THE story of Bath Travel and Palmair has been told in the first of a series of videos profiling some of Bournemouth’s most famous businesses.

Rawlins Davy Solicitors has commissioned the videos about a selection of the area’s historic brands.

The law firm held a launch at Bournemouth’s Marsham Court Hotel to show the 12-minute video about the travel agency Bath Travel and Palmair, the airline whose founder used to personally see off every flight.

Rawlins Davy director Mark Kiteley told guests at the long-established hotel: “As we’re here to talk about an iconic Bournemouth family business, where better to do so than in an iconic Bournemouth family business?”

Stephen Bath told the audience how Bath Travel was founded by his grandfather Ernest in 1924. Stephen’s father, Peter, took over the business in 1954 and took it from one office to 67.

Bournemouth Echo: Peter 'PJ' Bath and his wife Liz on the beach at Magaluf in 1959Peter 'PJ' Bath and his wife Liz on the beach at Magaluf in 1959

Peter, known as PJ, started chartering aircraft to Mallorca in 1959 and later set up Palmair, which had its own Boeing 737.

He lived 10 minutes from what was then Hurn Airport and personally saw off the flights – eventually doing so 350 times a year and continuing until the year before he died in 2006.

“My father bribed me into joining the company in 1972. He offered me a three litre Capri and a set of flying lessons and this, that and the other,” Stephen Bath said.

“In my 40 years with the company I met almost every member of the Royal family.”

Bournemouth Echo: The Bath family with Concorde at Bournemouth AirportThe Bath family with Concorde at Bournemouth Airport

He told how his father tasked him with bringing Concorde to Dorset when Bournemouth Airport’s runway was extended in the 1990s.

Concorde’s first visit in April 1996 saw 25,000 people gather at the airport to watch the supersonic plane land and take off on a pleasure trip. It was flown by Mike Bannister, captain of the Concorde fleet, who had learned to fly in Bournemouth.

Although Concorde could make shorter trips from Bournemouth, it could not take off with the 95 tonnes of fuel necessary to fly to the US. So Stephen Bath negotiated permission to use Boscombe Down, the military airfield at Salisbury Plain, for flights to New York – taking three hours and 10 minutes.

Bournemouth’s airline closed in 2010, unable to compete with the low prices of the budget competitors. Stephen Bath said it was ironic that the “no frills” services had displaced Palmair, which was voted Britain’s best airline for 12 out of 17 years and, for three years, was named the best in the world for customer service and attention to detail.

In 2013, Bath Travel was sold to the UK’s largest independent travel agency, Hays Travel.

Elizabeth Bath, wife of Peter and mother of Stephen, died days before the launch of the video, at the age of 95.

The video, by Corin Messer and Andy Martin, will be followed by films about the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra in September and the Echo itself in October.