Silicon Beach Bomo - Orientation Guide | Westbourne Urban Village

Now billing itself as an ‘Urban Village’ and ‘Foodie Heaven’, Westbourne seems to have everything - except the proverbial village green.

Westbourne has evolved into its present form probably because it is just out of walking distance from the town centre for most residents of the south-western side of town. Westbourne now styles itself as an ‘Urban Village’. It’s the urban equivalent of a large village (in terms of variety of shops and restaurants) or small market town, where you would go to do your weekly ‘shop’, have a meal, post a parcel, take your library books back, fill your prescription etc.

If you do want to walk to it from downtown, the road route is busy with traffic, but you can walk up the Central Gardens a mile or so until Prince Of Wales Road crosses it, then walk up the hill and through the railway bridge/ Wessex Way motorway underpass, turning left up into the large car park behind the shops - there is an alley by the public toilets leading onto the main shopping parade near NatWest. There are a couple of footpath variants to this route, via various snickets up from the Gardens, but they are not really shortcuts. (If driving, the route via Prince Of Wales Road also takes you in the back way, to two municipal car parks. The 3rd is off Alumhurst Rd, behind The Libertine restaurant.)
Alternatively, you can walk to or from downtown along the seafront between the pierhead and Alum Chine (by Vesuvio Italian restaurant). The northern end of its leafy footpaths is on Westcliff Rd near the site of the 1880s home of author Robert Louis Stevenson, after whom a local avenue is named. You can then head use that or neighbouring Alum Chine Rd past Westbourne Library, both of which intersect with Seamoor Rd. The nearest rail station is Branksome, a mile to the W.

 

Poole Road, looking west past the Baptist church where local residents go to vote, left, and what used to be the Grand Cinema [a favourite of director Ken Russell] before it became a bingo hall, right. The road becomes a one-way system beyond the traffic lights, with traffic flow clockwise. This is the start of Westbourne when you approach along the main road / bus route from downtown Bournemouth.

The fact that a crescent links the two ends of the main commercial block on Poole Rd has allowed a clockwise one-way system to be set up, to reduce traffic jams this narrower more northerly arm is prone to. (Poole Rd is otherwise the main road east-west, so the one-way system creates a traffic bypass for westbound vehicles.)

Its amenities are thus spread around a loop shaped like a letter D lying on its right-hand side, with the curved side on the bottom. The surrounding area is residentially zoned, so businesses are confined to the loop. You can do a reconnaissance walk around the loop in 15 minutes, if you don’t get sidetracked by attractions en route.

There must now be nearly 40 cafes, brasseries, bars etc. Westbourne has been promoting itself as ‘Foodie Heaven’ for the variety of possibilities there – Greek, Italian, Indian, Turkish, American-style, vegetarian etc., with an annual summer 'foodfest' type promo event backed by a local radio station. Looking at these in terms of being potential working environments for checking emails, networking with colleagues and peers, etc, there must be a score of possibilities.

In terms of places to sit and work, there are a growing number of cafes and bistros, many with outdoor seating, often out back, which is quieter. [Note - Zoukini's is now called Amala].

 

Westbourne has over 250 businesses, including at least three dozen eateries. Be aware that with so many rival establishments, there is a regular 'churn', and online guides like Google Maps and Wikipedia as well as printed guidebooks are likely to be out of date. (Badger & Bumble, the Doghouse Café next to M&S and Fratelli La Bufala are all gone, with The Dancing Duck springing up on the latter’s site, next to Starbucks). Nevertheless, some restaurants continue to appear online, leading a phantom existence on Google Maps.


Above: the old, the new and the transient - an example of Westbourne evolving. The 'Creative Hub' at left, now vacant, was an attempt to use the site of a former Blockbuster video-rental store as a shared space for arts and crafts. Next to it, The Taj Mahal, Bournemouth's first Indian restaurant, in business for 53 years, is [the signboard outside announces] now under new management. Next to that is the Village Bistro, a new cafe. Off to the right is the Grand Cinema, which survives as a bingo hall. Out of shot to the left is a Methodist church which is now part Tesco Express and part restaurant, across from a corner bistro in a converted bank building spruced up inside by Daliesque murals.

Unlike its country equivalents, Westbourne doesn’t have a village green or market square as its centre, but it does have an arcade through its middle, dating back to Victorian times. This has a mix of shops, plus a café, a relatively new Turkish restaurant [Someretto, also open eves], and a boutique 19-seat basement mini-cinema [Lavish Life’s ironically named Bournemouth Colosseum].

It has an ornate glass roof, recently [2010-14] restored after it became leaky. If you look up near the entrance you will see its upper works are guarded by a carved owl, there to scare away pigeons from nesting or perching there.

“Westbourne has some of Bournemouth's most upmarket fashionable shops and restaurants gathered round a fine Victorian arcade.” -The Rough Guide To Dorset
The Terrace Cafe

The advantage of the Arcade is the outside seating year-round in all weathers, where you can watch the world go by etc. At the moment there is The Terrace Cafe for that [daytime only], and the Turkish restaurant Someretto is also open for breakfast and lunch.

Left: Meals inside and outside at the Terrace cafe in the Arcade

An Introductory Tour
Going around clockwise from the Arcade’s north exit [pictured], almost opposite on the far side is Circo Lounge restaurant, which has a sundeck out back, and along to your right is an entire row of cafes. Many of these have a small table or two outside. After Chocol8 with its bright pink façade is – side by side - Renoufs Cheese & Wine/Charcuterie [weekday eves only], Le Petit Prince [patisserie and café], Baffi Pizza, and on the corner, Coffee Club Restaurant, a Mediterranean café and brasserie, with outside seating on the main and facing side road [Landseer Rd]. (Several other cafes on this block still listed online seem to have gone, no doubt due to the close competion.)

Across the side road, in the former Methodist church [the main part of which is now a Tesco Express], is Plates & Co, an upstairs dining room which has a outside seating area dubbed ‘The Vicars Garden’ below, on the side road, with a "Latin Garden" in summer.

Just farther E on Poole Rd, next to what used to be the Grand Cinema, is The Taj Mahal (Bournemouth's original Indian restaurant). Next to it is the Village Bistro, a new cafe [closed mid-afternoons]. Opposite the Westcliff Baptist church is The Westbourne pub, a long-established local, a recently-refurbished sports bar with a large area of picnic-bench seating stretching around the corner outside (note that the junction is always busy traffic-wise).

Far left: Westbourne Pub
Near left: Coffee Club brunch

Zoukinis Spanish Taste tapas restaurantTurning south, the side road [Alum Chine Rd] beyond the bus stop leads to Westbourne Library [closed Weds], which has a few easy chairs for reading newspapers etc., a bookable meeting room and a row of computers. On the S side of the crescent is the local post office and beyond, an award-winning fish’n chip shop [Chez Fred, now refurbished], a vegan restaurant [Amala, previously Zoukinis, with a semi-covered outside seating area down the side alley].

Across the road are Ginjam's [bar with continental food] and Indi’s [Indian restaurant]. (The other Indian restaurant, Indian Moment and the similarly named Chinese one, Tasty Moment, are both takeaways.) Just beyond the Arcade’s southerly exit is a boutique tearoom [Dot Teas]. Continuing along that side of the road is Spanish Taste tapas restaurant (where Cafe Fresco Juice Bar used to be, with outdoor seating front and side) and Foodtopia cafe. Farther along is Café Rouge French-style café-bistro, just refurbished. Next to Costa Coffee is Cotea [cafe].

Left: Amala [formerly Zoukinis] vegan restaurant
Right:
Spanish Taste tapas restaurant

On the southerly side of the Seamoor Rd crescent are Westbourne Tandoori and Camden (a new lounge bar, where Eau de Vie stood). Just next to it, in the former Hogshead pub premises on the corner with Alumhurst Rd, is The Libertine, an upmarket restaurant [pictured below]. The latter has what it calls ‘snugs and cosy corners’ inside plus a heated outside dining area. (Meetdraw once booked the whole place for one of their getogethers of programmers etc.)
Beyond the 3-way junction is the M&S foodstore is Coffee Saloon, part of a small chain.
Returning to Poole Rd at the western end of the crescent, this briefly continues W where there are handful of eateries, near the EFL school. Right on the corner is The Porterhouse, a small local pub on the corner. On the south side are Piggies café and The Red Bakehouse [a bakeshop with 2 tables]. (Pizza Pino in between is a takeaway, and Enzo's restaurant just beyond has closed after many years.) Across the road on the northerly side is MiYa Japanese restaurant [where Geneve Eatery was]. Opposite, at the far end towards the Poole boundary gyratory, is the latest addition, Le Beyti, a Turkish / Mediterranean restaurant.
Left: [1] Dot Teas and [mouse-over] [2] Le Beyti.

Poole Road is blocked to through traffic except buses at the County Gates gyratory system to the W, which marks the boundary with Poole (formerly with Dorset, hence the name). There, Barclays corporate division has a new "Maker Space," a lab-style workspace-for-hire, with 3D printers, laser cutters as well as an events space, aimed at start-up businesses working on the hardware/manufacturing side.
Heading E back down Poole Rd to complete the overall circuit back to the Arcade are The Dancing Duck [bar and restaurant with rear sundeck], and Woosters Of Westbourne cafe next to the former NatWest site [branch closed Oct 2017]. On the south side past Pizza Express are a long-standing Greek restaurant (Romanzo Greek Taverna) and equally venerable Patisserie Angelique [which has outside seating in the back].
This brings us back again to Circo Lounge nearly opposite the entrance to the Arcade.

Right: The Libertine

Circo Lounge Coffee Club

Click on above map-image for interactive Google Maps original [satellite photo version]
Disclaimer: This site has no connection whatsoever with any local authority or official body.  | Return to Top |   Return to Home Page