Glimpse history through old images of Bournemouth, Dorset, England.
Just over a hundred years ago, the large seaside resort of Bournemouth in Dorset was a tiny seaside community in Hampshire. Since then it has seen a population boom, an expansion of its boundaries, war defences on its beaches and then the 1974 transfer to a different county.
Old Photos of Bournemouth
Bournemouth in the 1920s
In 1920, just two years after the end of the Great War, later known as World War I, Earl Beatty and Earl Haig received the Freedom of the Borough.
Lots of people arrived to see these wartime generals, who spoke to several local war veterans.
Beaty and Lord Haig at Bournemouth (1920) – British Pathé on YouTube
Pigeon racing used to be big business. In this footage from 1920, hundreds of birds are released from cages at the railway station, having arrived by train.
A Pigeon Derby at Bournemouth (1920) – British Pathé on YouTube
Princess Helena Victoria made a visit in 1926.
Princess Helena Victoria at Bournemouth (1926)- British Pathé on YouTube
In 1927, the Prince of Wales attended 18 functions within 334 minutes.
A Royal Hustler (1927) – British Pathé on YouTube
In 1929, Bournemouth’s new £250,000 Pavilion was opened by the Duke of Gloucester.
ROYAL: Duke of Gloucester opens Bournemouth’s new Pavilion (1929) – British Pathé on YouTube
Duke Of Gloucester Opens Bournemouth Pavilion (1929) – British Pathé on YouTube
Bournemouth In The 1930s
In the 1930s Bournemouth was in the English county of Hampshire, and had recently experienced a massive boom in population from just 600 residents to a community of 130,000 people.
In 1930, the Bournemouth Hospital Fete was opened by Amy Johnson and Marjorie Foster.
In Aid Of Charity (1930)- British Pathé on YouTube
In 1931, Bournemouth’s boundary was moved, doubling its size. Footage recorded the Mayor, Percy May Bright, walking in procession with a number of dignitaries before ceremonially cutting the boundary tape. Then he lays a ceremonial stone marking the extension of the town’s boundary.
“Bigger Bournemouth! Aka Bigger Bourne Mouth (1931)” – British Pathé on YouTube
Bournemouth’s indoor bowling green was opened in 1937 by the Mayor.
Bowls Under Cover (1937) – British Pathé on YouTube
Then in 1939, the year World War II began, British Pathé 1939 travelogue item about the famous South coast holiday resort.
Various shots compare old photographs of Bournemouth’s beach, cliffs and town in the 1870s, when there were only 600 local residents, to the same views in 1939 when Bournemouth was home to 130,000 people.
Also seen are tourists relaxing on the promenade, people paddling in sea, and the public gardens, including the Bourne Stream. A performance of the Bournemouth Municipal Orchestra closes the film.
“Bournemouth Issue Title How’s That? (1939)” – British Pathé on YouTube
Also recorded at some point in the 1930s was footage of the railway station and the ‘Bournemouth belle’ train, the village, and the crowded beach.
Bournemouth – All Seasons! (1930-1939) – British Pathé on YouTube
War And Peace In The 1940s
War time defences on Bournemouth Beach were filmed by British Pathé in 1944. Anti-tank defences and barbed wire dominate the seafront, although people are still enjoying time on the beach thanks to Garrison Commander’s order of 25th July 1944 allowing access. People contentedly relax in deckchairs while families laugh as they play in the sand.
“Bournemouth Beach (1944)” – British Pathé on YouTube
The Labour Party Conference in 1946 brought Clement Atlee’s cabinet members to town.
Cabinet Goes To The Seaside (1946)- British Pathé on YouTube
British Pathé recorded girls playing the new game of sea cricket, invented by local councillor Joe Beavis. We see the crowded beaches of 1940s Bournemouth,with many spectators watching from the pier.
“Sea Cricket (1949)”- British Pathé on YouTube
Bournemouth In The 1950s
The movers and shakers of the British film and cinema industry arrived at the Royal Bath Hotel for their conference in 1951.
Film Chiefs In Conference (1951) – British Pathé on YouTube
Cea Members Get Together (1951) – British Pathé on YouTube
Beauty competitions and swimsuit models were a common feature of seaside communities for many decades of the 20th century.
Bournemouth Swimsuits (1951) – British Pathé on YouTube
The Conservative Party Conference in 1955 meant lots of politicians arrived in town.
Bournemouth – Conservatives In Conference (1955)- British Pathé on YouTube
UNITED KINGDOM: Bournemouth Conservative Conference (1955) – British Pathé on YouTube
Alban Adams of Boscombe was a designer and builder of miniature racing cars. He was filmed in 1956, along with Christopher Crockett.
Model Racing Cars Aka Indoor Car Racing Beware – Other Colour Pics Share This Title (1956) – British Pathé on YouTube
The British movie and cinema industry Conference returned in 1958
Cea Conference Assembles (1958)- British Pathé on YouTube
Bournemouth In The 1960s
The winter weather in 1962 gave the beach and promenade a good bashing with rough seas.
Winter Blows Hardest Yet (1962) – British Pathé on YouTube
In 1964, some of the area’s young people were filmed taking part in a chairty soapbox race, using homemade vehicles.
Soapbox Race For Charity (1964) – British Pathé on YouTube
A resident of Southbourne created a shell grotto in his garden.
Shell Garden, Bournemouth (1965) – British Pathé on YouTube
A short 1969 clip of Bournemouth Beach between the piers shows the crowded beach, the coastline as far as Hengistbury Head in the distance, Bournemouth Pier, the cliffs and the East Cliff Lift.
“Bournemouth Beach Summer 1969” – Burl Solomons on YouTube
Bounremouth in the 1970s
On 1 April 1974, Bournemouth was officially moved from the South East regional county of Hampshire to the South West county of Dorset.
First broadcast on 21st January 1974, this ThamesTv footage captured the beaches and parks packed with holiday makers and day trippers.
“Bournemouth – Dorset Coast – England – 1974” – ThamesTv on YouTube
People voiced their opinions about the town in 1974.
1970s Bournemouth | What do you think of Bournemouth | Wish you were here? | 1974 – ThamesTv on YouTube
Bournemouth In The 1980s
In 1980, Martin Bean’s dad Rod recorded a drive through Bournemouth, including Charminster, Boscombe & Southbourne, on an early home video camera.
“Bournemouth drive 1980” – Martin Bean on YouTube
First broadcast on 9th January 1984, the popular TV series ‘Wish You Were Here?’ showed what the seaside town had on offer to holidaymakers.
Bournemouth – Dorset – 1983 – ThamesTv on YouTube
Bournemouth in the 1990s
Home movie footage recorded a family holiday to Bournemouth in 1994.
“Bournemouth Holiday 1994” – Martin Edwards on YouTube
More about Dorset
Back To Dorset page
Back to Local History Videos Home page