Dorset walk around Boscombe and King’s Park
16:59 13 February 2017
Edward Griffiths explores Boscombe’s history - from royal connections to artisans’ homes - with a few surprises along the way
Originally planned as a residential area for artisans working on the grander properties in Bournemouth, Boscombe grew in popularity as a rival ‘watering place’ to its wealthier neighbour, gaining the name ‘Boscombe Spa’ in the late 1860s due to the discovery of spring waters similar to those at Harrogate. Sir Henry Drummond Woolf built a thatched-roof building for visitors around the spring at the foot of Boscombe Chine.
The Royal Arcade & The Boscombe Devil
This impressive late Victorian arcade was built by Archibald Beckett in 1892, and it is home to a fascinating array of independent shops. Outside the building look up and you will notice the large stone figure on top of the block with the first-floor balconies opposite. This is known locally as The Boscombe Devil and it was put there in 1896 by opponents of the new Grand Pavilion Theatre (now the O2 Academy) which was built next to the Arcade in 1895 to show disapproval at the theatre’s decision to open on Sundays. The venue has over the years been a circus, a theatre, a ballroom and a nightclub.
• Distance: 4½ miles (7.25 km)
• Time: 3½ hours
• Exertion: Easy
• Start: Boscombe Overcliff Drive, near Boscombe Cliff Gardens end. Free parking areas (Grid Ref: SZ118913)
• Map: OS Landranger Sheet 195
• Public Transport: None
• Dogs: On leads in parks and on roads
• Refreshments: King’s Park Café or several cafés in Boscombe and Sovereign Centre
1. Cross the grass to the cliff path and turn west. At ‘The Overcliff Local Nature Reserve’ stay on the top into Boscombe Cliff Gardens. Walk through and leave onto the left path above Honeycombe Beach Apartments. Continue to The Marina with Moorish-style San Remo Towers to your right. Go down the hill towards Boscombe Pier. Pass through the car park and meander down to the pier, noticing the elegant Undercliff Road terrace to your right. From the pier, cross past the island sculpture and replica Boscombe Spa shelter into Boscombe Chine Gardens. Follow the chine path, passing left ‘Bournemouth Pier’ path. Past the children’s playground, and under the footbridge, continue up the main to ‘Christchurch Road’.
2. Over the pedestrian crossing, turn left. Cross Knyveton Road lights and continue, passing the grand East Cliff Lodge, with gargoyles, on your left. At Derby Road traffic lights, turn right. Notice left Number 7 Art Deco ‘Pendennis’. Reach Langtry Manor Hotel on the right corner; this is where Edward VII installed his mistress Lillie Langtry as it was a short carriage ride from Bournemouth’s railway station. Turn right into Knyveton Road and, with several big old houses amongst the blocks of flats, reach the traffic lights again and turn left into Christchurch Road. Walk up past the ‘Boscombe’ sign and past right shops and St John’s Church. Past ‘The Crescent’ gardens, continue between shops and past left Palmerston Arms Hotel, noticing the elegant frontages above the shops.
3. Pass left Palmerston Road and turn into ‘Royal Arcade’. Turn left under the ornate glass dome (The Sovereign Centre entrance is straight on) and leave into Palmerston Road. Over the crossing, go right and continue along Palmerston Road, passing right Centenary Way and left ‘Cemetery Masons’ above the butcher’s shop opposite Boscombe Baptist Church. Take the next right, Shelley Road, noticing the huge water tower on your left before the old Royal Victoria and West Hants Hospital. Reaching Ashley Road T-junction, cross over and turn left.
4. Over the railway bridge and past King’s Park Academy, go through King’s Park gateway. Follow the Tarmac pathway right of the drive. After the left café, a path left of the bowling green leads to A.F.C. Bournemouth’s ‘Vitality Stadium’. But, carry on along the path to a T-junction where swing right to pass the Indoor Bowling Centre. Cross at the roundabout to the left path, still following the drive, to pass King’s Park Athletics Centre where the drive ends. Keep following the Tarmac path, bending right for ‘Pokesdown’ around the right East Cemetery. Reaching the cemetery gates, go through and keep straight on. Past the Chapel continue to the Gloucester Road gates. Through, turn left, cross the railway bridge and continue to Christchurch Road T-junction. Cross the pedestrian crossing and turn right.
5. In a few yards, go left into ‘Woodland Walk’ for ‘The Overcliff’. Stay on the Tarmac path at the road fork and cross Beechwood Avenue. Keep straight on and emerge into Woodland Avenue. Past Boscombe Cliff Bowling Club, meet the Overcliff Drive, cross over and follow the cliff path right for ¼ mile. Take the right path before the shelter and cross Overcliff Drive again into Chessel Avenue. Walk to the end crossing and turn left into Beechwood Avenue. On the left corner is Shelley Manor Medical Centre, originally Boscombe Manor. The property was bought as a small cottage with acres of land by Sir Percy Florence Shelley, son of Percy Bysshe Shelley and Mary Woolstonecraft Shelley in 1849. It was considerably enlarged, and in 1873 was given its title of Boscombe Manor. After this, take the path past the left tennis courts, across Shelley Park and over the end boardwalk back into Overcliff Drive. Cross over to find the parking area where you started.