Southbourne | Chineland
Monday 20th May 2024


Southbourne is a suburb of Bournemouth. It is the most easterly part of the Borough of Bournemouth, situated between Boscombe and Christchurch. The area was previously known as Stourfield. Strictly, Southbourne refers to the area near to the coast; areas further inland are West Southbourne, Tuckton and Wick.

Around 1766, Edmund Bott built a Georgian mansion to the east of Pokesdown village, commanding views of Christchurch Harbour; he named it Stourfield House. One of the most celebrated inhabitants of Stourfield House was Mary Eleanor Bowes, Countess of Strathmore and Kinghorne. Stourfield House later became a care home, looking after servicemen who had been injured in the Great War. Today only the front steps survive, leading to a block of flats in Douglas Mews; the steps are marked by a Blue Plaque. The original, extended building was demolished in 1990.

Southbourne also had a short-lived pier. It was constructed in 1888 at a cost of £4,000 and was 300 feet long. There were regular boat-trips between the pier at Southbourne and the pier at Bournemouth. Unfortunately the pier, promenade and nearby sea wall built by Dr. Compton (to rival the resort at Bournemouth) were heavily damaged by storms in December 1900 and January 1901. A buyer for the pier was unable to be found and it was eventually demolished in 1909 due to public safety concerns.

On 11 July 1910, Britain’s first international aviation meeting was held on a specially laid out aerodrome consisting of a mile of grassland between Tuckton and the “Double Dykes” near Hengistbury Head. Aviators from around the world competed in a variety of contests, including spot landing, altitude tests, and speed trials (both for the fastest and slowest circuit). Charles Stewart Rolls, co-founder of Rolls-Royce and pioneer aviator was killed on the second day of the meeting, while attempting a precision landing. The event was Britain’s earliest fatal flying accident involving a powered aircraft.

Southbourne today is a more relaxed, but still bustling locale for tourists keen to escape the busier areas of Bournemouth town centre, although the number of guest houses in the area has declined in recent years. The main area of Southbourne is Southbourne Grove, a long shopping street that has some unique and individual shops rather than high street chain shops. Another local centre is Southbourne Crossroads, which is further east towards Hengistbury Head. Seafield Gardens is a public open space which has, since 2001, won a Green Flag Award; it offers various outdoor facilities, including bowls and tennis. It also features a watertower. The easternmost part of the area is called Hengistbury Head now designated a nature reserve.

Southbourne’s primary attraction is its sandy Blue Flag beach, which provides a quieter retreat from the more crowded beach along the coast at Bournemouth. Between the cliff top coastal road and the promenade and beach is the Fisherman’s Walk Cliff Railway, a funicular railway that provides very easy access to Southbourne beach, and from where it is possible to reach the beaches at Boscombe and Bournemouth.

Courtesy Wikipedia
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