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Founded upon the idea of fun, relaxing holidays, and with one of the highest concentrations of hotels in the whole country

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Bournemouth Pier
St Peter's Church
Despite the fact that the county of Dorset has had human residents for thousands of years, its biggest settlement, the coastal town of Bournemouth, is only 200 years old.
At the turn of the 19th century, the area was still a barren heath land, and its coastline was only ever visited by smugglers and fishermen. It was only in 1812 that a man called Lewis Tregonwell moved here - and he changed everything. His plan was to build several seaside villas, which he could let out to holiday makers. Little did he know how successful his idea would become! All through the rest of the century, the place enjoyed a colossal period of growth. Bournemouth became a popular destination for the Victorians, built on a reputation for relaxing getaways, featuring sun, sand, and seawater, which was said to be good for your health. In fact, the town was so relaxing that it became a popular place for famous writers. Renowned authors such as Robert Louis Stephenson, Oscar Wilde, and J.R.R. Tolkien all came here for a little peace and quiet.

A statue of Lewis Tregonwell
Photo LordHarris
Bournemouth's star attraction is undoubtedly its beach. There's 7 miles of it, with some of the finest golden sand, and the clearest seawater in all of Britain. It's incredibly popular during the summer months - but don't worry, there's plenty of room. The beach has recently been widened, using imported sand from the Isle of Wight!

Bournemouth Beach
Photo Robert Courtman
Stretching out from the shore is Bournemouth pier, featuring arcades, shops, a funfair, and a dock, where visitors can book boat trips around the local waters. For people who prefer a little more excitement, Bournemouth's sea is usually full of speedboats and jet skis. Surfers, meanwhile, will be thrilled to hear that this is the site for Europe's first artificial reef, which uses environmentally-friendly materials placed just offshore, to help shape and increase the waves.

Bournemouth Pier
Photo Eugene Birchall
People who want a break from the beach will still find plenty to do. The town centre contains many shops, restaurants, and bars - although the place only really comes alive at night, when there are around 40 different nightclubs open, nearly every day!

The Avenue Shopping Centre
Photo Chris Downer
Another famous sight is St. Peter's church, which houses the remains of Frankenstein's author, Mary Shelley. Rumour has it that she was also buried with her husband's heart. The story goes that when he was cremated, one year before Shelley's death, his heart refused to burn in the flames. She plucked it from the ashes, and held on to it as a keepsake. It was discovered after she passed away - and placed in her hands, within the grave.

The tomb of Mary Shelley
Photo LordHarris
For those that would prefer to see something a little less creepy, there's still lots to choose from. Tourists can take their pick from museums, balloon flights, gardens, an aquarium, and countless spa resorts. In fact, the first ever spa resort here - which was called the Mont Dore hotel - is now used as Bournemouth's Town Hall. Back in the early 19th century though, it was the most prestigious venue around. Legend had it that the Mont Dore's in-house baths used a very rare kind of water, found only in the local area, which had miraculous healing powers!

Bournemouth Town Hall
Photo Graffity
Bournemouth was founded upon the idea of fun, relaxing holidays, and so it's no surprise that it has one of the highest concentrations of hotels in the whole country. It has been entertaining visitors for every moment of its 200-year life - can that amount of people really be wrong?
Visitor Information
Bournemouth Tourist Information Centre, Westover Road, Bournemouth, Dorset, BH1 2BU. Tel: 0845 051 1700

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