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Bournemouth streets alive with history

Image of old Bournemouth from the Day Collection of photographs.

Unique online museum goes live in celebration of Bournemouth's bicentenary.

The history of Bournemouth’s development is just a click away thanks to a new website tracing the town’s history.

The Streets of Bournemouth website, the result of a partnership between Bournemouth University and Bournemouth Borough Council, goes live to the general public on Saturday, 25th September. Significantly, this is the same date that in 1810 Lewis Tregonwell signed papers to purchase 8.5 acres for the sum of £179.55 to build Exeter House, the first house in Bournemouth.

The site forms a central part of celebrations to mark the town’s bicentenary this year and was made possible thanks to a substantial award of £440,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

With just the click of a computer mouse, visitors to the Streets of Bournemouth website can see how their own areas developed by comparing layers of historical Bournemouth maps which have been digitised and are now available for the first time via the internet.

Visitors to the website can also call up associated images and information about Bournemouth’s people and buildings, its development as a health and seaside resort, and many other defining aspects of the town’s story.

“The Streets of Bournemouth will serve as a living history of the town and its people for many years to come,” said Project Leader David Ball, the University’s Head of Academic Development Services. “The project is a legacy to the history of Bournemouth thanks to the efforts of so many people from the University, the Borough Council and the community to whom we are truly grateful.”

The site also features photographs, information and personal memories of people associated with the town over many decades. One of the key ‘exhibits’ is a rare collection of glass photographic plates which depict Bournemouth between the 1860s and 1880s at the height of the town’s early development as a Victorian spa resort. Owned by Bournemouth Libraries, the photos are the work of father and son, Robert and W.J. Day, and feature original landscape negatives of old Bournemouth from a time when landscape photography was in its infancy.

Over the coming months, Bournemouth residents – past and present – will be able to add their own photos, collections, stories and memories. In addition, the University and the Council have developed and distributed a primary schools programme featuring online learning material and a physical resource box for teachers called ‘Bournemouth in a Box’.

Noted author and former Bournemouth resident, Bill Bryson, is Patron of the project and said: “Bournemouth has a rich and varied history and its preservation via the internet will make that history accessible to audiences around the world.”

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