The Rosebery Park Estate
1. In the 1880s ‘Freemantle’ was the name for the area between Pokesdown and Boscombe. The nucleus of the original Rosebery Park Baptist fellowship came from the Baptist Mission Chapel at Freemantle, opened in 1889, on the same site now occupied by the present Rosebery Park Baptist Church building (812-814 Christchurch Road).
2. In 1891 the new fellowship met in a rented school room in Stanley Road, which later had its name changed to Livingstone Road.
3. The chapel on the corner of Harcourt and Morley Roads, on the Rosebery Park Estate, was built in 1892. It was expanded in 1897 and 1925.23
Here is historical evidence of the name Rosebery Park Estate! from the ‘Bournemouth Guardian’, June 1889: an advert for the sale of building plots; and an article in the ‘Christchurch Times’ newspaper, dated 31st January 1891, discussing problems with the state of the roads.
“Rosebery Park” is a composite of the name of the famous Victorian aristocrat and Liberal politician, Lord Rosebery, and, as Young says, misusing the word “Park” to “glorify [an] unremarkable piece[s] of land being sold as [a] building estate[s]”!24
It must have been a common practise to name building ‘estates’ and roads after “national prominent people” even when they didn’t have any particular connection to the local area – there are over fifty such road names in Bournemouth.25 David Butterfield writes in his article, ‘British Street Names’, “Nineteenth-century urbanisation increasingly commemorated aristocratic landowners, parliamentarians worth their salt, and battles in which locals fell.”26
Lord Rosebery was the 5th Earl of Rosebery, Archibald Primrose, and was Prime Minister in 1894/95.27 Morley, Harcourt and Granville Roads were also named after Rosebery’s fellow politicians. Samuel Morley was an MP, industrialist, philanthropist and abolitionist (campaigned to end slavery)28 – a busy man! Sir William Harcourt’s roles included Solicitor General in Gladstone’s first ministry, and later, Leader of the House of Commons. The second Earl Granville, George Leveson-Gower, was Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs, then Foreign Secretary, then leader of the Liberals in the House of Lords.29
A Bournemouth Daily Echo article from 1900 states that “Eminent political personages have been freely drawn upon [by the road-namers]”! “For here [in Pokesdown] we find the names of such modern political lights as Rosebery, Morley, Harcourt… among others”.30
Cartoon courtesy of The Morgan Library & Museum.
In his memoir, ‘Pokesdown and Neighbourhood, 1895 to 1910’, E.G. Wills describes the Rosebery Park Estate and adjoining roads:31
“Then came a cottage where Mr. Mitchell, the local foreman of the Bournemouth, Boscombe and Westbourne Omnibus Company lived and a wide driveway down to the stables and yard for the buses and horses. This is where later a tram shed was built and the stables and buildings were taken over by the Bournemouth Corporation for their Pokesdown depot, after their extension of the Borough had taken place.
Between the house where the foreman lived and Morley Road, there was Clarks the bakers (later Hannams), an ironmongers shop and a paper shop and tobacconists, and on the corner Summerbee’s fruit and vegetable shop.
On the other corner up to Rosebery Road were several shops including Samson the cycle shop, Mitchelmores the shoe shop and another paper shop and tobacconists with another hoarding on the corner. On the other corner of Rosebery Road was Larkins the coal merchant, dealing in hay, corn and firewood as well. Then up to Queensland Road was Dr. Dickie’s garden and coach house and stable, looked after by Bill Kent, followed on the corner by Dr. Dickie’s surgery and his private house.
Parkwood Road, Harvey Road, Pauncefort Road, Granville Road, Queensland Road, Rosebery Road and Harcourt Road were recognised as the well-to-do part of Pokesdown, the remainder being the working classes homes and shops. Southbourne Road was also a high class neighbourhood.
On the other side of Cromwell Road from Christchurch Road was a field to the back of the houses in Morley Road; this field was where cattle grazed while waiting to be slaughtered at the back of the next building which was another Wrenns the butcher shop.”
There were many more shops between Queen’s Road (now Queensland Road) and Parkwood Road, and along all of Cromwell Road (now Seabourne Road): a cutlery shop, a clothier, stationer, jewellers, hairdresser, sweetshop, drapers, greengrocer, chemist, off licence, shoe mender, Post Office, joinery works, coal merchants, bakers, dairy, fishmonger, barber, paint and oil shop – and more than one of many of them.
From the corner house at the junction of Parkwood Road with Southbourne Road, right along to the corner of Stourwood Avenue was a large field where residents of Pokesdown could tether their horses and goats when not being used, and a forest of pine and beech trees. All the land east from Irving Road to Tuckton Road was farmland.32
I could only fit some of Pokesdown’s history gems on the map above, so I’ve made a table to acknowledge some more of them:33a
Rosebery Park Baptist Church’s First Minister
Whilst meeting in the hired school room, and then for the first nine months in the newly completed chapel, services were led by a mix of “good and worthy brethren”, including an eight-day gospel mission led by Mr King of the Pastor’s College, Metropolitan Tabernacle.34
Pastor Edward Lawrence was the first dedicated Minister of Rosebery Park Baptist Church, from 1893 to 1898. He had been a last-minute fill-in preacher on one Sunday in April 1893, who the congregation liked so much, they asked him to stay on! Under his leadership, Articles of Faith (a statement about what this church believes) and rules of membership were established. He and his wife are mentioned in these newspaper articles from 1895. “On the sands” means down on the beach!
The church’s history booklet explains: “Mr. Lawrence’s evangelical ministry was such that the small chapel became overcrowded and a larger building was erected on the site [in 1897], the original chapel being used for Sunday School work.”
“During his ministry the Sunday School, started in October 1892 had grown to forty scholars and a bible class for adult males, started on the first Sunday in 1894 with sixteen members.”35
Into a new century…
It was during Rev. William Perkin’s ministry, 1899 to 1918, that Rosebery Park Baptist Church, until then an independent Baptist church, was accepted into membership of the Baptist Union.36
An article in the ‘Bournemouth Guardian’, from 1906, describes Rev. Perkins as “esteemed from one end of the town to the other as a Christian gentleman, as an earnest worker, and as a most strenuous pastor” to a church of “very earnest and struggling people”.37
In 1912, thanking attendees at a sale of goods, Rev. Perkins describes the church as “not absolutely poverty stricken” but “a poor church” which “needed outside help”.38
The 1914 ‘Bournemouth Guardian’ report on the church’s annual sale includes the explanation from the church secretaries: “We are obliged by the necessity of maintaining our pastoral work to hold our annual sale of work. Urgent requirements alone compel us to this course, notwithstanding the great war claims of this year… our pastor’s large dependence for his stipend upon the produce of this sale leaves us no option in the matter.”39
In January 1915 we read the sad announcement in the Bournemouth Graphic of the funeral of Eleanor Perkins, Rev. Perkin’s wife.40
We don’t have full details of what the church or church members were doing during, specifically, the duration of the First World War. We have a Bournemouth Guardian article on 22nd November 1919, which speaks of a social evening to welcome back seven returned service members (see below). We know that the Minister who started at the church in 1918 was a Chaplain with the forces during the war41, and that the church collected money for the wounded soldiers and sailors fund.42 In addition, we can get a picture of life in general in the Pokesdown area from M.A. Edgington’s booklet ‘Bournemouth and the First World War’.
Overall, Bournemouth had to accommodate 16,000 troops. Infantry and mounted men, including troops from New Zealand, were billeted in Pokesdown, Boscombe and Southbourne. Plus there was an encampment at Iford. As part of the efforts to provide recreational facilities for the men, a new YMCA hut was built at Pokesdown near the railway station. Pokesdown Technical Institute, on the corner of Hannington and Christchurch Roads, was the home of the ‘Bournemouth War Hospital Wood Work Depot’. The local scouts helped collect wood, which the men at the depot made into useful articles such as crutches and bed tables. An Empire Club for girls was started, by the same women who organised patrols to shoo the girls away from the soldiers! Activities for the girls included physical training, drill, singing classes and dressmaking.43
At his farewell service, October 1918, it was said of Rev. Perkins that he was a scholar with a very extensive knowledge but what justified him becoming a minister was his deep spirituality.44 A 1921 article, about the long campaign for a new school, describes him as one of the “old stalwarts of Pokesdown”.45
The tramway from Lansdowne to Warwick Road, Pokesdown was opened in 1902, after a series of legal battles between the British Electric Traction Company and the Bournemouth Corporation. In 1905 it was extended to Christchurch, via Seabourne Road, Pokesdown.45a Here is a letter about helpful tram times for working men:
After serving as a Chaplain with the forces in World War One, Rev. Henry Bury was the third Minister of Rosebery Park Baptist Church, from 1918 to 1921. His ministry at RPBC saw the start of Boy Scouts and Girl Guide meetings, the church being registered as a place of worship in 1919, and the 1921 installation of electric light in the chapel, at a cost of £29.19s!46
The copy and paste citation for this page: The History of Rosebery Park Baptist Church and Pokesdown, Page 2. Author: Michelle Fogg. Date: April 2021. Url: https://roseberypark.org/history/incl-pokesdown-page-2/
Rosebery Park Baptist Church, 812-814 Christchurch Road, between Boscombe and Pokesdown, Bournemouth, BH7 6DF