Bournemouth is a large coastal resort town on the south coast of England directly to the east of the Jurassic Coast, a 95-mile (153 km) World Heritage Site. Before it was founded in 1810 by Lewis Tregonwell, the area was a deserted heathland occasionally visited by fishermen and smugglers. Initially marketed as a health resort, the town received a boost when it appeared in Dr Granville's book, The Spas of England.
Bournemouth's growth really accelerated with the arrival of the railway and it became a recognised town in 1870. Historically part of Hampshire, it joined Dorset with the reorganisation of local government in 1974. Since 1997, the town has been administered by a unitary authority, giving it autonomy from Dorset County Council although it remains however part of the ceremonial county. The local council is Bournemouth Borough Council.
The town centre has notable Victorian architecture and the 202-foot (62 m) spire of St Peter's Church, one of three Grade I listed churches in the borough, is a local landmark. Bournemouth's location has made it a popular destination for tourists, attracting over five million visitors annually with its beaches and popular nightlife. The town is also a regional centre of business, home of the Bournemouth International Centre or BIC, and a financial sector that is worth more than £1,000 million in Gross Value Added.
- Bournemouth has three Grade I listed churches, St Peter's and St Stephen's in the town centre and St Clemment's in Boscombe.
- The borough has two piers: Bournemouth Pier, close to the town centre, and the shorter, but architecturally more important Boscombe Pier.
- Built as the Mont Dore Hotel in 1881, Bournemouth Town Hall was designated a Grade II listed building in 2001. Designed by Alfred Bedborough in the French, Italian and neo-classical styles, the foundation stone was laid by King Oscar II of Sweden and Norway and the hotel opened in 1885.
- Built in the Art Deco style in 1929, situated close to the seafront, the Pavilion Theatre was at the time considered to be the greatest ever municipal enterprise for the benefit of entertainment.
- The Bournemouth Eye is a helium-filled balloon attached to a steel cable in the town's lower gardens.
More about Bournemouth:
- The first record of Bournemouth as a place name was in the Christchurch cartulary of 1407, when a monk noted a stranded whale at "La Bournemowthe"; a purely geographical reference to the uninhabited area around the mouth of the small river that drained the heathland between the towns of Poole and Christchurch.
- In the late 19th and early 20th centuries the Borough of Bournemouth would grow to encompass a number of ancient settlements along the River Stour, including Longham where a skull thought to be 5,500 years old was found in 1932.
- Bronze Age burials near Moordown, and the discovery of Iron Age pottery on the East Cliff in 1969, suggest there may have been settlements there during that period.
- In a 2007 survey by First Direct, Bournemouth was found to be the happiest place in the UK, with 82% of people questioned saying they were happy with their lives.
- The town was especially rich in literary associations during the late 19th century and earlier years of the 20th century. P. C. Wren author of Beau Geste, Frederick E. Smith, writer of the 633 Squadron books, and Beatrice Webb, later Potter, all lived in the town.
- The writer J. R. R. Tolkien, spent 30 years taking holidays in Bournemouth, staying in the same room at the Hotel Miramar.