Rev. Reg Cook started at RPBC in 1983. His wife, Barbara, started a Mother and Toddler Group at the beginning of 1985 which often operated to capacity, and a keep fit class!
RPBC joined others in the Boscombe East area for an extensive outreach programme to the growing Littledown Estate.
Boscombe Churches decided to hold a joint Sunday evening service every two months in the participating churches in rotation.113
Rev. Reginald J. Cook, Minister at RPBC 1983 to 1997. Photo property of RPBC.
In 1991, with a membership of 146,114 the church celebrated its one hundred year anniversary. Writing in the church’s ‘Good News’ magazine, Reg Cook said:
“…the church isn’t about changing members or ministers, about changing organisations or hymns, but about the unchanging Christ. ‘Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.’ says the writer of Hebrews. ‘O Thou who changest not, abide with me,’ says H.F. Lyte’s hymn. We thank God that amidst all the changes in our life and circumstances there is the unchanging Christ from whose love nothing in life or in death can separate us. That is what we are celebrating in 1991, the same faith that brought together those 25 in 1891 and with the same vision we go forward into the future, not knowing where it will lead us, but sure of the love of God in Christ Jesus.”115
Two nearby changes that may have impacted shopper footfall in Pokesdown were the pedestrianisation of Boscombe’s main shopping area in 1990115a, and the 2003 upgrade from the worn-out Hampshire Centre to the new Castlepoint Shopping Park on the same site.115b
Rev. Philip Parfitt was Minister at RPBC from 1997 to 2006. Philip, Christine (his wife) and Annabel their daughter were all involved with the church. While he was ‘in office’, the inside of the church building was completely re-vamped, the pews removed, the staging at the front also. The pulpit was removed from the wall under the cross (many in the church were unhappy about that), and the whole place painted! It was a huge job, and while that was happening, the services took place in the downstairs hall. New legislation had come in regarding having disabled toilets, so the Deacons’ Vestry was turned into one, and the door into the church put where it now is. Scaffolding had to be erected for the painting to be done. New furniture was bought – for the church as well as for the hall, replacing the plastic chairs now upstairs. New carpet was also bought for the church.116
Alison was appointed in 2009 as part-time minister, as funds were beginning to run a bit low. Alison is married to Rev. Grenville Overton, who was then Regional Minister for the Southern Counties Baptist Association.
She was a very able pastor, and encouraged children’s work. Under her, we became involved with Moorlands College, and started to have students from there in placement with us. The first was Seidel Abel Boanerges (see below). At around the same time, we appointed a family, Youth and Children’s Worker – Rick Cole, who with his wife Helen, had just finished at Moorlands. Sadly in January 2015 he died from a heart attack, leaving a young widow. He had managed to build up some children’s activities, and his death left the church reeling.
Meanwhile, Alison was much involved with Church Together in Boscombe, and had suggested the local churches start an Open the Book team, taking Bible stories into a local school. She began the group, which continues the work even in lock-down, via videos and messages. She also introduced Boscombe Angels (Street Pastors), of which she was one to start with, but found she could not do that and all the other activities! Alison retired in 2017.117
Rev Seidel Abel Boanerges was the Associate Minister at Rosebery Park. This post was created to oversee the evangelism and outreach of the church. He joined the leadership team at Rosebery Park in 2012 and served till end of 2015 before taking on a new role as the Director of Outreach at Capernwray Bible School at Capernwray Hall.118
The booklet Rosebery Park Baptist Church: The First Hundred Years, 1891 to 1991, by Robert J. Jeans, includes much more detail on things such as internal changes to the buildings, what roles individuals undertook in the church, the different groups and activities run over the years, what outside causes and missionaries we supported, and the people who oversaw the church (called Moderators) whilst we were in-between Ministers.
Post-1991, during the “interregnum” (Minister-less gap!) between Rev. Philip Parfitt and Rev. Alison Overton, Rev. Adrian Thomas acted as Moderator, and retired minister, Rev. Derek Yates became interim minister and helped produce the new church covenant. He remained until Rev. Alison Overton was appointed. Between Rev. Alison Overton and Rev. Simon Bartlett, the interregnum was moderated by Rev. Ian Coffey of Moorlands College, and we appointed Chris Humphries (also from Moorlands) as interim minister.119
In 2012, Pokesdown South Residents Association won a £22,000 Lottery grant to purchase a 14ft-high welcome sign featuring a picture of village life from around 1900, a plaque showing the history of the area, two new benches, two solar lamps, four oaks, and more shrubs. Pam Ruthvan from the Association explained to the Echo newspaper: “we want to give [Pokesdown] back the identity it’s lost over the years.”120
Writing in 2015, Milla and Stuart at ‘Beyond Beach Huts’ described Pokesdown:121
Pokesdown starts and ends at its train station which was opened in 1886 and it seems like the station has only had some TLC about 100 years later waiting for another 100 years to pass. Totally stuck in the 80s! There is of course also the small green opposite the train station. It is the centre of a community project and even received a lottery grant! It’s used for small events and days commemorating the history of the area. Now, this is pretty much it. If you’ve found these areas, you are at the heart of Pokesdown!
The area has its own character if you compare it to its more well-known neighbours even though there is a blurred line as to where one ends and the other starts. Pokesdown has almost no high street chain type stores with pretty much everything being local independents. This is solely to celebrate! Also known as the Vintage Quarter, the large amount of antique and vintage shops lining the one and only shopping street in the district is hard not to notice. These aren’t only the expensive “proper” antiques but mostly affordable with great finds!
The stretch of Christchurch Road to Pokesdown used to be full of empty shops but slowly the area has started to regain its value through this very welcomed movement… There are also plenty of chances to have a tea or refreshments along the way …
The ones we’ve collected on this map are by no means all of them and we’ve probably missed quite a few gems, so the best thing you can do is just go on a discovery! The area is changing constantly (in a good way), so this map might be outdated in no time at all. More shops will probably open and a few will close – you know, the normal lifeline of a small shopping street.
A Daily Echo article from May 2013 explains:122
“Pokesdown Community Forum has been working with Bournemouth Council to track down landlords for the area’s empty shops so they can be occupied by home-grown vintage and creative businesses. Over the last three years they have helped fill more than 40 shops.”
However, this next map shows the area still struggling in many ways. The ‘Indices of Multiple Deprivation’ measures and combines seven areas -income, employment, health, education, living environment, crime, and barriers to housing & services- to assess if individuals and families lack basic necessities.
“Deprivation in the BCP area is polarised in a small number of highly deprived areas. They have been split into 4 categories of deprivation: Entrenched, Escalating, Continuing and Emerging. Clusters of deprived areas focus around 2 wards: Boscombe West and Kinson. All 5 areas with ‘Entrenched deprivation’ are within these two wards. Deprivation in these areas appears to be spreading or diffusing into neighbouring or nearby areas. A number of areas with ‘Escalating’ and ‘Emerging’ deprivation, where relative levels of deprivation have increased border or are close to these areas.” ~ BCP Insight Briefing Paper.123
In 2019 local residents were invited to vote on whether they wanted to have a Neighbourhood Plan, and voted ‘Yes’. 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.
The copy and paste citation for this page: The History of Rosebery Park Baptist Church and Pokesdown, Page 6. Author: Michelle Fogg. Date: April 2021. Url: https://roseberypark.org/history/incl-pokesdown-page-6/
Rosebery Park Baptist Church, 812-814 Christchurch Road, between Boscombe and Pokesdown, Bournemouth, BH7 6DF