As described in the Christchurch Inclosure Act webpage, the1805 Award allocated five plots of land, totally 425 acres, to be held in trust for the commoners in order that they could continue to have the right to collect wood and turves. The plots were given to Sir George Tapps, who was the Lord of the Manor of Christchurch, in order to protect the commoners' rights. Plot number 62 lay between Talbot Woods and the town centre and became known as Poor’s Common. Its area was 126 acres, 2 roods and 16 poles (40 poles is one rood, 4 roods is one acre).
In 1883 Sir George Tapps' successor, Sir George Meyrick, donated Poor's Common to the Bournemouth Commissioners free of charge (although it had an estimated value of £100,000). The intent was that the land be used by the Corporation to create a park. In 1889, the Commissioners took the Bournemouth Park Lands Act to Parliament and when this came into effect it allowed them to buy out the commoners’ turbary rights (for £500) and authorised the land to be set aside as open spaces for the recreation and enjoyment of the public.
However, in 1884/85, the London and South Western Railway had built the line linking the East Station with the West Station through The Woods. It was originally intended that the line from the West Station would be extended by a mile eastwards into the centre of town where a central station would be built. The line through The Woods therefore was intended to link the line to London with the planned central Station. As part of the work the East Station was moved from the southern side of Holdenhurst Road to its current position on the northern side of the road. When the decision was taken in 1895 not to extend the line from the West Station, the new East Station was renamed as the Central Station.
The effect of the putting the line through Talbot Woods was to cut off a small part of Poor’s Common from the larger part south of the railway. This area north of the railway, approx 8.5 acres in size, was sold off by Bournemouth Commissioners as 32 plots for residential development. These plots are now used for houses on Wimborne Road, Meyrick Park Crescent and Dunbar Road. The original plan of the plots, with details of some of the initial purchasers is kept in the local history section of Bournemouth Central Library. The sale of the building plots raised £7,385 of the £13,000 that was needed to create the park and golf course.
F.W.Lacey planned the park on the land south of the railway and Tom Dunn was employed to lay out the 18 hole golf course using 60 acres of the park; the course was the first municipally planned golf links in the country. The diagram below shows the layout of the course as it was in the early years.
The park was named Meyrick Park in honour of Sir George, and was opened in 1894 by his daughter in law, Mrs George Meyrick. In 1906, the railway company opened a halt for Meyrick Park at the bridge where the railway crosses the road through the park. As the rest of the railway runs in a cutting, this was the only place for a halt to be built. With the halt being at the northern entrance to the Park it brought the public and golfers to the Park and also provided a train service for fast growing Winton. The halt was used as part of a ‘rail car service’ which ran from Bournemouth West to Christchurch, with excursions to Brockenhurst. It was closed in 1917 as a wartime economy measure and never reopened.
In 1921, when laying out part of the Talbot Woods Estate for residential development, the Earl of Leven and Melville donated 76 acres of the estate to Bournemouth in order to enlarge the park. The land was in two plots; one between the railway and the north east corner of Little Forest Road, and the other between Elgin Road and Glenferness and Leven Avenues. These additions to the park allowed the golf course to be extended and redesigned to its current layout. The photo on the left is the current 12th green which was built on the plot of land close to Little Forest Road.
When the course was built in 1894, club houses were built for each of the three golf clubs which were established at the course. Two of these can be seen in the photograph of the golf course in the Images Gallery (the original picture is held in Bournemouth Central Library). Also when the park was extended in 1921, the boundary between the Park and Talbot Woods was removed and the fairways (3rd, 5th, & 16th) created. However, under the grass of the current fairways, the remains of the old wall or boundary mound are still clearly visible.
Below is an early photo of the Central Drive, with the playing fields on the right, the houses of Meyrick Park Crescent at the top right and the pine trees of Talbot Woods top left. Along side it is a similar view taken recently. The trees in the park are more mature now and the houses in Meyrick Park Crescent are no longer visible.
As part of the transaction which donated the land to Bournemouth, the Earl was allowed to continue Leven Avenue through to Glenferness Avenue (although Glenferness did not exist at the time). The route taken by Leven Avenue was across the corner of the original park and there are two houses in Leven Avenue, which have been built on the corner of the old golf course.
Finally, The Inclosure Act created five plots to be held in trust for the commoners. Meyrick Park was created on one and three of the other four plots were used to create Kings Park, Queens Park and Redhill Common.
Barker, J., 1980. Meyrick Park Halt. Bournemouth: Bournemouth Local Studies Publications.
Mate, C. H., Riddle, C., 1910. Bournemouth 1810-1910. Bournemouth: Mate
Popplewell, L., 1973. Bournemouth railway History, An exposure of Victorian engineering fraud. Sherbourne: Dorset Publishing Company.
Russell-Cotes, M., 1920. Home and Abroad. Bournemouth: Russell-Cotes
Smith, K., Mitchell, V., 1988. South Coast Railways – Bournemouth to Weymouth. Midhurst: Middleton Press.
Young, D. S., 1970. The Story of Bournemouth. Wakefield: S.R. Publishers
All of the images used are owned by the writer except for:
Meyrick Park Halt - displayed with permission of David Shead
The early photo of Central Drive- displayed with permission of David Shead
The plan of the original golf course - taken form a travel guide owned by Ken Cross
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