Mr Justice Maxell centenary

Cover of the first edition.

An important feature of Branksome Chine was the sea-view Branksome Tower Hotel on the eastern bank.

It was built in 1858 as a private house and became a hotel in 1892.

The many famous guests included the prolific author Edgar Wallace who set part of his novel Mr Justice Maxell there. It has never been out of print since its publication a century ago.

Wallace made this ‘solid mansion’ in Westminster Road again a residence. The other location used is Tangier which he also knew well.

In the thriller his main character Timothy Anderson keeps watch in the Branksome Towers garden on the east side of the chine where the author places is a disused well.

The clock which strikes midnight and one o’clock from ‘a distant church’ must belong to St Ambrose, at the top of the chine, in West Cliff Road.

The ‘Parade Drug Store’ is probably Westbourne’s dispensing chemists Taylor’s at 103 Poole Road. It was established in 1893 and had its own distinctive lamp post with a red light outside. Since 2010 the chemist’s, now called Vantage Pharmacy, has been at number 95.

A lodging ‘Vermont House’ is in Western Avenue. The concert featured probably takes place at the Winter Gardens in Bournemouth.

The Banksome Tower Hotel, later known as Branksome Towers and demolished in 1973, was advertised as ‘the only Bournemouth hotel with grounds extending to the seashore’ and ‘on its own cliffs in 9 acres of magnificent grounds’. (The hotel was of course not in Bournemouth but within the Borough of Poole which embraced Branksome and Branksome Dene Chines.)

Mr Justice Maxell was republished as Take-a-Chance Anderson but is again available under the original title.

The hotel also featured in the author’s Vote For Tony Newton story published in a magazine in 1923 which was a preview of his The Brigand novel in 1927.

Today’s cover.
Branksome Tower Hotel terrace

About Leigh Hatts

Leigh Hatts is an experienced walker and has known the local coastline since childhood. He is the author of many successful walking guides.
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