Opinion: Welcome to Bournemouth – eventually

Photo by https://www.flickr.com/photos/artimagesmarkcummins/ Bournemouth Summers Eve'At last our party will have a proper seaside conference again in 2015. Bournemouth is the ideal spot for it.

The town has a remarkable story; from almost nil population in the present town centre area in 1810 it has grown to 180,000 today. It first developed as a place where the wealthy came to spend the winter.

Some would say that the rot set in with the arrival of the railway in 1870. The original Southampton to Dorchester line ran on a more inland route so it was harder for the masses to travel to the town. The expansion of the holiday resort could then proceed. The Council was so concerned with the influx of visitors that in 1891 it resolved to write to the London & South Western Railway asking that there should be no cheap day excursions to Bournemouth after 31 July each year to help preserve the peace for longer stay residents; the company refused the request..

Bournemouth then became the town we know now, a quality holiday resort. From the 1950s the coming of  cheap air travel posed a threat to the prosperity of the town but the development of the conference centre, the development of schools teaching English to  foreign learners and now two universities – Bournemouth University and Arts University Bournemouth – have revitalised the local economy.

The arrival of many students at the universities and the language schools with their staff has helped to reduce the average age of the town’s population although tensions can arise with some people disliking the “night time economy”.

There is a variety of accommodation for conference goers. Some have interesting connections with past residents: the Langtry Manor was built for Lillie allegedly with finance from Edward VII as Prince of Wales; the Celebrity Hotel under earlier names was the childhood home of Tony Hancock;  the Miramar was the holiday choice of J R R Tolkien.

Some representatives may wish to visit the tomb of Mary Shelley in St Peter’s Churchyard in the town centre which also contains the heart of her husband Percy Bysshe Shelley and the remains transferred from London of her parents Mary Wollstonecroft and William Godwin.

William Gladstone visited Bournemouth in 1898 and for the last time in his life took communion in a church, St Peter’s – his pew is marked by a brass plate. On leaving from the railway station he addressed the crowd: “God bless you and this place and the land you love”. The crowd responded “God bless you sir!” That’s the way to treat a Liberal Leader.


Photo by www.ruffrootcreative.com

* Lawrence Fullick is a past chair of Bournemouth West Lib Dems and the Lib Dem European Group and has been a party member since 1962.

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  • Lorna Dupré 14th Jul '14 - 9:04am

    Must find time to visit the Russell Cotes museum this time!

  • Bournemouth is a really good conference town, and my favourite of the coastal resorts.

    I just wish it was easier to get to, or at least that CrossCountry didn’t have such insane prices. You can get from Manchester to Bournemouth faster and cheaper by changing in London than by the direct train. How does that make sense?

  • Dates? Venue? Would be useful.

  • Paul in Wokingham 15th Jul '14 - 9:20am

    Back to Bournemouth, eh? An implausible, genteel venue for the auto da fe that will proceed May’s electoral debacle. But definitely one of my favourite conference locations. The hills help work off the calories from the fringe buffets.

  • peter tyzack 15th Jul '14 - 11:50am

    Agreed.. preferable to Brighton by far.. but on every visit to Bournemouth have had unsatisfactory hotels, seemingly low standards of cleanliness. It seems that the council of 1891 was right, where the night-time economy grows, with the stag/hen parties, the hotel standards drop because they can get away with it. We should give them this one chance and unless they can improve, boycott.
    Lets see if Glasgow can show them how its done.

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