Here are some of the people you might have seen
walking down Charminster Road during the past eighty or so years.
1985 and 1991 film star Christian Bale lived in Capstone Road.
His next home was in the USA.
He was a pupil at Bournemouth School for Boys and
at the same time in 1987 managed to make his name at the age of
13 as the star of Stephen Spielberg's "Empire of the Sun".
In the film he plays an English boy who becomes
separated from his parents and subsequently finds himself lost
in a Japanese internment camp during World War II.
The role earned him widespread critical praise and
the first ever Best Performance by a Juvenile Actor
award from the National Board of Review of Motion Pictures. The
award was created especially for him.
The public attention proved extremely stressful
for an actor so young and he nearly gave it all up. He was persuaded
not to and in 1990 was playing Jim Hawkins with Charlton Heston
as Long John Silver in Treasure Island.
A string of more than forty films have followed
to make him one of Hollywood's top stars. Titles include The Prestige,
American Psycho, Equilibrium, 3:10 To Yuma, The Machinist, Batman
Begins, Harsh Times, The Dark Knight and Terminator Salvation.
Bale has won a string of international awards and
Entertainment Weekly has hailed him as one of the Top 8
Most Powerful Cult Figures of the Past Decade.
The Animal Man
writer and TV wildlife expert Gerald Durrell was born in 1925.
An unorthodox childhood took him and his family to settle in Corfu
during the 1930's and the threat of war forced them to return
to Bournemouth in 1939.
The familiy's principal residences
were 51 and 52 St Albans Avenue.
Durrell's expeditions to photograph
and collect animals from distant parts of the world began in the
1950's. Some specimens were brought back and given temporary residence
in the back garden of 51.
He eventually had some 400 animals
living in the garden and garage but his efforts to formally set
up a private zoo there met with rejection from the local council
- leading him to comment on the "the constipated mentality
of local government". At this point he looked further afield
and set up his zoo in Jersey.
Gerald's celebrated novelist
brother Laurence Durrell was a frequent visitor to St Alban's
Avenue and helped him develop his writing.
The back garden in St Albans Avenue
Apart from his animal and TV
work, Gerald was a prolific writer. Scenes and anecdotes from
Charminster feature in several of his books - including "The
Picnic and Suchlike Pandemonium" and "Marrying Off Mother
and Other Stories".
More tales of Charminster life
appear in "Whatever Happened to Margo? ", the book written
by his younger sister Margo about her years as a local landlady.
By the end of his life in 1995,
Gerald Durrell was internationally lauded.
Apart from receiving an OBE he
was named in the United Nations Roll of Honour for Environmental
Achievement and awarded the Dutch "Order of the Golden Ark"
Numerous organisations and institutions
around the world bear his name.
The Good Bad Man
actor Charles Gray - known for his portrayal of chilling characters
- was brought up in Queens Park and attended Bournemouth School.
Christened Donald Marshall Gray in 1928 he was smitten
by the bright lights from an early age and the walls of his bedroom
in 7 Howard Road were covered with pictures of film stars.
His first engagement was at the Bournemouth Little
Theatre which at that time was still in the Town Centre. He
worked initially as an estate agent, but left Bournemouth in the
late 1950's to become a professional actor. His parents spent
the rest of their lives in Howard Road.
Gray is famous for being probably the only actor
to have played both a goodie and a baddie in the James Bond Films.
He was the agent Henderson in "You Only Live Twice"
and the creepy Ernst Stavro Blofeld in "Diamonds are Forever".
Other notable roles were as the Narrator in "The Rocky Horror
Picture Show" and the satanist Mocata in the Hammer film
"The Devil Rides Out".
For a number of years, Gray provided the screen
voice for the actor Jack Hawkins who had lost his own after a
cancer operation. Gray himself died of cancer in 2000.
The Tragic Comic
Comedian Tony Hancock lived at two homes just outside Charminster
and Queens Park - and his first engagement as a comic was at a
Charminster social club.
In 1927, when he was three years old, his family
took over a laundry in what is now Strouden Road in Winton. A
year later they were running the Railway Hotel in Holdenhurst
Just before the outbreak of war in 1939 he failed
an audition for Willie Cave's Revels - a variety show that performed
on Bournemouth beach. He took a commercial skills course at Bournemouth
college in the autumn, then worked briefly for a tailor and also
for the Civil Service.
First gig - Avon Road Social Club
In 1940 he made his first professional appearance
as a comedian at the Avon Road Social Club. He was reportedly
not an overwhelming success. Called up and joining the RAF in
1942, he spent most of the war performing with Ralph Reader's
Hancock's career as a comedian really took off in
the 1950's with the popular radio show "Educating Archie"
and then with his own show "Hancock's Half Hour". Both
were listened to and enjoyed by millions.
With a subsequent string of films, television and
radio programmes he was one of the funniest and most successful
personalities of his generation.
But success did not bring him happiness. Dogged
by alcohol and depression he tragically ended his own life in
here for more about Hancock.
The War Hero Thriller Writer
Oliver Pollard lived for many years at Queens Park Gardens. His
adult life began with the real life terror of battle in the First
World War. The rest of his years were spent in writing a long
string of books that injected excitement into the lives of readers
- young and old alike.
At the age of 21 he was awarded the Military Cross
as a junior officer in the Honourable Artillery Company during
fighting near Ypres. A year later he won the Victoria Cross.
The citation reads: "Owing to heavy casualties
caused by enemy shellfire, the troops of various units to the
left of Second Lieutenant Pollard's Battalion had become disorganised
on 29th April, 1917 at the Gavrelle, France. A further enemy attack
only caused further confusion and retirement, and being closely
pressed by enemy forces. Realising the seriousness of the situation,
Second Lieutenant Pollard rushed up to put a halt to the retirement.
With only four men, he began a counterattack with bombs, pressing
it home, breaking the enemy and regaining all the ground that
had been lost: and much more in addition. The enemy sustained
many casualties as they retired in complete disorder. With his
lack of regard for danger, he instilled every man, who saw him,
After the war, Pollard went on to write around fifty
books. His own personal experiences are recorded in the book "Fire-Eater
- the Memoirs of a VC".
He died at his home in Queens Park Gardens on the
5th December 1960, aged 67. Click
here to read about the Charminster heroes.
Before the Angels
Benny Hill was evacuated to the area from Southampton in 1939.
He attended Bournemouth School for several months before embarking
on a career in show biz. Fellow scholars at the same time included
actor Charles Gray and David English who went on to be boss of
Benny described his host family as very kind and
said of school: "I never managed to reach the sixth form.
My general feeling about school days are that although I was never
classed as brainy, I certainly had fun. And I could always remember
what I wanted to remember. Who cares about 1066 and all that?"
Benny's show biz career was interrupted in 1942
when he was arrested by military police. Somehow he had always
managed to miss getting his call-up papers.
here to read more about Benny's time in the area.