A VICTORIAN photo album found in an attic has provided some fascinating views of Bournemouth in its early days.

The pictures were discovered in a home in Parkstone and are due to be auctioned by auctioneers Davey and Davey.

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Auctioneer Neil Davey said no one knew who the photographer was or how the album had come to be in the house. The home's owner had died and the album had been discovered while the house was being cleared.

“It was found in the attic. It had been hidden away and the family wanted to sell it,” he said.

The exact age of the album is unclear, but Mr Davey believes it probably dates from the 1870s.

One the left hand pages are shots of Scotland, while on the right are fascinating scenes of old Bournemouth.

The development of modern Bournemouth had only begun after Captain Louis Tregonwell and his wife became the town centre's first official residents in 1812. The pictures show a town which was rapidly developing from unspoilt heathland into the resort we know today.

“In some of the pictures you can see thatched cottages,” said Mr Davey.

“I can't think when the last thatched cottage disappeared from Bournemouth town centre.”

Much of the fascination of the album lies in seeing the foundations of modern Bournemouth taking shape.

There is a view of Westover Villas near St Peter's Church, not far from where Austin Reed stands today. The area west of the pier, where Hot Rocks stands today, can be seen part-developed.

And the viewer can see the row of Victorian villas just uphill from the spot where the Pier Approach swimming baths and later the Waterfront Imax stood. The villas disappeared in the 1970s.

“In most of the photographs, there aren't figures,” said Mr Davey.

“Some have Bournemouth Square, which is fantastic. There are one or two of Bournemouth Square you can see a row of houses incorporated where WH Smiths is today.”

The owner of the photographs was clearly interested in churches. There are views of St Stephen's Church in Bournemouth and Christchurch Priory, inside and out, all in razor-sharp detail.

As well as venturing to Christchurch, the photographer has gone to parts of Poole, with views of the Beehive hotel in its Victorian incarnation and scenes of Parkstone and Sandbanks.

These were the days when photography was expensive but when the results had a clarity which can still impress the viewer today.

“It was in the 1840s that photography took off. It was the province of the rich. Whoever had the photographs taken must have been a wealthy person,” said Mr Davey.

He said he had rarely seen album this impressive. “I haven't seen many of those views before. One or two I have seen but largely I haven't seen those views,” he said.

“It's the first time in 36 years I've found anything this interesting in Bournemouth. It's quite rare.

“In terms of value I don't know what to put on it. I would hope £200-£300,” he added, although he said it was possible a collector might pay much more.

* The auction is on Saturday June 22, 10am, at Davey and Davey at 13 St Peter's Road, Parkstone.