Living in Bournemouth
What is life like in Bournemouth
Bournemouth's appeal is obvious. Enjoying an idyllic location on the south coast, the town is situated almost mid-way along an unbroken seven mile stretch of stunning sandy beach front. It has won many awards for its safe bathing, amenities and safe, clear waters and benefits from some of the warmest and sunniest weather anywhere in the UK.
It is a town that can cater for everyone, ranging from a young and thriving student scene right through to a sizeable and active pensioner population. Whatever people are looking for, they will find it and more in Bournemouth, with the town regularly being voted one of the happiest places to live in the country.
Famous as one of the UK's most popular seaside resorts, Bournemouth actually has much more to offer than simply being a great coastal destination. It has developed modern shopping facilities across seven different zones in recent years, ranging from individual boutiques to major stores and fashion outlets while also encouraging a vibrant social scene that provides for all ages. The pace of life is relaxed and the standard of living is high, making Bournemouth a pleasant place to be.
Residents need only to venture out of Bournemouth a short distance to find several examples of rural beauty. With the rugged coastline of The Purbecks to the west, including the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site, and the New Forest National Park to the east, the area is able to offer a remarkable landscape that is ideal for walking and cycling along with a great choice of outdoor pursuits to challenge all levels of fun seekers.
Bournemouth dates back to at least the 18th century, when the Lord of the Manor built a lodge and hunting ground within several acres of land. This was roughly where Debenhams now stands in The Square, the central point of the town centre.
Lewis Tregonwell is widely believed to be the founder of Bournemouth, as his troop of Dorset Volunteer Rangers patrolled the area in the latter part of the 18th century. He brought his wife Henrietta to the area and she fell in love with it, leading to him building a mansion and numerous cottages.
Queen Victoria was known to be fond of Bournemouth and granted it borough status in 1890, meaning the people who lived there were able to gain greater control of their town. In the preceding years, hospitals, schools, libraries and houses were built at a faster rate thanks to the efforts of local people.
In the early part of the 20th Century, Bournemouth expanded rapidly as it amalgamated with the surrounding areas of Westbourne, Boscombe Spa and Southbourne-on-Sea. The majority of the current suburbs were established in the 1920s and 1930s, including areas such as Talbot Woods, Queens Park, Littledown and Charminster.
By the middle of the 20th Century, Bournemouth had evolved into one of the UK's major towns and this remained the case until 1974, when some of its powers were handed to Dorset County Council. However, this was reversed in 1997 when Bournemouth became a unitary authority.
Bournemouth has been the home of numerous famous people over the years. Former Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp and his ex-footballer son Jamie both live in the area, while Hollywood actress Janet Montgomery was born in the town.
A number of celebrities can trace their education back to Bournemouth, with the likes of Gareth Malone, Amanda Holden and Christian Bale all having studied there.
Entertainment, sport and days out
The beach is an obvious favourite spot for locals and tourists alike, with Bournemouth's sandy shoreline providing the perfect place to relax on sunny days. The long promenade is a wonderful option for a walk or a bike ride, while the town's pier is packed with amusements and great views.
Culture vultures can look towards the Russell-Cotes Art Gallery and Museum if they wish to brush up on their knowledge of 19th century art and Japanese artefacts. Meanwhile, St Peter's Church is a similarly impressive venue, and it is the final resting place of Frankenstein author Mary Shelly.
For the biggest names in music, comedy and theatre, people should head to the Bournemouth International Centre, the town's largest entertainment venue. It hosts some of the UK's most famous performers so its calendar of events is well worth a look.
And romantic individuals might wish to treat their loved one to a ride on the Bournemouth Eye, which offers tethered balloon flights that rise to approximately 500 ft in the air. These provide memorable panoramic views across Bournemouth and the surrounding areas.
For those of a more sporty nature, Bournemouth has a good range of amenities available to all. There are a two public golf courses close to the town centre, Meyrick Park and Queens Park golf clubs, whilst there are many more to choose from within a ten to fifteen mile radius. There are also various local football, cricket and rugby clubs who are always on the lookout for new players to recruit.
The town’s football club, AFC Bournemouth, are now in the Premier League, meaning the country’s top teams provide regular opposition. Promotion to the top flight in 2014/15 has helped to put Bournemouth on the map.
There are several leisure centres in Bournemouth, including the Littledown Centre, the Stokewood Leisure Centre and Pelhams Park. These allow people to engage in their favourite activities and keep fit.
Eating, drinking & shopping
As one of the UK's most vibrant town centres, it is no surprise that Bournemouth is home to a wide range of restaurants, bars and pubs, all of which enable local people to build busy and enjoyable social lives.
It has more than 40 nightclub venues and as many as 30,000 people descend on the town each weekend. Bournemouth is just as popular with diners, with everything from fine cuisine to fish and chips on offer.
The Richmond Hill area is known for its European-style restaurants, with the Print Room a particularly good choice. There are more places to eat in Westbourne and Charminster.
Much of the town centre is pedestrianised, which makes it ideal for shoppers on foot. It is easy to get around and visit some of Bournemouth's prime retail zones. Many of the main shopping outlets are in the middle of the town itself and include stores such as House of Fraser, BHS, Beales and Debenhams, whilst in Commercial Road one can find Marks & Spencers, H&M, Ann Summers, Zara and more.
Designer clothes and interior design shops are more commonly found in Westbourne, while Boscombe is famous for its quaint antiques shops and a street market that any bargain hunter will fall in love with.
Schools & healthcare
There are dozens of schools in Bournemouth to suit all ages, with more than 20 dedicated to educating primary school age youngsters, Kings Park and Winton being just two of the options available in this category.
A similarly impressive list of secondary schools exists, with institutions located in all parts of the town. Bournemouth School is one of the most popular choices and remains a hit with pupils and parents from miles around.
Those seeking healthcare in the town will be able to visit the Royal Bournemouth Hospital, which has almost 700 beds and provides care and treatment for all manner of illnesses and injuries. There is also a hospital in neighbouring Poole.
Bournemouth is well connected both by road and rail. It has two train stations – Bournemouth and Pokesdown – which are part of the south coast network, making it easy for people to travel to Southampton, Portsmouth and beyond. There is also a direct service to London Waterloo, which takes less than two hours to reach the capital.
A local bus service connects the station with the town centre, as well as all parts of Bournemouth and the wider Dorset area. These are run by Wilts & Dorset and Transdev Yellow Buses.
The local road network includes the A338 and A31, which along with several other key routes allow drivers in Bournemouth to reach the rest of the south coast, the West Country and the Home Counties quickly and easily.