<a name=start></a> History of Boscombe continued



Boscombe Reaches Maturity

During the decade from 1881 to 1891 Boscombe had grown apace, the population increasing from 1,895 to 6,324. By the commencement of the 1890's the sections of Boscombe had merged, and the whole had been incorporated into the newly created Borough of Bournemouth. Even so, Boscombe was aware of its own identity and personality, and was prepared to claim equality of consideration.

From time to time dissatisfaction was expressed in Boscombe that there was not a railway station nearer than Pokesdown, by 1895 the Company at last agreed in principle to provide a station, which opened on 29th May 1897.

In the planned development of the Shelly Estate drawn up in 1888, the equivalent of two plots had been reserved in Florence Road for a future church, and Lady Shelly donated the land. A temporary building dedicated to St.Andrew was opened in December 1890, and was a chapel ease to St.James' Church in Pokesdown. The present St.Andrew's Church was completed in 1908.

On 8th May 1890 there was a large sale of 48 sites of the Shelly Land in Hawkwood, Westby and Florence Roads. Several of the roads on the Shelly Estate were given names associated with the family. Percy, Florence and Wollstoncraft were directly related to Sir Percy; Hawkwood and Michelgrove recalled the Shelly family of the 16th century; Heathcote had been the former owner of the estate, whilst Watkin and Grantley were family friends.

By 1891 the Council had decided to establish a new cemetery at Boscombe, and the Bournemouth East Cemetery Act 1891 empowered them to purchase 26 acres of land. A further strip of 12 acres was purchased immediately north of the railway between Ashley Road and Gloucester Road. This latter land was used to provide an approach road, usually known as Cemetery Drive, to lead from Ashley Road to the gates of the Cemetery.

With the growth of the whole district, the police force expanded, and in 1894 a police station was opened in Gloucester Road. This building continued in use until about 1980, when it was demolished and replaced by the new one.

Opposite the Arcade, the Bank block was erected next to a small block of five shops, completed in 1896. Gradually on both sides of the Christchurch Road towards Ashley Road the villas were replaced by shops; infact several villas remained with the ground floor replaced by a shop front.

Towards the end of 1891 Sir Henry Drummond Wolff sold the lease of Boscombe Towers to a syndicate, who proposed to build a large and prestigious hotel.. By 1892 tenders for the new Burlington Hotel had been obtained .

The Burlington Hotel was designed in an Italian Renaissance style, and the accommodation included about 200 bedrooms, with thirteen suites of private rooms and two lifts. A spacious ballroom was built and a billiards saloon. The Hotel was opened with a lavish function on 19th August 1893, when lunch was provided and followed by a garden party at which the Royal Hungarian Band entertained guests, of whom about a hundred and fifty had been brought from London.

Two important sales took place in 1895. On 27th November the final section of Boscombe Spa Estate was sold, consisting of 26 sites in Dell Road, Undercliff Road and Boscombe Spa Road. Two weeks later some of the last sites in Boscombe Manor were for sale, including plots in Percy Road, Michelgrove Road and Sydney Road (now Boscombe Cliff Road).

Lady Shelley died in June 1899, and the Boscombe Estate was inherited by Captain Robert Shelley Scarlett, the son of Bessie Florence Scarlett, the adopted daughter of the Shelleys. Robert had been born at Boscombe Manor on 1st April 1872; in 1903 he inherited the Scarlett family barony under the title of Lord Abinger. Lord and Lady Abinger lived at Boscombe Manor for several years.

Before her death Lady Shelley had arranged for the gift of some four acres of the cliff frontage to the town, and the Council bought an adjoining two acres , together these were laid out to form the Boscombe Cliff Gardens. At a formal ceremony on 6th June 1900, Robert Scarlett handed over the gardens to the Mayor.

 Cliff Gardens
Part of Boscombe Cliff Gardens (present day)

In a brief span of about 35 years. Boscombe had grown from a few cottages with a handful of people to an established seaside resort with a population in the 1901 census of 9,648. Although Boscombe was fully absorbed into the area of the Bournemouth Improvement Commissioners in 1884, it had become a separate Ward when the Borough was incorporated in1890, it was well aware of its own separate identity. Boscombe had developed not only as a residential district of Bournemouth, but also as a seaside holiday resort in itself, able to offer facilities equal to, or even better than, those of some other resorts.

By 1900 practically all the available land had been developed; the Chine gardens had in the first instance been leased, and later bought outright by the Council; Lady Shelley had given the cliff gardens, and the Crescent gardens were being acquired.

There were churches and chapels offering opportunity for all to worship, and through which were social and charitable activities. Boscombe had imposing hotels and numerous guest houses; there was its own pier, the theatre, the Royal Arcade with its concerts and shops, and a band. there were cultural societies, schools, facilities for adult education, social clubs, sports clubs, a library reading room and political societies. Boscombe had reached maturity.

The New Fountain in the New Shopping Centre

J A Young has written a series of publications about the area, including:
  • Boscombe - A Victorian Heritage

  • A History of Pokesdown

  • Winton and Moordown 1894-1901

  • The Story of Southbourne

  • Main Line to Bournemouth

  • The Ringwood, Christchurch and Bournemouth Railway

  • ©M E Smith 2010