FOR more than half a century, Bournemouth’s bus and coach station served as the hub for countless journeys. The place where journeys, adventures and tales began and ended.

This large building dominated the Exeter Road end of town, and today’s BH2 leisure complex sits on its site.

The splendid Portland stone building opened in 1931, easing congestion in the town centre and providing proper facilities for the many passengers who had been catching buses and coaches in Bournemouth Square.

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The Royal Blue coaches would now enter the underground station via a ramp, while buses would climb a slope.

The station took 14 months to build and 30,000 people visited it when it opened for inspection on March 7, 1931.

Bournemouth Echo: Bus station pictures.

However, as the Hants & Dorset bus company expanded rapidly, the station’s facilities became overcrowded before long, and it was expanded southward in 1937.

The previous roof was demolished and two additional storeys were added in 1958, allowing for offices and a cafe with a panoramic view of the Lower Gardens.

Bournemouth Echo: Bus station pictures.

Further development lay ahead for the 1960s and 1970s before a fire broke out In the early hours of Sunday, July 25, 1976.

These pictures were taken before the fire and of the aftermath.

Bournemouth Echo: