THE Duke of Edinburgh was 30 years past the traditional retirement age by the time he decided to take it easier.

The announcement that Prince Philip, 95, will no longer carry out public engagements means many decades of public work will come to an end this autumn.

The Duke’s first recorded visit to Bournemouth was in September 1949, when, aged 28, he came to Dean Park cricket ground to captain his own XI, containing several England stars, against Hampshire.

His side won by a wicket, after which he retired to the Kings Arms Hotel in Christchurch, waving to the crowds from the balcony as he dined with Dennis Compton.

The Duke remembered the match, and the result, in a letter he wrote to Bournemouth University 53 years later.

In 1955, Philip arrived by helicopter to visit Barnardo’s Parkstone Sea Training School, joking with the boys and visiting the sick bay.

Three months later, the former Royal Navy officer was at the controls of a helicopter himself as he flew to Lulworth, to watch a mock battle.

In 1958 he was at Hurn to inspect the Vickers-Armstrong aircraft premises and piloting a Viscount. Apprentices noted his “intimate knowledge” of the work they were doing. He was back at Hurn in 1965 to see the BAC1-11 factory.

The factories and naval establishments of the area often interested the Duke. In 1961, he spent two and a half hours inspecting the Military Engineering Establishment at Christchurch.

One of the Duke of Edinburgh’s lasting achievements has been the establishment in 1956 of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award scheme for young people. His work with the charity took him to Brockenhurst in 1965.

In 1966, he was at Bryanston School, and later the same year he visited the area with the Queen, planting a tree in King’s Park and visiting Victoria School, where he joked with pupils.

In 1968, he was at Winfrith to activate its nuclear reactor. “The next stage is to exploit this success to world markets,” he said.

Later the same year, he was at the controls of a tank at Bovington, where he smothered the press pack with the vapour from the vehicle’s smoke bomb.

He was back with the Queen to open Poole Hospital in 1969, joking to a nurse who gave him a red carnation: “I hope the patients are all behaving themselves.”

In the 1970s, he visited Hamworthy’s Royal Marines Base as well as the borstal at Guy’s Marsh, where he chatted with 21 trainees about sports adventure training.

The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh’s visit to Poole and Bournemouth in 1979 was a particularly busy one.

After arriving at Poole station, they went to Poole Arts Centre, which had opened the previous year. As the bar opened at the venue, the Duke joked: “Don’t let us interfere with your refreshments, just carry on.”

After hearing a Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra rehearsal, the couple headed to Poole Quay to visit Poole Pottery. Then it was on to Dorset Institute of Higher Education at Wallisdown and to Bournemouth Central police station.

Only three weeks later, Philip was back to accompany the Queen on a visit to the New forest.

Famous for his forthright and sometimes controversial remarks, the Duke got a “stormy” reception from the Central Council of Physical Recreation’s national conference in Bournemouth in 1980, when he called for more cohesion in sports bodies.

He received a warmer welcome during further visits to the Royal Marines at Hamworthy – and to Wytch Farm in 1990, when he and the Queen watched grandchildren Zara and Peter Phillips perform at Port Regis school, and the Queen opened a sports hall.

The Royal train brought the couple back to Poole in 1998. They moved on to Queen Elizabeth's School, Wimborne, where the Duke stuck his head through a class window to share a joke with pupils.

A major visit by the Queen and Duke in 2004 saw the couple arrive at King’s Park to meet the AFC Bournemouth squad under Steve Fletcher, along with military veterans and the Echo’s then-editor Neal Butterworth. The couple visited the RNLI’s new training college that afternoon as well as the Lighthouse. Over lunch there, the Duke mentioned that he fancied a beer – and Bournemouth mayor Cllr Emily Morrell-Cross sent a waiter out to buy some bottled ales.

In 2009, the Queen and the Duke were at Bovington again, where Philip enjoyed a thorough look at the Tank Museum, before inspecting Olympic preparations at Weymouth.

In 2012, he was at Sherborne Abbey as part of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee tour. The tour’s last stop was at the New Forest Show. At 91, and having just recovered from a severe infection, the Duke showed few signs of slowing down.