Marketing Early Victorian Bournemouth

Marketing Early Victorian Bournemouth

Non-stop promotion


Marketing early Victorian Bournemouth discusses how constant promotion acted as a corner stone for its quick success. Soon after the Marine Village began, the area had a name, a positioning and a place on social calendars. Bourne had become Bourne Mouth, then Bournemouth. It appealed not only to wealthy invalids but also their healthy relatives. It called to the man in the Ringwood street, bored with what his town could offer for a day’s entertainment. Gentry found a new candidate location for their summer season away. Its repeated mention in the press suggests the possibility of a consistent, concerted and focussed promotional campaign.

Marketing Early Victorian Bournemouth: success breeds success

Promoting the dream

Although the Tregonwells laid claim as Bournemouth’s ‘founders’, business began with the Marine Village. First came the vision, a dream. Newspapers trumpeted the arrival of a watering place to rival those of Devonshire. Lithographic views showed visible proof of the dream’s reality. Hotel, baths, commodious villas (18 announced, Italianate design), capacious mansions, scenery, healthy climate. For those needing further reassurance, the identity of its promoter served: Sir G. W. T. Gervis, M.P. Promotion, however, did not end with the settlement’s beginning. Press coverage over the next two decades concentrated on the resort’s continuing success. Articles followed progress made on the built environment. In response to demand, improved baths were announced, then built, then opened. Renovations occurred at the Bath Hotel not long after its construction. A church, demanded also, appeared, then came the campaign for its enlargement. The press engaged its readers in the resort’s success as a continuing theme.

Maintaining the momentum

In marketing terms, the promoters understood the need for and delivered on the magic of momentum: get involved or you’ll get left behind. On occasion they even talked about it, the press reporting on how full Bournemouth had become. This buzz, however, did not comprise the whole campaign. The promoters used other ways to add texture and dimension to the town’s identity. Assiduous announcements marking the arrivals of well-born visitors maintained each season’s fervour. People expected this. Visitor lists appeared for many resorts. They provided an implicit public endorsement of a place’s reputation. If well-known guests arrived, the resort had arrived. The campaign to win and then support the National Sanatorium became a major theme in the 1850s. The press followed the detail of the land search, local bazaars held by upper class people for funds, the building and its opening. The Sanatorium maintained the momentum of Bournemouth’s public image.

Marketing Early Victorian Bournemouth: the Queen and the politician

The Queen Dowager

After a ‘sumptuous’ dinner laid on by Miss Toomer, the Bath Hotel’s manager, marking the laying of the church’s corner stone, attendees drunk the Queen Dowager’s health that evening. The following summer, 1842, Queen Adelaide visited Highcliff and Canford, beginning a three months’ stay in the latter from October. Within a fortnight of her arrival there, she made a private visit to Bournemouth. Here she strolled on the ‘fine sands of the beach’ while ‘enjoying the soft and invigorating sea breeze’. Word had spread (perhaps managed), for, on return to her carriage, she encountered most of the resort’s visitors, watching from a respectful social distance. She acknowledged the hearty cheers accompanying her departure. Not only did the article include her reported approval of the trip, but also hinted at the possibility of her return, a boost for winter bookings. The press appeared to see this as an unofficial Royal Warrant.

The Politician

Lord John Russell came to Bournemouth in 1839. He perhaps came to rest and mull over his life, having lost his father and his wife. Also, his term as Home Secretary had just finished. ‘Inhabitants and visitants’, however, saw no reason to leave in peace an important politician. Mail services had not established Bournemouth as a settled place on their map. Complaints occurred about the length of time taken for deliveries. parcels going elsewhere. ‘Lord John Russell, at present residing at Bournemouth, has seen the absurdity of the present arrangement, and will no doubt suggest, in the proper quarter, the best means to reform it.’ The penultimate word may have reflected the editor’s artfulness in acknowledging the politician’s role in passing the Reform Bill. At any rate, readers would note that a person of Russell’s stature visited Bournemouth. Once again, a notable’s presence provided implicit endorsement for the resort’s stature. 

Marketing Early Victorian Bournemouth: Dr Granville’s approval

His visit

Between the toasting of the Queen Dowager at the church ceremony and her visit, a doctor, well-known and well-connected, visited Bournemouth to attend a ‘distinguished patient’. Whilst there, he received an invitation to visit the town and have dinner with a ‘select party’ at the Bath Hotel. Miss Toomer once again produced a ‘sumptuous’ meal. After various toasts, including one for his health, the doctor gave a speech that must have excited any entrepreneurs around the table.  ‘I … have no hesitation in stating … that no situation that I have seen possesses so many capabilities of [Bourne’s] being made the very first sea-bathing place in England.’ He added that the winter climate suited invalids as well.  His earlier association with the Duke of Clarence may have had a role in persuading his widow, the Queen Dowager, to make her visit to the site of his discovery.

Media exploitation

This endorsement of Bournemouth reappeared in his subsequent book discussing English spas. The awareness of his name – Dr A.B. Granville – providing additional authority to the contents. Thereafter a comet’s tail of reviews propelled the book’s awareness through the reading public, most of whom belonged in the target group for visiting Bournemouth. The tail lengthened as mention of the book appeared in advertisements designed to market property. Samuel Bayly, an early notable resident and businessman, made efforts to create a tontine underpinned by several of his assets. Granville’s book received a mention in the tontine’s advertisement. It even appeared in other book reviews. For example, Brannon’s local guide, which included ten enticing pictures, received a review that mentioned Granville’s book. Securing Dr Granville and then the constant marketing of his endorsement for Bournemouth suggests a shrewd understanding of media management. It played an important part in the settlement’s initiation.


Marketing early Victorian Bournemouth has explored different aspects of constant promotional campaigns for the resort. Communication specialists today sometimes speak about ‘message mix’ and maximising stories through multiple media. It seems plausible that early Bournemouth’s supporters even then had a good grasp of these points. The constant press articles and Granville’s book must have generated substantial interest and word-of-mouth in the resort’s favour.


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