of this aspect:

Bomo-News Morning Post
“News.” Morning Post 11 Oct. 1785. 17th and 18th Century Burney Collection. Web. 24 Mar. 2016.

In 1812, Bournemouth was ‘founded’ by Captain Lewis Tregonwell, a retired army officer who fell in love with the area while patrolling the coast line against Napoleon. He planted hundreds of pine trees and effectively brought Bournemouth into public notice as a vacation spot and spa town.

Bomo-To Let
“Advertisement and Notices.” Salisbury and Winchester Journal 11 Oct. 1824: 1+. British Library Newspapers. Web. 24 Mar. 2016.

In 1841, a mention in Augustus Granville’s The Spas of England (reviewed in The Medico-Chirugical Review, and Journal of Medical Science) boosted the town’s reputation, and additional guides and promotion followed, including The Visitor’s Guide to Bournemouth, and its Neighbourhood.

Bomo-Visitors Guide to Bournemouth
‘This pleasing spot, “embowered in tree and hardly known to fame,” the beauties of which are enhanced by the contrast afforded by the surrounding scenery, is Bournemouth, where, in a brief season, the magic hand of enterprise converted the silent and unfrequented vale into the gay resort of fashion and the favoured retreat of the invalid.’[1]
Written by Thomas Johnstone Atkin and published in 1850, this 58-page guide from Nineteenth Century Collections Online offers ‘notices of the chief objects of interest within a distance of nine miles,’ a surprising number of which are still available: the beach, of course, but also several of the gardens, Tiverton Castle (referred to as simply ‘the castle’), and the church (which had been consecrated in 1845).

Graphic, February 21 1885, British Library Newspapers

By February 1885, London itself had taken note to the point of featuring ‘literary notes’ on Bournemouth in the Graphic. Attributing Bournemouth’s existence to the passage in a book by Sir James Clark, the Queen’s physician, the Graphic touches on Bournemouth’s famous pinewood and recommends for all visitors the late Mr Bankes “History of Corfe Castle” as a ‘classic in topographical literature.’ For those interested in the history – or at least local lore – of these castles, I strongly recommend the rollicking Castles and Their Heroes: by Barabara Hutton, 1868 (Chapter IV: Corfe Castle).

Also in 1885, the Mont Dore Hotel sprung up, a famous health resort whose foundation stone was laid by Oscar II, King of Sweden, and is now the town hall.

Bomo-Punch & Judy

Photograph Instantaneous, Beach View, Bournemouth, Punch & Judy near Centre of Picture, with Children in Front, from East Side of Pier. William Wood Perkins. Photographer: William Wood Perkins. Page 276. 1887. Nineteenth Century Collections Online

During World War I, this seaside resort hotel was taken over by the government and became a hospital. The Daily Telegraph reports on 24 November 1915 that ‘visitors staying there are being transferred to other hotels’ to accommodate wounded Indian soldiers.

Bomo-Mount Dore Hotel 1915
Mont Dore Hospital, Bournemouth, which in time of peace was one of the most exclusive hotels in all Bournemouth, and has been converted into a hospital for the care of our wounded Indians

Indian wounded out for a motor ride, Mont Dore Hospital, Bournemouth from  Nineteenth Century Collections Online

Today, attractions include the Victorian – including the Winter Gardens, the ancestor of Captain Tregonwell’s tree-planting—as well as the modern (after all, The Times did declare this ‘Britain’s sexiest resort’ in 1998).

Enjoy the historical and the contemporary sights while you’re in town – and we look forward to seeing you at Stand 45 at UKSG 2016!

Bomo-West Cliff Tabernacle
Photograph of Exterior of West Cliff Tabernacle, Bournemouth. John Tait. Photographer: John Tait. Page 111 1892 Nineteenth Century Collections Online

[1] Aitkin, Thomas Johnstone. The Visitor’s Guide to Bournemouth, and Its Neighbourhood. 3rd ed. London; Sydenham: Ackerman; Bournemouth and Poole, 1850. Nineteenth Century Collections Online.

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About the Author

I joined Gale in 2011 and currently work as Strategic Marketing Manager for Gale International. I’m an avid (obsessive) reader, coffee and tea lover, and travel maven. With a background in romance languages and literature, I particularly love working with Gale’s many historical and literary resources.