|Area: 46.18 km²|
Bournemouth is a large resort town on the south coast of England. It is located about 105 miles southwest of London, at 50.72° N 1.88° W. The town adjoins Poole in the west and Christchurch in the east, and overlooks Poole Bay. The Isle of Wight is visible from some vantage points.
Bournemouth is a major English Language centre in the United Kingdom and attracts many thousands of foreign students to the town every year. Bournemouth has numerous English language schools.
The town is an important venue for major conferences and the Bournemouth International Centre (BIC), which stands on the cliff-tops near the middle of the town overlooking the sea and the pier, is the town's main venue for large conferences including in 2003 the Labour Party annual conference, and in 2006 the Conservative Party conference.
On September 15, 1980 Bournemouth was one of the first areas outside a major city to get its own independent radio station. 2CR FM broadcasts from near Bournemouth train station and its name is derived from the fact that its broadcast area includes parts of the counties of Dorset and Hampshire.
Bournemouth (and Poole, the town immediately to the west) have several chines (e.g. Branksome Chine, Alum Chine) that lead down to the beaches and form a very attractive feature of the area. Bournemouth Central Gardens are a separate major public park, leading for several miles down the valley of the River Bourne through the centre of the town to the sea (reaching the sea at the pier).
The Russell-Cotes Museum is located just to the east of the Central Gardens near to the Pavilion and next to the Royal Bath hotel. The museum includes many fine mostly 19th century paintings and the family collections acquired when travelling e.g in Japan and Russia. It was Sir Merton Russell Cotes, one of Bournemouth's most prominent Victorians, who successfully campaigned to have a promenade built; the promenade now runs continuously along the Bournemouth and Poole shoreline.
The Royal Bath Hotel, located near the sea and just to the east of the Central Gardens, has attracted many important visitors over the years, including Oscar Wilde, H. G. Wells, Richard Harris, Sir Thomas Beecham, Shirley Bassey, and prime ministers Lord Beaconsfield (who stayed for three months to help his gout), Gladstone, Asquith and Lloyd George. Royal guests have been Edward VII and Edward VIII when each was the Prince of Wales, George VI when he was the Duke of York, Queen Wilhemina of the Netherlands and Empress Eugenie of France.
A new £9.5 million Bournemouth Library was completed in 2003, winning the Prime Minister's Better Public Building Award, in the British Construction Industry Awards competition in recognition of its relatively low cost and high fit with client requirements.
In recent years the town has attracted a high number of jobs in financial services, with JP Morgan Chase, Abbey Life and Portman Building Society all opening major offices. JP Morgan Chase has a large campus style office on the outskirts of the town in the Littledown area supplemented by further offices in the town centre, and employs over 4,000 people in the town. The financial sector is in fact the biggest source of income for Bournemouth, although a general misbelief is that the tourism sector is responsible for this.
The Town also plays host to a professional football club, AFC Bournemouth, currently playing in League One. They play at The Fitness First Stadium near Boscombe in Kings' Park, about two miles east of the Town Centre.
Talks into Bournemouth, Poole and Christchurch merging (to be called Wessex) are to begin between local government, as they periodically do. Such moves would make what is already one of the UK's most populous settlements a united area politically