Title: Lesser Known Bournemouth
Author: Steve Roberts
RRP: £12.99
Publication date: 14 Nov 2019
Format: 234 x 156 mm
Number of pages: 224 pp
ISBN: 9781906651-336
Illustrations: 266
Maps: 8

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A contemporary look at Bournemouth, highlighting the local people and places that make the town special.

Rather like having your own personal guide, this book offers a close-up view of Bournemouth – past and present. Packed with surprising facts and stories, and interviews with local people, it will inspire you to explore the town and show you what many visitors, and even residents, often miss. With seven walks suitable for all ages, use it to explore the fascinating town centre, the beautiful chines, the lively area around the Lansdowne, the best of Westbourne and Boscombe, Hengistbury Head, and the quietness of Throop and Holdenhurst where you can get away from the busy side of Bournemouth.

Local people ... Who was hunting Jack the Ripper, then retired to Bournemouth?
Local interest ... Which famous female architect was born and schooled in the town?
Local names ... Whatever happened to the hamlet of Muccleshell?
Intrigue ... What happened at the Highcliff Hotel in May 1940 that was so crucial?
Nature ... Where in Bournemouth might you hear the mating call of the natterjack toad?
Literary connections ... Who was known as the ‘Bard of Bournemouth’?
Local history ... How is the town linked to the ‘Profumo Affair’ and the ‘Great Train Robbery’?


This book is part of a series of Lesser Known guides published by Roving Press looking at Dorset towns. Having authored Lesser Known Christchurch (2015), I was delighted to be asked to write this new book, as I lived in Bournemouth between 1986 and 1998 and talk about the town in my guise as a public speaker. I also wanted to write a book looking at the whole borough, as there is a lot more to Bournemouth than simply its town centre. For instance, Bournemouth has 21 nature conservation areas, helping provide protection to the area.
     Bournemouth is a place with hidden treasures, surprising history and stories awaiting discovery. It is a sad truism that we often overlook what is on our doorstep, so this book will appeal to both residents, wishing to know more about their town, and visitors. As well as descriptions of places, people and events that make Bournemouth special, there are contributions from those living and working here. There are also seven walks to help you explore. Many of the places mentioned in the text are featured in the walks and shown on the respective maps, which I hope will be a useful aid to discovering the town.



A Brief History

Rivers and Seafront

Gardens and Nature Areas

Historic Parks
Other Public Open Spaces and Nature Reserves

The Arts

A History of Art and Artists in the Area
The Art Scene Today
Books and Authors
Travel Literature
Dance and Drama
Film and TV

Folklore and Characters

Things that Go ‘Bump’
Murders and Deaths
Other Oddities

Family Fun and Other Activities
Boating and Ferries
Bournemouth Aviary
Pier Approach – Big Wheel and Aquarium
City Sightseeing Bournemouth
Land Trains
Miniature Railway
Play Areas
Youth Centres and Groups
Bournemouth Pier


Sport and Leisure
Water Sports, Fishing, Football, Cricket, Golf, Bowls and Pétanque, Tennis, Squash and Racquetball, Athletics, Cycling and BMX, Swimming and Water Polo, Shooting, Archery and Darts, Rugby Union, Hockey, Baseball, Boxing and Wrestling, Ice Skating and Roller Skating
Other Facilities
Some that Have Been and Gone
Leisure Centres

Regular Events


Interesting Buildings and Businesses
Department Stores
Railway Stations
Brompton Court
Town Hall
The Pavilion
The Opera House, Boscombe (O2 Academy Bournemouth)
Russell-Cotes House, Gallery and Garden
Other Interesting Buildings


Walk 1: Town Centre
Walk 2: East Cliff and Lansdowne
Walk 3: Chines and West Cliff 
Walk 4: Westbourne
Walk 5: Boscombe
Walk 6: Wick and Tuckton, and Hengistbury Head
Walk 7: Muscliff, Throop and Holdenhurst
Other Walks and Cycling Routes

Some Outlying Areas of the Borough

Help and Information
Maps, TIC, Transport, Russell-Cotes Art Gallery and Museum, Bournemouth Library, Lifeguards

Bournemouth’s Plaques


EXTRACT FROM THE BOOK – from the section on ‘Historic Parks

Bournemouth’s commoners had rights of ‘turbary’ (cutting turf for fuel) on five plots of land, rights they had virtually ceased to exercise by the early 1880s. Bournemouth Park Lands Act (1889) authorised using the plots as ‘open spaces for the recreation and enjoyment of the public’. Frederick Lacey, a borough engineer and surveyor, was instrumental in the disposal of these plots.

     Of Bournemouth’s five large parks, Meyrick Park (194 acres), which opened in 1894, is closest to the town centre. The land and four other parks were given to Bournemouth by Sir George Meyrick. ‘Father Christmas’ (Cyril Beale) landed here in an aeroplane in 1912. A ‘loop the loop’ record (21 loops) was set over the park in 1914 by pioneering British aviator Gustav Hamel. It was also the venue for the annual display of Bournemouth Volunteer Fire Brigade. Meyrick Park water tower (built in 1900, and demolished in 1989) was the first ferro-concrete water tower in Britain. The park is home to a variety of sports, including golf which occupies half the acreage. Just west of the golf course, across Glenferness Avenue, is Pug’s Hole, a small nature reserve and hidden gem, named after local smuggler ‘Captain Pug’ who is believed to have buried treasure here. Hidden away in the woods around Talbot Heath School, it consists of a valley with steep wooded slopes. Common birds seen here include woodpecker, nuthatch, coal tit and treecreeper.

[Meyrick Park - Oakmedians RFC]

     Kings Park (86½ acres) opened in 1902 to mark the coronation of King Edward VII. Common lizards and slowworms can be seen on the heath in summer. A small octagonal bandstand was removed from the end of Boscombe Pier and re-erected in Kings Park in 1906. There were once lion enclosures in the park, with the animals taken to the theatre in Boscombe, where they appeared in an indoor circus. Kings Park is known for its play areas, football and cricket; it also has a meadow and heathland conservation area to the north-west, with a small wooded area.
Queens Park (173 acres) also opened in 1902. With views of the New Forest, this park in the heart of Charminster includes a playground and café. The park is cared for in partnership with Queens Park Improvement and Protection Society (QUIPS). The area was originally known as Poors Common due to its poor-quality soil. Queens Park like Kings Park dates to 1902 and honours Edward VII’s wife Alexandra. Queens Park’s golf course (1905) is surrounded by one of the largest open areas in Bournemouth, which includes a large pond, home to water birds, damselflies and dragonflies.

[Queens Park - pond]


‘unbelievably comprehensive ... It is inconceivable to think that there is anything you might want to know about the town, its history and things to do that are not covered in some way by it.’ Dorset Life

‘an informative, imaginative and well-researched book about Christchurch. It's a great read and would suit residents and visitors alike, so buy it, read it, and share in the author’s love for a town that sounds well worth visiting.’ Amazon review



Steve Roberts was born in Worcester in 1957 and brought up and educated in the Vale of Evesham. He completed teacher training in Birmingham, then taught in Brighton, Southend and Uxbridge, before moving to Bournemouth and marrying Val in 1984. He worked in IT for many years, becoming a project manager and Chartered Insurer. He set himself up as a freelance writer, public speaker and private tutor in 2012, and has had non-fiction articles published in around 50 different magazines.
He has now written two books for Roving Press – Lesser Known Christchurch and Lesser Known Bournemouth.

Steve's Twitter page


Bournemouth libraries –

Russell-Cotes Museum –

Tourist Information –

Boscombe Chine Gardens and Nature Reserve –

City Sightseeing Bournemouth –

Friends of Hengistbury Head Lookout –

Bournemouth Boating –

Hattie Miles walkingtalks –


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