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Bournemouth & Poole

Voted Europe's best beach – and the fourth best in the world – in a major poll by Tripadvisor earlier this year, Bournemouth's seven miles of golden sands commanding superb views over the neighbouring Purbecks take some beating. Whilst the town hasn’t entirely shaken off its genteel, elderly image, it has in recent years reinvented itself as one of the buzziest nightlife hubs on the south coast; and with a plethora of language schools and a thriving university it has a younger feel than you’d expect. Neighbouring Poole is a more workaday port with a historic and bustling quay. Famous for its enormous natural harbour – the second largest in the world after Sydney – and exclusive properties along the Sandbanks peninsular, it shares the western extremities of Bournemouth’s beach.

History

Bournemouth is a largely Victorian resort, founded by Captain Lewis Tregonwell who built holiday villas on the open heathland that he owned along the coast. It quickly became known for its healthy climate, attracting a stream of wealthy holidaymakers and convalescing Victorians, including the likes of Robert Louis Stevenson, Charles Darwin and Benjamin Disraeli. By 1880 the current pier was built, followed in 1900 by the arrival of the railway, which established the town as a resort to rival Brighton.

Poole is a far older town, a historic port that has been used by fishermen and merchants for centuries. As a major port, the town was badly bombed during the Second World War and away from the historic quay and old town, much of the townscape is one of postwar tower blocks and estates. It is dominated, however, by its vast natural harbour, which today attracts holidaymakers and watersports enthusiasts in equal part.

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