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Page 20 – The History of Rosebery Park Baptist Church and Pokesdown: 2019 to 2020

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In 2019 local residents were invited to vote on whether they wanted to have a Neighbourhood Plan, and voted ‘Yes’ by 93.48%… but the turnout was only 13.74%, which indicates a disappointing degree of disinterest, after so much thought and effort has/had gone into creating a plan for the betterment of the neighbourhood. The Plan boundary follows the boundary of the combined wards of Boscombe East and Boscombe West. The consultation document explains:124

The community from Boscombe and Pokesdown decided to join up and prepare a joint Neighbourhood Plan in 2015 following various planning decisions and public realm alterations within the Forum’s boundary that they did not support. They were very concerned about the number of older buildings being replaced by contemporary developments of poor quality design, which provided only small flats and no family accommodation. They were equally concerned about the loss of retail floor space and the replacement of historic shopfronts.

Heritage is at the centre of the NP, as is the provision of family housing for which there is an overwhelming need. The Forum want people to stay in the area and for this to be an established sustainable place to live. The high street has a number of significant heritage assets and the Forum wish to celebrate these by having policies which will improve the public realm, renovate building façades and provide for a variety of uses so the vitality and viability of the area is improved.

The area has a number of regeneration initiatives taking place, but these are focused around Boscombe and there is little coordination between Pokesdown and Boscombe. The Forum is keen to ensure that the regeneration of the area is heritage led and boosts local creative businesses. The area also contains a number of development sites and the Forum were keen to have an active say in what these sites are developed for. They want to ensure that these developments directly benefit the immediate environment and neighbourhoods in which they are located, and for the community to have a say in the planned delivery of infrastructure.

The Forum has a strong desire to maintain and enhance Pokesdown as a specialist shopping area.

BAP8: Managing our high street124a – Zone 6: Pokesdown – Boscombe and Pokesdown Neighbourhood Forum will work with Partners, on an investment program for environmental improvements to the shop fronts, buildings facades and vacant units in Pokesdown. A mix of uses excluding residential will be encouraged at ground floor level in accordance with Bournemouth Local Plan Policies.

Church building by Tim Smart. Used by permission. Thank you!
From a set of illustrations created for
the Boscombe & Pokesdown Neighbourhood Plan, 2019.
Available as plain text (and therefore text-to-audio compatible)
from original source: Daily Echo. Also as PDF here.

In 2020 a new mural of doves was painted along the Pokesdown Station platform wall by artist Krishna Malla, who was commissioned by Network Rail to improve the appearance of the station. Krishna explains:

“My longest wall, heaviest brief and a project that’s been a long time in the making. This station has had a hard time over the past few years for depressing circumstances surrounding mental health, and Network Rail asked me to create a positive mural to help uplift the area. Under no disillusion that a mural will solve anyone’s problems, it has given me a chance to draw attention to this and offer some kind of support through the voice my murals have given me. I chose Doves as the subject matter because of their symbology…”124b You can read her full description here.

colour photo of panel one of dove mural on the wall at Pokesdown Station
First panel of Dove Mural at Pokesdown Station. This photo taken for RPBC, 12/06/2021.

A Daily Echo article, 20/08/2020, adds: “Other measures to improve the station have included signage from The Samaritans and the introduction of Land Sheriffs and Trespass Welfare Officers.”124c

colour photo of Simon & Priscilla Bartlett

Rev. Simon Bartlett became the minister of Rosebery Park Baptist Church in September 2019. Before this he worked as an engineer on power stations and then spent 17 years working in Azerbaijan.  Simon is married to Priscilla, who is from Sri Lanka.  They have two children, both now at university. 

Photo: Rev. Simon Bartlett and Priscilla Bartlett.

Throughout its history, you can see the ongoing theme of Rosebery Park Baptist Church reaching out to the surrounding community and inviting everyone in:

building the original chapel, 1892 – quadrupling the size of the chapel – still not enough room for all the people attending! – the first sixty years of Rosebery Park Baptist Church saw the membership increase tenfold – eventually manage to move to the needed much larger premises, October 1951;

Rev. Perkins (1899 to 1918 at RPBC) “esteemed from one end of the town to the other as a Christian gentleman, as an earnest worker, and as a most strenuous pastor”;

hiring (with other local churches), and being able to fill to over-flowing the Astoria and Palladium Cinemas in the 1930s, which seated thousands;

‘meeting and greeting’ holidaymakers as they arrived at the train station and coach stop in the heyday of the British seaside holiday in the 1950s;

changing the front of the building in 1969 to literally open it up with wider central doors and a glass panel between entrance and main hall;

for the church’s 88th anniversary in 1979, holding an exhibition to tell local residents about the church’s work and history of service and ministering to the community;

in 2012 being excited to open its doors to the community by serving teas and coffees as a venue on the route of the Olympic Torch;

with ‘Churches Together in Boscombe’ being involved with ‘Open the Book’ taking Bible stories into schools, and ‘Boscombe Angels’ who were a listening ear and a caring presence for those out on a Friday or Saturday night (2010-20).

In his ‘Welcome’ message, Simon comments:

“We could describe the few hundred metres between the church and Pokesdown Station as the Portobello Road of Bournemouth.  There’s a concentration of antique shops selling everything from bric-a-brac to high-class antiques, and a great selection of bakeries, cafés and restaurants.  But good as all this is, we hope that at Rosebery Park you will find something of even greater value!”

You are welcome to join us on Sundays at 10.30am or 4pm for our services.

The copy and paste citation for this page:
The History of Rosebery Park Baptist Church and Pokesdown, Page 20 (2019 to 2020). Author: Michelle Fogg. Date: May 2022. Url:

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Rosebery Park Baptist Church, 812-814 Christchurch Road, between Boscombe and Pokesdown, Bournemouth, BH7 6DF