My home town is an enigma of a place, throughout it's short history the town has reinvented itself several times. From the rich Victorians holiday getaway to a sanatorium for the ill, from the retirement capital of the UK to one of the biggest holiday resorts in the UK. It is now a vibrant, fresh town with a younger age of inhabitants.
Bournemouth now attracts people of all ages from party animals to the chill out brigade.
What is now known as central Bournemouth barely existed at the start of the century.
When retired army officer Lewis Tregonwell visited in 1810, he found only a bridge crossing a small stream at the head of an unspoilt valley. An inn had recently been built at what is now the Square, catering both for travellers and for the smugglers who lurked in the area at night.
Captain Tregonwell and his wife were so impressed by the area that they bought several acres and built a home, which is today part of the Royal Exeter Hotel. Tregonwell also planted the first of its pine trees, providing a sheltered walk to the beach. The town was to grow up around its scattered pines. Bournemouth quickly became a destination for affluent holiday-makers and for invalids in search of the sea air.
In the 1860s, meadows either side of the Bourne stream were turned into the town's pleasure gardens. The immaculately tended gardens are still much-loved and the Central Gardens contain the town's impressive war memorial, guarded by four lions. A pier was built in 1861, to be replaced in 1880 by the present structure.
One of Bournemouth's most prominent Victorians, Sir Merton Russell-Cotes, successfully campaigned to have a promenade built. Sir Merton, who built the Bath Hotel, also donated his art collection to the town, while his wife donated their home, East Cliff Hall - now known as the Russell-Cotes Art Gallery and Museum which was recently completely refurbished with the help of National Lottery money.
The Bath Hotel, now known as the Royal Bath, has attracted many important visitors during the years, including Oscar Wilde, HG Wells, Richard Harris, Sir Thomas Beecham and prime ministers Disraeli, Gladstone, Asquith and Lloyd George. Royal guests have been Edward VII, Edward VIII, George VI, Queen Wilhemina of Sweden and Empress Eugenie of France. Also, in 1977 the grounds and hotel were used for the film Valentino, starring Rudolph Nureyev.