The Bournemouth Highcliff Marriott Hotel has now stood proudly overlooking Bournemouth’s beautiful beaches for 140 years – but how did this popular seaside resort come about? How did it blossom into one of the top holiday destinations in Europe? What is the true history of Bournemouth?
A seaside town steeped in history
Before Bournemouth was a thriving holiday resort, it was known to the upper classes as an ideal place to escape for a little solitude. Up until 1810, there was nothing but wild heath land scattered with cattle in the space where the town now stands. A man named Lewis Tregonwell (otherwise known as the ‘Founder of Bournemouth’) visited the area in the early 19th century. When he showed his wife around, she loved it so much that she convinced him to buy some land there to build a mansion upon – along with cottages for their staff and friends. Their property stood alone, and so, they were the very first residents of what is now Dorset’s largest settlement.
In 1870, the railway stretched to this British seaside town, making it easier for the masses to reach it. As the popularity of taking a holiday by the sea grew during the Victorian era, so did Bournemouth itself. More developments started taking place in the town to facilitate change – plans for the Winter Gardens theatre were laid out and The Pleasure Gardens were put in place. These beautiful gardens, centred on the River Bourne, are still extremely well maintained until this day – in fact, they are Grade II listed!
As Bournemouth continued to grow, the once competing resorts of Westbourne, Boscombe Spa and Southbourne-on-Sea became encapsulated by it. More people made their way to the town, so lots of hotels began to spring up to cope with the demand – one of which was the Bournemouth Highcliff Marriott Hotel. Its location is as stunning as it ever was, with spectacular views that overlook seven miles of some of the most serene sandy beaches in the UK.
After Queen Victoria granted Bournemouth seaside resort Borough status in 1890, many improvements to the area started taking place. Thanks to the efforts of locals, hospitals, schools, libraries and houses were built, transforming a quiet seaside town into a vibrant community. Furthermore, a promenade roadway known as Undercliff Drive was built, the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra was established at the Winter Gardens and parks were laid out with drives and golf courses.
Many years later in 1920 (after much discussion), the Bournemouth Pavilion opened to much acclaim. The once peaceful settlement on the coast was now a fully-fledged seaside resort, filled with many hotels and other holiday attractions. Modern-day Bournemouth was born.
Visitors travelling to Bournemouth today can still expect a vibrant holiday retreat, however, Bournemouth holds a rare quality in that it is a bustling holiday hot spot that still holds a definite calm. Although the Bournemouth seafront and town centre are completely in tune with 21st century demands for entertainment, it is still possible to immerse yourself in Bournemouth’s history and explore times gone by. For a truly idyllic UK holiday experience, book yourself into a sea view room and sail back in time…