THE open space called Fisherman’s Walk has been celebrating the centenary of its opening.

It has a much earlier history, of course.

Ever since Holdenhurst existed, at least 1,000 years ago, some of the menfolk would have struck due south to catch the then plentiful fish in Poole Bay. They would have mainly used a well-won track – hence ‘Fisherman’s Walk’ – to a vestigial chine called Sandy Hollow which allowed easy access to the beach.

Later generations may have engaged in smuggling along the same route.

By the turn of the 20th century, the growing population of Bournemouth was looking to more leisured pursuits.

Four large parks were created further to the west as a result of the Five Parks Act, but Southbourne was missing out.

In 1906, the council was being implored by a Dr Burge to create a public park before housing development swallowed up any meaningful space. The densely-planted pine woods created by Sir George Tapps a century ago along the coastal area, were already being bulldozed.

Eventually, a strip of land of some five acres was secured from Lord Portman next to the old fishermen’s track.

From it, the district surveyor, Edward Ingamells, designed a linear park to be called New Fisherman’s Walk.

It was formally opened by the mayor of Bournemouth, Alderman Dr Henry McCalmont Hill, on Monday May 26 1913 with the dedication for its “use of the inhabitants of Bournemouth forever”.

Ribbons were cut at each of its five entrances, and the Municipal Military Band played popular selections at the central circle, which had to wait another dozen years before a bandstand was built there.

The park really consisted of a few serpentine walks between dense woodland and bracken hemmed in by chestnut palings.

It was rather claustrophobic but proved popular as a route to the sea for both residents and visitors. They were often treated en route to free musical presentations by a variety of bands and concert parties like the Wraggle Taggles.

A lift opposite Fisherman’s Walk became operational on June 8 1935, which provided yet another attraction to the area, giving easier access to the beach.

In 1937, the southern end of the walk was furnished with a rest garden with beautiful flower beds and a sunken area containing a fish pond.

Another rival grandstand was built on the other side of the newly laid out Overcliff Drive.

However, with the onset of the Second World War, access to the beach was limited. Various brass bands still played in the park, including a visit by the Czechoslovak Army Band.

Whilst the trees of the park were initially mainly pines, these were gradually replaced by deciduous trees. Sweet chestnut is now the dominant species.

The internal fencing was removed around 1950; bracken may have been removed but rhododendrons became rife.

In 1996, the council tried to reverse the general decline within a Gardens of Excellence programme.

Part of this was reducing the understorey and some trees. There was much opposition to these proposals. The council again came under attack in 2006 for allowing a phone mast to be installed on the site. This time the protest ended up with the setting up of a Friends group whose aim was to work proactively with the council.

Since that time, the Friends have held many social and conservation events in the park, encouraging a greater appreciation of the place.