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History of Redhill Park and Common

Parliament passed the Christchurch Enclosure Act in 1802, protecting Redhill Common from all building development.  

During the Napoleonic wars there was a shortage of food so the main landowners of farm land in the Stour Valley combined to sponsor an act of Parliament which would finish common rights on the heaths of Bournemouth and place the common land in private hands, so as to make it possible to cultivate it.

The local people of the farms and holdings heard of the plan and the thought of losing the right to cut turf from the heath for their hearths left them aghast.

The cottagers protest made to the Commissioners appointed to share out the land is told in a local studies booklet No 612, entitled "Farmer West and Muscliffe", which is a contemporary account of what happened. The Commissioners heeded the request of the cottagers that their rights should be preserved, and reserved certain tracts of the heath as "Turbary Commons" (Turbary meaning the right to cut turf for fuel).

The right was confined to the occupiers of small properties standing at least 14 years before the passing of the Act of Enclosure. As Bournemouth grew, most of these cottages were pulled down to make way for modern housing and together with the cutting of peat giving way to coal being used as fuel, the right of Turbary fell into disuse. Thus enabling the Corporation to purchase the Turbary Commons and to lay them out as public parks and Redhill's eventual 25.91 hectares were purchased and laid out in this way.

A great deal of forestry, mainly the planting of conifers on the former treeless heaths took place in the 19th century and the conifers of Redhill Common are a reminder that Bournemouth's famous pine trees are the result of an attempt to justify the enclosure of the common land.

The site was visited in January 1913 with a view to its development as public pleasure grounds. It was decided to submit plans for the laying out of football grounds on the plateau near the southern end of the Common, the land to be prepared and sown with grass seeds and fenced, approximately 4 acres total.

In 1920 more trees were planted at Redhill Common. The British Legion (unemployed ex-servicemen) carried out much of the construction work on the common in the 1920's.

During 1936 the three tennis courts were "ALL WEATHER". Playground equipment was added, and the bowling green opened for play on Saturday 2nd May. In 1937 the name of the Common was changed to that of “Redhill Park”, with the pavilion constructed and opened on 4 th May 1938.

During the Second World War a first aid post was erected in the park to be used as an A.R.P. First Aid Station together with the sinking of a static water tank. This was later converted to a children’s paddling pool in 1956.

During 1959/60, two football pitches were constructed on the park. The construction of a children’s playground on the southern end of Redhill Park took place in 1973, incorporating roundabouts, swings, etc.

A single storey Parks Department Building was erected in 1982 in the park, for use as a mess room, garage and office complex.

Until recently Redhill Park and Common was managed as an amenity area but in 1998 it’s potential ecological value was recognised. Old aerial photographs of the site show it to have been dominated by heathland until the 1970’s when activities such as regular mowing and tree planting started to degrade the conservation interest of the site.

There is now an opportunity to undertake a heathland restoration project on Redhill Common that will return a large proportion of the site to its original state. The result will be a more natural area with a much improved value from a wildlife and an aesthetic point of view.

Related Information

 

Postal Address Bournemouth Parks,
Queens Park Pavilion,
Queens Park West Drive,
Bournemouth,
Dorset
BH8 9BY
Telephone 01202 451629
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