IT'S no secret residents are unhappy with some elements of Bournemouth.

Whether the complaints are about overcrowding, closed shops or overflowing bins, some areas in our community can't get a break.

One area that doesn't seem to suffer that problem is Westbourne.

Talk to anyone from the BCP area and rarely will a bad word ever be uttered about the community nestled between Branksome and the town centre.

It has literary connections - Robert Louis Stevenson was a former famous resident - and was reportedly the site of the town's first Indian restaurant.

The area scores highly in a Tripadvisor poll of the best things to do in Bournemouth (no prizes for guessing number one...) and we wanted to find out why.

The Echo took a visit to speak to those who know the area best to find out what makes it a popular alternative to elsewhere in the conurbation. 

The Traders

Westbourne is home to a variety of boutiques, thrift stores, cafes, restaurants, and even a small cinema. 

Many of the shops are filled by independent traders, who offer unique and bespoke products.

Bournemouth Echo: Victoria Lewis, owner of Such a Beautiful DayVictoria Lewis, owner of Such a Beautiful Day (Image: NQ)

Victoria Lewis, who owns the shop Such a Beautiful Day, said: “Westbourne has a nice atmosphere. Lots of people are coming here.

“It’s attracting people that want one off, unique and individual places, that are just not the run of the mill.

“Independent and handmade, and supporting local businesses, communities and makers - that’s what we’re about.”

On why she wanted to open a store in Westbourne, Victoria said: “We walked through Westbourne, and we saw that this [unit] was to let.

“We went for a cup of tea in Moka Pot [in Westbourne] it was absolutely buzzing at 10.30am on a Tuesday morning, we thought 'wouldn’t that be lovely?'.”

Victoria also likened Westbourne to “going back to old times”, with shop owners knowing the names of their customers and regulars.

Bournemouth Echo: Justin Brandon, owner of Scape Interiors WestJustin Brandon, owner of Scape Interiors West (Image: NQ)

Justin Brandon, who owns Scape Interiors West, said: “During the premier days when Bournemouth was a thriving Victorian holiday resort, they said that Westbourne was a jewel in Bournemouth’s crown.

“In this area there were lots of different independent trades people that came here to set up shop.

“Now, it's morphed, and it has grown into an area where there’s mostly independent businesses and shops, and a lot of them design their products in house.

“One could compare it to the lanes in Brighton.”

Justin has been running his shop in Westbourne since 2008.

He said: “We’ve built up a lot of loyal customers over the last 16 years, because we’ve tried to offer them something that they can’t buy anywhere else, not even online.”

He concluded: “Westbourne is certainly a good place to come, even if you just wanted to come and meet someone, have lunch, have a coffee, have a wander around.”

Bournemouth Echo: AtticoAttico (Image: NQ)

Cesca Haskins, who owns the store Attico, said many shoppers “come to Westbourne specifically to buy from the independent buyers”.

She added: “Certainly with mine, we’ve created a destination.

“I’ve got people that come from Wareham, Christchurch. We’re very lucky, we’ve got lovely customers.

“There’s lots of unique and independent shops here.”

The Residents

Westbourne's location between Bournemouth and Poole has made it an attractive place for people to rent or buy.

The Westbourne and West Cliff ward had a recorded population of 10,318 in the 2021 Census.

Bournemouth Echo: WestbourneWestbourne (Image: NQ)

Here's what some of the residents had to say:

Barry Cottrell said: "I like the little hardware shop in the arcade, my wife loves the independent clothes shops. We both enjoy the cafés. It's just the nicest place for everything."

Jackie Howchin said: "I feel so lucky to live in Westbourne. It really does have a village atmosphere, and it's fab to support the independent shops, who all know you and say 'hi' when you walk in.

"Westbourne has pretty much everything you need for shopping, from clothing to gifts to food, and the coffee shops and eateries are brilliant.

"I love that we still have some really old businesses who have been here for many years, and are so well supported."

Kirstie Horgan said: "I absolutely love Westbourne. There are essential shops, lovely restaurants, bars, coffee shops, hairdressers, chine and beach all walkable.

"I can walk my dog late at night and feel safe."

James Mawson said: "Westbourne has a village atmosphere coupled with a village sense of togetherness where people will say good morning, and stop to talk."

Ann McGrath, 81, said: "We’ve lived in Westbourne for four years and the positives outweigh the negatives.

"I can walk to Westbourne in less than 10 minutes, go to the seafront, walk in beautiful gardens and in easy reach of places due to a good bus service.

"I met a couple in a local coffee establishment who were thinking of moving here, I said 'you’ll love it'."

The Shoppers

With a mix of retail chains and independent traders, plus free parking in areas, many shoppers choose Westbourne as their place to browse and spend. 

Bournemouth Echo:

Sarah Flett, 38, said she enjoys the "unique" shops on offer in Westbourne.

She said: "I bring my mum here, we can shop for hours. It's very different to other places - all the shops are still open, and they're different.

"You've got the parking here as well. If we're just coming in for an hour we can usually park for free. I think some places are one hour free parking, and then some are two."

Phil and Sian Madsen enjoy visiting Westbourne for one of its bakeries, and choose to visit over other areas of town.

Phil said: "There isn't litter, and the shops are all open."

Sian added: "We will only go into Bournemouth [town centre] if it is absolutely essential."

Another shopper, Lesley, enjoys visiting Westbourne for one of her favourite boutiques, Attico.

She joked: "When I come to Westbourne, I know I'll end up spending."


Councillors John Beesley and David d'Orton-Gibson look after the Westbourne and West Cliff ward.

Bournemouth Echo: Westbourne and West Cliff ward councillor John BeesleyWestbourne and West Cliff ward councillor John Beesley (Image: BCP Council)

Cllr John Beesley said Westbourne is a "very special place" which has "prospered" whilst "some other places have declined".

He told the Daily Echo: "The range of shops, restaurants, cafes and essentials such as the Post Office, Westbourne Library and the various food stores mean that it is a great destination, in which locals and visitors really enjoy spending their time.

"It is of course on the main bus route, and with plenty of parking for those who do not live nearby or cannot walk far, it is truly accessible and well worth a visit.

"The local community plays a very active part in making Westbourne so attractive, especially in the Arcade which is a shopping destination in its own right.

"Locally of course, Westbourne Rotary and the Coastal BID have made a huge difference to how it al looks, and it is hoped that the Westbourne Business Association can bring the business community together even more successfully in the future."

On his involvement with Westbourne, Cllr Beesley said: "I am in Westbourne almost every day and always look forward to going, at the same time making sure that the council is doing what residents and local businesses expect and to keep the place up to scratch.

"As local councillors, David and I are happy to help and play our part as we know how important Westbourne is to the local economy and for those who come to shop, eat and drink there throughout the year."


Bournemouth Echo: Bournemouth MP Conor BurnsBournemouth MP Conor Burns (Image: NQ)

Bournemouth MP Conor Burns is a fan of Westbourne's offerings. He said: "Westbourne is a thriving, bustling, and diverse, rebuke to the notion that retail is dead.

"People come to Westbourne because the lovely range of outlets from core things to boutique gift and food places.

"It has a charm that is enjoyed not just by locals like me but from people around the area seeing it as a destination of choice."

The Rotary Club 

Westbourne Rotary is a busy rotary club involved in not only the local community but any where help is needed and is able to be given. 

The club has two floral boats in prominent positions in Westbourne and many business partners amongst the Westbourne shops and restaurants.

Bournemouth Echo: Local boys helping the rotary club to clear and tidy the boats in Westbourne as part of their Duke of Edinburgh Bronze AwardLocal boys helping the rotary club to clear and tidy the boats in Westbourne as part of their Duke of Edinburgh Bronze Award (Image: Westbourne Rotary Club)

A spokesperson for Westbourne Rotary said: "Our club was named Westbourne as the original talks to start a rotary club actually took place in Westbourne. 

"Our meetings are held locally and although some of our members are from other areas, they all feel very positive and at home in Westbourne. 

"It is a charming area and the arcade is central to this, with its cafes and shopping.   

"We have a good number of business partners in Westbourne, who help support our club through donations, enabling us to buy equipment and put on events, which provides an opportunity to raise funds and help more charities. 

"Some help us by volunteering and giving us their time. "Our rotary club is very much part of the Westbourne community and we have a great sense of belonging."

What do you think about Westbourne? Let us know by emailing