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Page 13 – The History of Rosebery Park Baptist Church and Pokesdown: the 1960s

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The church building before the alterations to the front.
Photo from booklet ‘Rosebery Park Baptist Church:
The First Hundred Years’ by Robert J. Jeans.

The date of this photo is unknown, but it is after RPBC moved into this building (formerly known as “Keswick Hall”) in 1952, and BEFORE the alterations to the front of the building carried out in 1969/70. (See below for more on this).

Colour photo of a yellow trolleybus taking a right turn past the old Pokesdown fire station.
Trolleybus by the Fire Station on the corner of Christchurch and Seabourne Road,
mid-late 1960s. Source: Bill Lonnen, Bournemouth History Facebook

“The 15 firemen who are the Pokesdown fire-fleet, work in three separate watches—Red, White and Blue—a nine-hour stint during the day: 15 on the night shift.” They have a button they press to change all the traffic lights at the three-way crossroads to red, allowing the fire engine to “speed on its way”, explains Crawley.84

‘Limelight on Pokesdown’, Christchurch Herald, 1st March 1963, by Tony Crawley:

“Pokesdown today is a big business centre — electrics seeming to be the most popular. Second-hand shops run a close second — they certainly attract the most window-gazers, rummagers and even eventual buyers. The township also houses a Blind Centre in Harrington-road, a Deaf Centre in Morley-road—and the Civil Defence Centre in Seabourne-road. The Astoria Cinema, in Christchurch-road, is owned by Ald. Marry Mears —part of his South Coast chain—and is quick to bring back successful new British and American films for their second local run.”85

Former Astoria Cinema, Pokesdown. Changed to bingo late 60s. Demolished 1997/98.
Source: Primolux. © John Thornley & Bob Dodson.

“Today’s Pokesdown [Railway Station] -so handy to the main road, buses and taxis on alighting from the trains- has a lift, which is always put at the disposal of the crippled [apologies – not language we would use today] or wheelchair-bound.”86 “Summer time is its busiest time, both for the day excursions snapped up by the local and Southbourne folk—and the incoming holidaymakers.”87

Colour photo of a yellow trolleybus driving past Pokesdown Station. The sign for Pokesdown Station is green. There is a blue car driving behind the bus. In the background a building with the sign New Era Laundry can be seen.
Photo showing Pokesdown Station and New Era Laundry, early 1960s. Source: Red House Museum Facebook.

“The New Era laundry works in Scotter-road, Pokesdown is more than 60 years old; this laundry concern was started as a small family business by the father of the present chairman, Mr. S. F. Bell. It is now an immense business—dealing with some 90,000 articles in their summer peak periods. And that includes 20,000 sheets. With its dry-cleaning subsidiary firm, New Era employs a staff of 170, including office personnel—plus a fleet of 15 delivery vans, covering an area from the New Forest to Swanage. Most of the staff have been on the company’s books for all their lives…”88

Rev. William Cowlan, Minister 1962 – 1969. Photo property of RPBC.

Rev. William Cowlan, who had been working with the Religious Education Press, became RPBC’s Minister in June 1962. His innovations include a yearly Harvest Sunday bread and cheese lunch to raise funds for Christian Aid, and a charity shop for ‘War On Want’ which raised £87.15s.4d. in donations and over three tons of clothing was sent to Persia and Algeria that year.89

In 1965 everyone who had connections with the church was invited to complete pro formas indicating what service they could offer and what need they had which they felt the Church could offer them, in the “Time, Talent & Treasure” stewardship programme. Some of the young people formed a guitar group, in 1964, called The Saints! Also on the theme of music, a new organ, a Hammond TR3, was purchased and dedicated in June 1966.90

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The History of Rosebery Park Baptist Church and Pokesdown, Page 13. 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