How things have changed.... 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 only gangs of smugglers in the 16th century.
1802 - 1839
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
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 Weymouth and Brighton. 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.
1840 - 1920s
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 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 Midlands 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 & Museum was housed in his mansion and after his death it was given to the town.
1930s - 1980s
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 town's 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 postwar era.
In 1880, the town had a population of 17,000 people. By 1900 this had risen to 60,000, and by 1990 it had more than doubled again, reaching 150,000. In the latest census, the town had a population of 163,441. Since the 1990s there have been increasing calls for the town, together with Poole, to attain official city status (as per the example of Brighton & Hove) due to its sheer expanse and regional importance.
1980s - present day
In 1980 Bournemouth was one of the first areas outside a major city to get its own independent radio station. 2CR FM broadcasts from near Bournemouth railway station; its name, meaning 2 Counties' Radio, is derived from the fact that its broadcast area includes parts of the counties of Dorset and Hampshire.
A new £9.5 million library was completed in 2003, winning the Prime Minister's Better Public Building Award in the British Construction Industry Awards competition in recognition of its relatively low cost and high fit with client requirements.
In recent years the town has attracted a high number of jobs in financial services, with JP Morgan Chase, LV= and Portman Building Society all opening major offices. JP Morgan Chase has a large campus style office on the outskirts of the town in the Littledown area supplemented by further offices in the town centre, and employs over 4,000 people in the town. The financial sector is one of the largest sources of income for Bournemouth in addition to tourism.
In 2016 a major new leisure complex was built in the town centre named BH2. The large development is home to numerous restaurants and a new Odeon cinema.
Historic Bournemouth Photo Gallery