Bournemouth Bicentenary

PUBLISHED: 17:35 22 July 2010 | UPDATED: 17:36 20 February 2013

Royal Bath Hotel built in 1838

Royal Bath Hotel built in 1838

2010 marks Bournemouth's 200th birthday. Edward Griffiths reveals how the town was established and how it is celebrating this momentous milestone

The Founding of Bournemouth

2010 marks Bournemouths 200th birthday. Edward Griffiths reveals how the town was established and how it is celebrating this momentous milestone

Two hundred years ago, on 14 July 1810, wealthy retired Captain, Lewis Tregonwell, from Anderson near Bere Regis, and his wife, Henrietta, took a day trip during their summer holiday in Mudeford. Tregonwell wanted to show Henrietta where he had once commanded a troop of volunteer Dorset Rangers protecting the uninhabited Poole Bay coastline from smugglers. Approaching their destination, the Tregonwells would have passed the Tapps Arms, on the Iford and Christchurch road, not far from the Bourne Stream.

Built in 1809, the inn was named after Sir George Ivison-Tapps, Lord of the Manor of Christchurch, who owned the land. Henrietta was so enchanted with the splendidly isolated spot, that she and Lewis decided theyd like to live there. Barely two months later, on 25 September 1810, they bought a large plot of heathland overlooking the chine (a deep, narrow ravine) which carried the Bourne Stream to the sea.

Here, on this lovely spot, the Tregonwells built their summer villa, The Mansion, now the central section of the present Royal Exeter Hotel. Incidentally, it is called Exeter after the Marchioness of Exeter, who leased The Mansion between 1820 and 1837. Around the extensive grounds, the Tregonwells built cottages for staff and visitors, eventually offering them to let. When George Tapps son inherited his fathers vast estates in 1835, he saw the possibilities of developing Bourne Mouth into a successful holiday town like Weymouth, and built two hotels. One of these was the Bath Hotel, later the Royal Bath, built in 1838 on Bath Hill, although today it is much larger than originally planned.

The second, The Belle Vue, later found itself in the way of Bournemouth Corporations plans for an Art Deco theatre, The Pavilion, so it was demolished in 1928. From these small, and relatively slow beginnings grew the thriving international holiday resort we know today.

Either 14 July or 25 September could be considered Bournemouths foundation day but Bournemouth Borough Council, rather than choosing a specific day, have embarked on a year-long celebration, with events and activities for residents and visitors alike involving various local clubs, groups and societies. Aiming to stage 200 events to celebrate 200 years, the programme of events has been planned to suit every taste and to reflect the amazing diversity that makes up the exciting town of Bournemouth.

It all kicked off with the New Years Day Bicentenary Launch and fireworks in the Lower Gardens and, encouraged by the Chair of the Bicentenary Celebrations, Councillor Anne Filer, Head of Leisure and Tourism, hosts of individuals, artists and musicians have continued with the celebrations over the subsequent months, and theyll still be going until December. Events have certainly been diverse, and so far have included fun runs, fashion shows and flower festivals but, as we enter August and late summer, there are still a host of exciting events to come.


Bournemouth has excellent road and rail links, and now Bournemouth International Airport has its brand-new multi-million pound terminal. Bournemouth Central railway station is part of the modern Travel Interchange in Holdenhurst Road, where South West Trains London (Waterloo) services meet National Express Coaches and rows of local bus connections to all parts of Dorset and the local area. Route numbers are far too many to list here, but details are available from

National Express 08717 818178 and

Bournemouths Transdev Yellow Buses 01202 636060 and

Wilts and Dorset Buses 01202 673555 and

National Rail enquiries 08457 484950

Upcoming Events

Until 31 October: Views of Bournemouth at the Russell-Cotes Art Gallery & Museum celebrates Bournemouths bicentenary through an engaging mixture of local history objects from the collections and specially created contemporary artworks by Bournemouth Arts Club.

2-8 August: Bournemouth Carnival Week which, beginning as Regatta Week, has been going since 1880 and includes a mixture of childrens events and evening entertainment including the decorated boats which date back to the early 1900s. This years Bournemouth Carnival has a new route, starting at Monkey Island on the East Overcliff Drive at 2.15pm and finishing on the Pier Precinct, where there will be an area set up to display the entrants for a short while before dispersing.

6-7 August: Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra Weekend of Magic at Meyrick Park. Both concerts feature huge LED screens, special lighting effects, a fantastic fireworks finale and specially choreographed fire fountains, never seen before in the UK. On Friday 6th, A Celebration of the Sea includes popular classics such as Fingals Cave, Rule Britannia, Jerusalem and an explosive 1812 Overture. Saturday 7th sees Galactic Classics, with space-themed soundtracks including E.T., Apollo 13, Star Wars and Avatar. BSO Box Office: 01202 669925,

9-15 August: Bournemouth Natural Science Society, Christchurch Road. A new exhibition tells the story of Bournemouths Geology, Archaeology and Wildlife using specimens from the societys collections, including natural history specimens and finds from archaeological digs in and around the Bournemouth area. 10.30am-4pm.

18 August: Boscombe Resource Centre, 2a Owls Road. Held in conjunction with the centres Summer Fayre, this exhibition features photographs and recollections about the changing landscape and architecture surrounding Boscombe. 11am-2pm. 01202 309745

19-22 August: Bournemouth Air Festival. This legendary free event, which plays out above Bournemouths golden sands, provides plenty of excitement, with day and night air displays. 08450 511700,

11 September: Getting Here, a talk by Peter Kazmierczak, is about aspects of Bournemouths transport history and is part of the Russell Cotes Museum and Art Gallerys Talks and Master Classes. 2.30pm
12 September: Classic Cars on the Prom, West Overcliff Promenade. This annual event has ever-changing displays of vehicles from 1915 to 1980. New this season is Car of the Week sponsored by Hot Rocks Caf on Pier Approach. The displays are open to all cars and motor bikes registered before August 1983.

Thanks to Councillor Anne Filer and also to Katie Barr at Bournemouth Tourism

Thanks to Jackie Edwards for assistance with early hotels information. Her book A Bed by the Sea: A History of Bournemouths Hotels is published by Natula Limited

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