Welcome to Bournemouth. Here are some somewhat dazzling facts to settle you in.
1. Winston Churchill almost died here. Not fighting a war, but as a teenager he fell 29 feet from a bridge in Branksome Dene during a game of chase. It took him three days to regain consciousness.
2. Tropical Bournemouth gets an average of 7.7 hours of sunshine a day during the summer. No wonder 4.7 million tourists visit each year.
3. If anyone dares to say, “Isn’t it full of old people there?” you can snappily retort: “Actually, Amanda Holden, Gareth Malone, Jamie Redknapp and Blur's Alex James are all rather famous Bournemouthians”.
4. We all know Bournemouth has lovely beaches, but did you know that according to TripAdvisor, Bournemouth is the fourth best beach in Europe.
5. We all know Bournemouth has lovely beach huts too, but did you know:
- In 1909, Bournemouth became the first place in England to have custom-made beach huts
- A beach hut in Bournemouth was the first in England to hold a civil ceremony
- England's most expensive beach hut (on beautiful Mudeford Spit) sold this year... a snip at £265,000
6. Bournemouth holds the record for the 'most people to shower simultaneously at a single venue'. This rather niche record was set in 2011 by 152 people on the beach under a huge specially built shower.
7. Good news for BA (Hons) English students – Bournemouth has been home to some legendary writers: JRR Tolkien, Enid Blyton, Mary Shelley... Start that novel.
8. The Beatles loved Bournemouth: in the early '60s, the Fab Four played more shows here than anywhere else in the UK outside of London.
9. The first mention of the town was in 1406 – a monk made a record of an 18-foot fish being washed up on the beach of 'La Bournemowthe"
10. Bournemouth started as a settlement of just one house and remained that way for 27 years. A wealthy merchant, Lewis Tregonwell, visited the beach with his wife. She loved it so much they set up home here, on their own for nearly three decades before someone else moved in.