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
Then in April/May 2012, this Residents Association and Pokesdown traders merged to become the new Pokesdown Community Forum.120a
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 The area is changing constantly (in a good way), so this map might be outdated in no time at all.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.”
Pokesdown Community Forum have also been spearheading the decade-plus long campaign to make Pokesdown Station accessible, where the lifts from the platforms to the footbridge have been out-of-order since about 1984, meaning the only access is via 42 steps. Full details of the key issues can be read here:
The Case For Pokesdown Station – Making The Station Accessible.
You can sign the petition here.122a There’s even a ‘Pokesdown Station Song‘!
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’ 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.
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.
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
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 in the church building (Coronavirus precautions in place).
The copy and paste citation for this page:
The History of Rosebery Park Baptist Church and Pokesdown, Page 7 (to current day). Author: Michelle Fogg. Date: June 2021. Url: https://roseberypark.org/history/to-current-day-incl-pokesdown-page-7/
Rosebery Park Baptist Church, 812-814 Christchurch Road, between Boscombe and Pokesdown, Bournemouth, BH7 6DF