BOBBY’S in Bournemouth has unveiled an “innovative and creative” design feature ahead of completion of the restoration work on the building later this year. 

The installation, in the beauty hall on the ground floor, is the work of designer and maker, Paul Bradburn. 

Paul is no stranger to working in unusual spaces having first met Ashley Nicholson, director of Verve Properties and the Bobby’s landlord, more than 20 years ago. 

In Bournemouth some years later, Paul was invited down by Ashley to take a look at his latest purchase The Avenue in Commercial Road to see what could be done to restore some of its former glory.  

Bournemouth Echo: The Avenue Bournemouth

“When I came down to see The Avenue it was very 80s,” he said.

“A huge expanse of dark glass overshadowing the high street with the big logo right in the middle.  

“It was in definite need of some attention. 

“I started by looking back at how it had been before, and I began piecing together what was there before the 1930s. This is the great thing about working with Ashley, he cares.  

“He’s very much a benevolent developer and wants to look after the buildings that make the town. He’s an excellent custodian.” 

Paul and his team worked on the restoration and rejuvenation of The Avenue building, ensuring where possible they took it back to its heyday as Bealsons.  

“There was a massive hole in the middle of the building where that Avenue logo had been, and after much deliberation we went for the steels with the living wall to replace it. We felt it added some modernity to the classic building in a fun and colourful way.” 

On receiving the keys for the old Debenhams building, Ashley called Paul down again to take a look at the shell as it was.  

“The priority was the Beauty Hall. Ashley didn’t want Bournemouth to have a big empty, closed building in the square, so it was all hands on deck to get the Beauty Hall ready to open ASAP. 

“I looked at the cavernous space, it looked tired, it looked like every other department store in the country, it didn’t look fun or enticing, it looked forgotten about and unloved.  

Bournemouth Echo: The Avenue in the 80sThe Avenue in the 80s (Image: PR)

“So, we worked on some bespoke pieces of furniture to introduce into the space, to turn it into a loved and cared for space.  

“And this, The Central Arcade, is the final piece to go in and makes the Beauty Hall complete.” 

He added: “This piece is all about creating a custom-made experience for Bobby’s customers.  

“Each piece of wood was hand-made and veneered, and the lighting has been designed to complement and enhance the experience.  

“This is interior architecture, it’s a sculpture, a piece of art, it’s designed to make you feel something.” 

“I hope shoppers enjoy visiting the space as much as we enjoyed making it, that’s the whole essence of Bobby’s after all, bringing it to life with a bit of added extra sparkle.”