The Village Grows Up


The Village Grows Up

Before dealing with two major Estates of the 1890s, it may be convenient to make mention of other matters which had been taking place.

An advertisement of July 1882 gives some indication of the housing in part of the village. This was headed Cobden Road, Pokesdown, and the details were 'A pair of semi-detached leasehold villas, recently erected: within half a mile of Southbourne, a rapidly increasing and favourite suburb of Bournemouth and near the health invigorating woods. Each house contains entrance hall, large sitting room with bay window and marble mantelpiece, four bedrooms and dressing room, kitchen with range, scullery with fireplace and furnace, together with large garden. The property is on residue of a 99 years' lease from 25th March 1880 at an annual ground rent of £5. 10s.'

Early in 1883 a Pokesdown Improvement Committee was formed 'to seek out and see carried into effect plans and schemes which would improve the village and its neighbourhood'. One such work was improvement of the pathway leading to the sea-shore.

This path became the subject of a public meeting held at the Parish Schoolroom on 25th February 1886, by which date the path made in 1883 had been washed away. The owners of the land adjoining the path, the Hon. W. Ponman and Mr. C. Hunter, each offered to provide as much land as necessary to construct a road, and Mr. Gallon estimated that a sloping road from the trees on the cliffs to the shore might cost over £700. The meeting resolved that the offers of land be accepted; no action seems to have resulted, and in October 1887 there was a report in the local press, which noted that very little had been done regarding the road down the cliffs.

Continuing, the report commented that in view of the tremendous progress which the village was making in population and the erection of houses, it was a pity that the approach to the beach should be no better than the old 'fisherman's highway' which had existing in times past, and was not in best condition. It was only the unaided efforts of a local resident, Mr. Hunt that had kept the path in something like decent condition.

It was not until the summer of 1890 that the problem was tackled when the narrow side footpath and the deep cutting of shifting sand which had hitherto been used by the inhabitants of Pokesdown as the means of access to and from the beach was replaced by wooden steps. Lord Portman had generously given £25 towards the cost, and the rest of the money, about £30, had been raised by subscription.

An improvement to the main road at the top of Pokesdown Hill, near the drive leading to St. James' Church, was effected by the Christchurch Highway Board in the summer of 1887. The steepness of the gradient was eased by cutting a new piece of roadway, which was brought into use in July; the gravel excavated to make the new road was used for road repairs.

One of the means used by temperance societies to offer some positive alternative to public houses was the founding of coffee houses, and a coffee house was opened in Christchurch Road, almost opposite the station entrance on 26 February 1887. Built by Mr. F. Walden of Bournemouth, the house was managed by Mr. Burcham, verger of St. James' Church, the Chairman of the committee being the Vicar.

1883 saw more building work, but is of particular interest since this is the date of the earliest known extant house plan for the area. The plan was for a house in Darracott Road. This was a compact two storey cottage, built for Mr Wilcox, to plans of architect James G. Hogg from Bournemouth. Some of the traditional room uses are evident on the plan. On the ground floor there was a sitting room, a kitchen, a scullery, with coal store and W.C. and vestibule. The sitting room is a variation of the parlour, a room kept apart from the utilitarian part of the house, in which the concept of family life could be refined and showed off at its best to visitors. The vestibule was originally a passageway separated from the parlour or sitting room, so that the household refuse of all kinds could be manoeuvred around the house without passing through the 'show' room.

The existence of a W.C. (linked to a cesspool in the rear garden) had by now reduced the urgent need for a vestibule, but it remained part of most house plans as it was coming to be associated with the rooms in much larger houses, such as those nearer to Bournemouth on the Cooper-Dean estates, which were being called halls. As with the term 'park', 'hall' had once had a precise meaning as a particular type of structure which would house a large group of people, but the name was trivialised in order to bring aggrandisement to spaces, often full of clutter, which gave access to the main rooms of the house.

The kitchen in 1883 would have been used differently from a modern kitchen, for it would have combined some of the functions of a kitchen with some of those of a dining room, and was more normally called a living room. There was a fireplace where food could be heated and room for the family to eat. When the scullery became the kitchen, the living room became the dining room. It was not until the appearance of the radio and the television that diners were lured into the parlour to eat. The other functions of the kitchen of today, storage of food and as a place of washing, were confined to the scullery. The first floor plan of the 1883 house was used for bedrooms except for one store room. There was no upstairs bathroom.

Before 1870 very few houses possessed bathrooms. Though the Victorians recognised the necessity of cleanliness, they entertained a suspicion of hot water, which they continued to feel was bad for invalids, even when the healthy had come to accept it. The Public Health Act which was largely prompted by the fears of disease spreading as a result of poor sanitation came at a time when attitudes were changing and both made people change their attitudes to household bathing and made such facilities an accepted part of the house layout. The Victorian sensibilities ensured however that even when the bathroom had come to stay, the lady of the house would confine her ablutions to the privacy of her bedroom.

There were technological difficulties to overcome, but once the method of circulating hot water through the home had been perfected, bathrooms as a separate part of the house became a vital symbol of status in the new middle class houses from 1870 on. Condensation was also a problem. For the w.c. there were the dual problems of water supply to flush the basin, and a drainage system to dispose of the effluent. Some towns employed euphemistically named 'dust' men to take the waste away. Whilst the rich men had servants to deal with such matters, the new middle classes, who were demanding comforts they could afford, were turning to house and street designs that included flushing w.c.s and provided drainage.

One of the main problems of the w.c. was the smell that was produced and funnelled into the house via the water channel. The answer to this problem was to trap water in the pan, either in a 'U' bend, or by having a flap at the bottom of the pan that closed when the waste had been flushed past it. As a rather ineffectual double precaution a lid was fixed over the toilet seat, to be closed when not in use. The present day standard was not reached until about the 1890's.

Plans survive from 1884 for a cottage in Hampden Road near the Independent Congregational Chapel. The house design was very similar to the last described. On the ground floor there was a parlour, a living room and a scullery. There was a single storey room at the back of the house for the w.c. and the storage of fuel, these two plans show the inter-changeability of the terms parlour and sitting room and kitchen and living room. There is an internal chimney between the living room and the scullery. The first floor is of a similar design with three bedrooms and a store room. This house, also described as a cottage on the original plans, had more external decoration. The front of the house had a gable and a ground floor bay window. It was built by Messrs. Hoare Brothers and Walden.

1885 supplies another house plan for Darracott Road adjacent to the Wesleyan chapel. Built for Mr. T. Freak and described as a detached house, it contained two parlours in addition to the kitchen and scullery. The first floor had four generous sized bedrooms and also included a W.C.; however, despite the spaciousness of the house, a bathroom was still not included.

The Extent of Bournemouth's Growth by 1883

In 1883 Henry A. Garrett, assistant surveyor to the Bournemouth Commissioners, had prepared a plan of the town, which showed how far development in the surrounding areas had progressed. To the north of the town centre development had occurred to the west of Wimborne Road, and to the east on the Dean Park Estate of Mr. Cooper Dean, where the built up area reached Dean Park Road and Heathpoult, later St. Paul's, Road.

The development of the rest of the land around Lansdowne Road was already planned out. Further east, most of Sir George Gervis' East Cliff Estate reaching to Boscombe Chine was already covered with mansions. There were just as few vacant plots in Knyveton Road. The Springbourne Estate was now fully developed; however, the plots of land were to be continually sub-divided in subsequent years to allow a far higher density of housing than had originally been envisaged. To the north of Holdcnhurst Road the map shows just seven houses had been built there at this time.

North of Christchurch Road at Boscombe Chine the Hegistboume Estate, between Knole Road and Drummond Road was progressing. Adjacent to this the Verno Estate around Carysfort Road was in the process of being planned out. South of Christchurch Road here, was the Boscombe Spa Estate. A number of the roads had been formed here, but much of the building land was at this time empty.

The boundary of the Bournemouth Commissioners District followed the line of Sea Road, then called Shelley Lane. North east of here the Boscombe Estate extended either side of Ashley Road, along Christchurch Road, and to the north of this Tower Road was built up and developed. The Commissioners' boundary followed Ashley Road and here the map ends, but it is not difficult to describe the rest of the land between here and Pokesdown. The land east of Shelley Lane was undeveloped apart from three houses in Christchurch Road (the start of a new building estate) until Parkwood Road. There the Boscombe Park Estate was beginning to fill up the land to the south of Christchurch Road.

The Boscombe Park Estate linked with Pokesdown via Darracott Road, the land here being more densely developed. To the north of Christchurch Road Fremantle existed as an isolated outbreak of suburbia, divided by open land from Portman Road to Boscombe, and surrounded to the north and east by many hundreds of acres of land as yet unaffected by the house building boom. In 1884 the Commissioners were to extend their boundaries from Sea Road/Ashley Road to Crabton Close Road/Wickham Road. The boundary did not move again until Bournemouth absorbed Pokesdown.

The local celebrations in connection with the Golden Jubilee of Queen Victoria were held on Monday 20th June 1887. At 2.30 in the afternoon a procession of some two hundred and twenty children, headed by the Boscombe Band and carrying flags and banners, set out from the Parish School. They were joined in Cromwell Road by about a hundred children from the Chapel School, and all marched to the grounds of Stourwood House, made available by Captain and Mrs. Lamb. Assembled there were the families of the soldiers at Christchurch Barracks; games and tea occupied the time until 8 o'clock. On leaving, each child was handed a medal by Mrs. Lamb, the cost of which was met by the Vicar and Mr. Moser. A present of tea was made later to old members of the parish.

When the Christchurch Highway Board met on 30 January 1888 they received a request from Messrs. Miles and Pinder on behalf of two Land Societies, asking the Board to take over Parkwood Road. It was pointed out that many houses already existed along the road, that it formed the main road from Bournemouth to Southbourne, and was in considerable use by the public. The Board agreed to take over the road, but for some reason this was not done. The proposal was again raised in 1890, this time at a Vestry meeting held at Christchurch on 23 May, when a formal proposal was agreed.

"To take into consideration the desirability of undertaking the repair and maintenance of a certain driftway within the highway parish of Tuckton and Wick in the parish of Christchurch known as Parkwood Road, in return for use thereof: and for the purpose of requesting the District Surveyor of Highways of the above named district to apply to the Justices in Petty Sessions to declare such driftway or road to be a public highway to be repaired at the expense of the above named Highway Board".

The Chairman, Captain Lamb, referred to the fact that the road in question was a short cut from Christchurch to Bournemouth by way of the back of Pokesdown. Dr. Compton moved a formal resolution in favour of handing over the road, which would be of great advantage to all concerned in the welfare of the parish. Mr. Moser seconded. The proposal was carried. The owners of the road were the Boscombe and Bournemouth Land Societies, who were willing to put it into proper repair. The Justices approved the request, and after various formalities Parkwood Road became a highway repairable by the public.

Two major estates came into the market in the early years of the 1890s; these were the Stourfield and the Stourwood Estates. It will be convenient to deal with these two estates separately, commencing with the larger of the two, the Stourfield. It will be recalled that the Estate had been established by Edmund Bott in the 1760s, when he built the House, bought laud and also enclosed some pieces of land to include in the estate. On his death the estate was put up for sale and was bought by Sir George Tapps of Hinton Admiral. He and his successors leased the house to a succession of tenants, and finally in 1844 it was sold. The purchaser was Admiral William Popham. The Popham family held the estate until 1893, when it was put up for sale.

At the time of the sale the estate was still large, bounded by Southbourne Road, Sunnyhill Road, down Stourvale Road to Cranleigh Road. The boundary ran just beyond Cranleigh Road and turned up between Irving and Watcombe Roads back to Southbourne Road. There was a detached area between Southbourne Road and Southbourne Grove called New Park.

A small area of about twenty acres consisting of twenty three building lots was sold by auction on 1st August 1890. These lots fronted on Southbourne Road, Hampden Lane and Sandy Lane.

The self contained New Park was next. In September 1892 this was advertised for sale. It amounted to fifteen acres of land, opposite Stourfield House much of it was planted with pine, oak, larch, spruce and birch trees. A preliminary notice was issued a month later, in October 1892, announcing the forthcoming sale of the whole estate in two separate lots.

One of these was some one hundred and forty acres of land, suitable for building development; of this ninety acres were arable and the remaining fifty acres were described as beautifully wooded. As part of the development of this land, Pokesdown Lane was widened, and was renamed Stourvale Road. It was stated that the estate would be served by good and well graded roads in every direction. Gas and water mains as extensions of those running past the estate would be laid as required. The other lot was the family residence of Stourfield House and its immediate grounds. Some details of the accommodation of the house have already been given in a previous chapter. For the sale, the grounds consisted of about ten acres of land with lawns, shrubberies, gardens and beautiful trees. The rest of the grounds were in a natural state with shady pathways between the trees. The part of the estate to be sold for building sites was situated to the north side of the house and had been laid out "with great judgement and taste". It was suggested that the property might be suitable for a school or perhaps a hotel.

Separately from the house there was a small farm with nine acres of land and this was available for purchase as a lot on its own.

The estate was bought by a syndicate for development, and over a period of years it was laid out in nine hundred and forty building lots. The development of these was phased over a considerable number of years, some not being built on until the mid 1920s. An initial block of one hundred and twenty four plots was the subject of a ballot held at the Salisbury Hotel in Boscombe on the evening of 1st March 1893.

This meeting started at 7 p.m. with a well served supper taken by about two hundred guests. At the ballot one hundred and two of the plots were taken.

Turning now to Stourfield House, this was in fact initially taken for a school which was announced to be a day and boarding grammar school for boys under the headship of Mr. J. N. McRae. In the notice it was said that the school was situated in its own grounds, surrounded by pine and cedar tees, said to be the finest in the neighbourhood. It claimed that the sheltered situation rendered the school particularly suitable for delicate boys. The claim was also made that the domestic arrangements for boarders were to be those of a private family. The school opened in September 1894 and remained for two years, removing in 1896 to new premises at the comer of Southbourne Road and Stourwood Avenue.

In September 1896 an application was made by Mr. H. Legge of Boscombe to the Licensing Justices for a licence for the premises, which was to become the Wellington Hotel, and this was granted.

A guide book of Christchurch, Southbourne and District published in 1898 stated that the Wellington Hotel was in the course of erection and was expected to be opened early in 1899. Originally it had been proposed to demolish Stourfield House, but it had been found to be very well built, and instead it was adapted, and a considerable extension added. The guide book mentioned that there were to be about one hundred rooms in the hotel, which would be lighted by electricity and have every modem improvement.

For some reason the proposed hotel was never opened. Instead, Mr. Corbin Harris and several other gentlemen formed the Stourfield Park Company Limited in August 1899, with a capital of £25,000, and eighteen thousand shares of £1 each were on offer to the public. The purpose of the Company was to establish a high class sanatorium for the open air treatment and care of consumption and other lung diseases. The Directors of the Company were Dr. J. Hosker, Mr. W. Gibson, Mr. Corbin Harris and Dr. W. D. Johns, who was the Medical Superintendent of the Sanatorium.

As finally rebuilt, there were one hundred and ten rooms of which sixty five were bedrooms, and the Sanatorium was intended to accommodate up to sixty patients. The Company took over the furniture and goodwill of a sanatorium which had previously been conducted by Dr. Johns near Meyrick Park. In the detailed particulars of the establishment, the Company stated that the site was within half a mile of the sea shore, with plantations between the building and the sea. It was stated to be sheltered from the wind by the plantations in front, and by belts of fir trees on the other three sides. The ground around the house was well laid out in a park-like fashion, and the premises commanded an extensive view of the surrounding country.

The Home Sanatorium existed for almost twenty five years, and was closed in April 1923. Acquired by the Royal British Legion, and renamed Douglas House, it became an annexe to Preston Hall in the British Legion Village at Aylesford, in Kent. Preston Hall was then a sanatorium for ex-servicemen, and Douglas House was used as an overflow accommodation. It remained in the hands of the Legion until taken over by the National Health Service in 1948. The hospital was closed in 1989 and the building demolished in 1990.

The second estate to come on the market at that time was Stourwood, amounting to about thirty three acres, situated between Fisherman's Walk and Clifton Road, and bounded on the landward side by what is now Southbourne Grove, Southboume Road and Belle Vue Road.

Stourwood House had been the home of Captain Lamb and his family for some twenty years, and the estate was put up for sale in 1893, when the family moved to the Newbury district. Excluding the house and its grounds, the estate was advertised in April 1894 as 'a charming property being laid out in building plots of liberal dimensions, with new roadways from Southboume Road to the cliff. It was proposed that many of the existing trees were to remain, although much of the fir plantation was cut down. Messrs. Doncaster and Taylor, of Boscombe, architects and surveyors, were responsible for the general layout of the estate. It was arranged for Fisherman's Walk. The planning included the provision of sewerage, which was to be connected with the sewerage system in Southboume, and for water to be laid on by the Bournemouth Gas and Water Company. By November 1895 a hotel had been built on the estate and six large houses and a school were being built.

In February 1898 Stourwood House and its grounds, then having a frontage of one hundred feet on Southboume Road, and a carriage drive leading to the house, was again for sale. The house still stands, in Stourwood Avenue. Development of the Estate continued over a period of about fifteen years, much of it with Stourwood Avenue as its axis.