BOURNEMOUTH

Bournemouth has a financial sector and a new university, and the western suburb is full of grand villas and lovely pine-clad cliffs, which they call ‘chines’. (As a child on family holidays I thought that a ‘chine’ was a pine-clad cliff: it’s not, it’s a ridge and the pines are incidental.) The gardens, running right through the town from top to bottom like lettering in a stick of rock, upon which the town was founded when they were made out of the swampy fringes of the River Bourne two hundred years ago, are still beautiful and relaxing.

But the town centre, which is a BID, a Business Improvement District, with helpful BID guides, has a sad, hollowed-out look about it. There are marks of former grandeur in self-confident, ambitious and sometimes pompous buildings, several in the Deco style like the former offices of the Bournemouth Daily Echo. The purpose of others, like the Cosy Club, is still labelled. The former use of others, however, is impossible to find out from the buildings themselves.

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