Dean Court - Home of AFC Bournemouth
AFC Bournemouth have been playing on their grounds next to Kings Park since 1910; when a Bournemouth landowner leased them the land. The records of the freehold are now held at the Dorset History Centre.
An early hand drawn plan for the Dean Court Stadium
In 1910, J.E. Cooper Dean presented Boscombe FC (later AFC Bournemouth) with a long-term lease for wasteland next to Kings Park, where the team had been playing. The lease was snapped up by the team, who were in desperate need of their own pitch. The decision was made to name the grounds Dean Court after their benefactor.
J.E. Cooper Dean placed a ‘restrictive covenant’ on the freehold. This meant all building plans had to be submitted to the Cooper Dean estate for approval before any work was done.
The team grew in success. Plans for a new stand to house their ever growing number of supporters were submitted in the 1930s, and promptly approved. In 1936 a new stand opened which greatly improved the numbers that the grounds could hold. As the team continued to play well through the mid 20th century further plans were submitted. These included, alterations to the stands in 1950, and plans for new stands in 1964.
By the 1970s the stadium was in real need of renovation. Plans for a new stand, leisure facilities and new toilets were submitted to the Cooper Deans. Records demonstrate that residents living nearby were concerned about the possibility of more changes to the stadium so they sent photographs, sketches and letters to the Cooper Dean family to document their worries. However despite their concerns, the plans were approved and the improvements were made over the following years.
The final records for Dean Court in the Cooper Dean collection are plans for a new stadium and sports complex at Dean Court which were submitted in 1986. However, the eventual rebuild didn’t take place until much later. All of this information is available through the Cooper Dean collection held at the Dorset History Centre.
The Dorset History Centre records for Dean Court include building plans, working papers (which document the management of the land) and photographs of the stadium. The building plans date from 1936 – 1986 and the working papers 1948 – 1975.
The records that make up the Cooper Dean collection relate in the main to the business side of the estate. In particular to the development and management of the various estates. The archive is particularly strong in building records (the Restrictive Covenants required that a copy of the building plans be submitted to the Estate for approval). Very little material relating directly to the family has survived in the collection.