MANY of us regularly pass through Bournemouth’s shopping arcades. But what do we know of how they first came to be?

Whether utilising the many popular shop chains, perusing the smaller boutique stores, or simply using them as a thoroughfare, hundreds of us visit the arcades each and every day.

Here the Echo takes a look into some of the historic arcades of Bournemouth.

The Arcade Bournemouth

The Arcade Bournemouth, also known as Henry Joy's Arcade and Gervis Arcade, runs between Gervis Place and Old Christchurch Road.

The area was previously a pretty glen with a rustic bridge.

Bournemouth Echo:

Henry Joy, who was a businessman and wealthy landowner, had the idea of making the area into a shopping district.

Henry was ridiculed by locals and media at the time and his plans became known as “Joy's Folly”.

The main thoroughfare was built in the exact position of the old bridge which was once beautifully covered in ivy and wild roses.

Bournemouth Echo:

Work on the arcade began in 1866 and took seven years to complete – with the roof not being added until 1873.

The project threatened to bankrupt Joy, but his folly soon became a success. With this, he set his sights on building another shopping arcade.

Westbourne Arcade

Henry Joy built Westbourne Arcade, and its first shop opened in 1885.

Joy was clearly proud of the project and had his name, along with the construction date of 1884, engraved in large letters in stone arches that frame the entrances.

Bournemouth Echo:

The Poole Road entrance once had a glass canopy, although it’s not known if it was part of the original design or a later addition.

It seems that Joy’s Westbourne project was not the instant success that his Bournemouth Arcade had been a decade earlier.

Although the Arcade was built in 1884, it wasn’t until mid-January 1885 that Willis and Trantum became the first occupants.

Bournemouth Echo:

By the end of the year, there were still only five occupied shops out of a possible 24.

Things gradually picked up and the Westbourne Arcade eventually became a huge success.

Boscombe Royal Arcade

Boscombe Royal Arcade wasn’t built by Henry Joy, but by Archibald Beckett as part of a major expansion of Boscombe.

Between 1888 and 1895 he ensured that blocks of shops, the Salisbury Hotel and a Grand Theatre were all constructed – as well as the arcade.

Bournemouth Echo:

A short while after opening in 1892 the Royal Arcade was lit by electricity.

The arcade had a small balcony stage from which entertainers would often perform for the swelling masses below.

Bournemouth Echo:

When opened, the arcade was known as Grand Continental Arcade and was a little different to most in the fact that it was in the shape of an “L”

The Royal Arcade cost more than £40,000 to build.