The History of Alum Chine and Argyll Gardens

Find out how Alum chine and Argyll Gardens started out, and how they have evolved over the years

A Chine is a steep sided dry river valley, Alum Chine is the largest of Bournemouth’s four Chines and got its name from the local alum mining industry in the 16th century.

Alum is a fixative and was used in dyeing, tanning and painting. The mines were uneconomical and closed down in the mid 17th century.

The area was bought by William Dean in 1805 and at the time fishermen used the bay side area to store their boats and equipment. The tropical gardens were not laid out until the 1920s.

The gardens were a part of the Gardens of Excellence scheme to make Bournemouth even more appealing.  By the 1990s the gardens had become overrun and in 1996 they were replanted and a paved viewing area was added.

The Chine bridges

Three bridges cross the Chine, the first is a suspension bridge and was built in 1903.  The second bridge is a spandrel or arched bridge and was built in 1922 to replace an existing bridge, which Winston Churchill fell off whilst playing there as a boy in 1892! The third bridge is a beam and post bridge and was built in 1924.

Argyll Gardens

These gardens were originally planted in 1903 and included a ‘public convenience’, bowling green and croquet lawn. The site was transferred to us in 1919.

A pavilion replaced the croquet lawn in 1931 because tennis had become more popular, but these were replaced by another bowling green in 1980 when a new pavilion was built.