As people’s shopping habits change, Bournemouth town centre is undergoing a period of transformation - with many flagship shops closing or being redeveloped.

The Coastal Communities, Coastal Stories project will aim to recognise the architectural and community heritage of these spaces, and capture people’s memories of the high street to help inform future development.

The changing face of the high street

The covered walkway at the centre of Bournemouth's shopping arcade Bournemouth's Victorian shopping arcade

While the town centre’s retail spaces are naturally of concern to local businesses and the council, an equally important yet often overlooked element is the extent of the architectural and community heritage involved.

The project will explore what the high street has meant in the past and what people in the community want it to look like in the future, celebrating the high street and recognising its significance in peoples’ current-day lives as well as its importance to the history and heritage of Bournemouth.

Dr Kate Terkanian

Senior Lecturer in History

We want to explore what the loss of vibrant communal spaces means to those who live and work in the area, as well as the thousands of people who visit Bournemouth on an annual basis.

A creative approach

A row of yellow taxis in front of Bournemouth Square Bournemouth Square, located at the heart of Bournemouth's town centre

The project will encourage people of all ages to share their memories of the high street through a range of creative activities.These will include photography walks, oral history collection, and narrative-building workshops.

Memories collected during the project will be shared through pop-up exhibitions and public talks alongside walking trails featuring interviews and photography. They will also be kept in regional archives at the Dorset History Centre.