Russell-Cotes free admission weekend

As part of the Bournemouth Arts by the Sea Festival there is free admission to The Russell-Cotes Art Gallery and Museum this weekend.

Open free Saturday 14 October and Sunday 15 Oct 2017, 10am to 5pm.

This is a rare opportunity to look around the exotic cliff top villa on the East Cliff coast path just east of the Pier.

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John Liddell exhibition

The Russell-Cotes Art Gallery & Museum on the coast path near the start of the East Cliff is a good stop for food and a rest.

The building is the former clifftop home of Sir Merton Russell-Cotes and his wife Annie.

The good news is that although there is an admission charge you can go to the cafe without paying.

This also admits to a large gallery where the winter exhibition is of work by artist and printmaker John Liddell (1924-2005).

He taught nearby at the Bournemouth College of Art and spent many years painting the Dorset coast and Poole Harbour. His speciality was boats which appear in many of his prints.

John Liddell also recorded delightful views in Moscow, Spain and Venice.

The limited edition prints are for sale. Especially tempting are the John Liddell greetings cards featuring a cat, Poole Park, Weymouth and, water again, Amsterdam.

Miscellany: Linocuts, Woodcuts and Wood Engravings by John Liddell is in the Cafe Gallery at the Russell-Cotes Art Gallery & Museum (closed Monday) until January.

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Walking the coast is popular

The Bournemouth-based The National Coastal Tourism Academy latest report finds that coastal walking is popular.

The survey for Perceptions of the English Coast: Identifying Opportunities for Domestic Non-Visitors reveals that “The most popular activity was walking”.

The summary says: “Coastal walking appeals across the board.”

Under a section looking at weather it suggests that “destinations need to focus on activities which can still be fun when the weather isn’t ideal (walking, water sports) and promote their all-weather attractions particularly cultural and historic ones”.

Bournemouth has the Bournemouth Coast Path which, if promoted like the Dorset Coast Path, should be bringing significant economic gains.

This timely report should be concentrating minds at Christchurch Council which has just closed a crucial Christchurch Coastal Path link.

This is at Highcliffe Castle. It should be reopened as an investment for future years since the spot combines all weather walking and an historic attraction which are both mentioned in the National Coastal Tourism Academy report.

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Bournemouth Air Festival

Bournemouth’s annual air show on the coast starts on Thursday 31 August and runs to Sunday.

The big attraction is always the Red Arrows which can be seen on Thursday 6pm, Friday 3.30pm and Saturday at noon.

Expect large crowds on the East Cliff over the four days.

But many walkers enjoy the spectacle from Boscombe and even the Purbecks.

The full Bournemouth Air Festival programme is here.

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Eustace Nash exhibition at Russell-Cotes

A Eustace Nash cartoon showing a couple still in evening dress snoozing in a deckchair without having bought a ticket. The familiar location is near the Pier at the start of the east promenade. (c 1920)

A room at the Russell-Cotes Art Gallery is this month devoted to the Bournemouth artist and illustrator Eustace Nash (1886 –1969) who knew the coast well.

With his friend and fellow artist Leslie Ward (188-1978) he explored Bournemouth, Poole Harbour and Purbeck for views.

The small exhibition features some coastal scenes and Nash cartoons.

‘Eustace Nash: Pen to Paper’ is at the art gallery and museum, which is open daily 10am-5pm including Bank Holiday Monday, until Wednesday 30 August; admission charge.

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Buses back at Hengistbury Head

A 1950 double decker Bournemouth Corporation Bus, an early Yellow Bus, is running from Bournemouth Station (Travel Interchange) to Hengistbury Head on two August Sundays.

On Sundays 13 and 27 August the bus will leave Bournemouth Station at 09.58am, 11.28am, 1.28pm and 2.48pm.

The journey is via Bournemouth and Boscombe Piers.

The return is at 10.45am, 12.15pm, 2.15pm and 3.45pm.

Return fare £7.

the service is run by Bear Cross Bus Company.

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Highcliffe Castle work starts

Further restoration work on Highcliffe Castle begins today.

At first the library and the ante-library, where the Kaiser have his famous Telegraph interview, will be closed.

The entire castle will be closed to visitors during the winter.

The work is being undertaken by Greendale Construction of Poole which recently undertook work on Durlston Castle.

The £2.9m project is due for completion in spring 2019 when it is planned to have long lost furniture returned.

The Castle Kitchen cafe will remain open during restoration.

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Centenary of first WW1 memorial

Barton Court shortly before the memorial was erected on the left

The war memorial at Barton-Sea was dedicated a hundred years ago today.

The ceremony took place Tuesday 10 July 1917 outside the clifftop Barton Court Hotel.

This is the oldest First World War memorial and it was erected before the end of the war.

The obelisk commemorates the establishment of a hospital for Indian troops who had served in Europe. The inscription on one side is in Urdu..

Britain’s only other memorial to the Indian contribution to victory over the Kaiser was erected at Brighton Pavilion in 192i. By coincidence The Dome, a former tearoom opposite the Barton memorial and dating from before the First World War, has echoes of the Royal Pavilion.

A century ago Barton’s memorial, at the south end of Barton Court Avenue, was just within the Barton Court Hotel grounds.

The hotel, described in 1899 as “a most delightful and unique retreat” with a nine-hole golf links adjacent, was taken over by the Army in 1914 to be “the convalescent depot for Indian troops”.

Many soldiers were in huts in the grounds which the patients found cold. As a result the camp magazine was called ‘Barton Breezes’.

Most of the Barton Court Hotel has been demolished as the cliff dramatically receded but the west end survives as a parade of seaside shops including Sails tea shop.

The name ‘Barton Court’ is still found on a gatepost.

Indian soldiers, a familiar sight at nearby New Milton Station, were also cared for at  Barton’s Grand Marine Hotel which stood on the western corner of First Marine Avenue.

The Urdu inscription

The former Dome tearoom known to the Indian soldiers

Dedication of memorial in July 1917

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Highcliffe Castle cafe reopens

Highcliffe Castle tea rooms has reopened and is rebranded Castle Kitchen.

Christchurch Council declined to renew Sean Kearney’s contract and, despite huge local opposition, has accepted a bid from the international Aramark catering company.

The Castle Kitchen is open daily 9.30am-5pm (winter 10am-4pm).

Outdoor tables last summer


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Coastal Access consultation views

The Isle of Purbeck from Canford Cliffs

Natural England has published proposals for how the national coastal path might pass along the Bournemouth coast.

This is the result of plans promised under the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009.

After careful reading I have now submitted my observations.

The great disappointment to me is that the proposed Poole Bay route merely follows the promenade.

At present, as recorded on Ordnance Survey maps, the path is mainly along the clifftop from where there are stupendous views rivalling the Cote d’Azur and Naples.

The official proposals ignore this except at Boscombe where the route suddenly and inexplicably climbs the cliff.

Sensibly, the report provides for the winter route, when the Mudeford Ferry ceases to run daily, via Christchurch and Stanpit.

At Avon Beach it is good to see the Christchurch Coastal Path being followed along the top of the low cliff above the beach cafe and shop.

But at Highcliffe the proposed way stays on the beach rather than taking today’s Christchurch Coastal Path route through Steamer Point Woods to Highcliffe Castle’s wooded cliff.

With a huge sum of money being spent on restoring the castle zig-zag, part of the existing coastal path, it would seem sensible to avoid change. This would be within the spirit of the legislation for a continuous coastal path.

The report claims that proposals would extend the national trail eastwards along the entire Dorset coast for the first time. This is only technically true.

The Bournemouth Coast Path and Christchurch Coastal Path have existed for over twenty years contributing to the vital link between the Dorset Coast Path and the Solent Way.

Bournemouth and Christchurch clifftop paths are recognised as the E9 European Coastal Path.

The consultation is open until Wednesday 16 August. Documents may be viewed online or at main public libraries along the coast.

The final proposals will be submitted to the Secretary of State Michael Gove who must confirm or vary the route in the light of objections.

The coast beyond Chewton Bunny to Milford-on-Sea which has crumbling cliffs, and may be subject to roll-back proposals, is being surveyed by another team which has yet to report.

Poole Bay

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