Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Poole: Dorset



Poole is a large coastal town and seaport in Dorset on the south coast of England. The town is 32 kilometres (20 mi) east of Dorchester, and Bournemouth adjoins Poole to the east. The Borough of Poole was made a unitary authority in 1997, gaining administrative independence from Dorset County Council. The town had a population of 138,288 according to the 2001 census, making it the second largest settlement in Dorset.
Human settlement in the area dates back to before the Iron Age. The earliest recorded use of the town’s name was in the 12th century when the town began to emerge as an important port, prospering with the introduction of the wool trade. In later centuries the town had important trade links with North America and at its peak in the 18th century it was one of the busiest ports in Britain. During the Second World War the town was one of the main departing points for the D-Day landings of the Normandy Invasion.
Poole is a tourist resort, attracting visitors with its large natural harbour, history, the Poole Arts Centre and award-winning beaches. The town has a busy commercial port with cross-Channel freight and passenger ferry services. The headquarters of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI), luxury yacht manufacturer Sunseeker, and Merlin Entertainments are located in Poole, and the Royal Marines have a base in the town's harbour. Poole is home to Bournemouth University, The Arts Institute at Bournemouth and the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra.

History

The Poole Logboat, a 2000 year old monoxylon discovered during dredging works in Poole Harbour.

The town's name derives from a corruption of the Celtic word bol and the Old English word pool meaning a place near a pool or creek. Variants include Pool, Pole, Poles, Poll, Polle, Polman, and Poolman. The area around modern Poole has been inhabited for the past 2,500 years. During the 3rd century BC, Celts known as the Durotriges moved from hilltop settlements at Maiden Castle and Badbury Rings to heathland around the River Frome and Poole Harbour. The Romans landed at Poole during their conquest of Britain in the 1st century and took over an Iron Age settlement at Hamworthy, an area just west of the modern town centre. In Anglo-Saxon times, Poole was included in the Kingdom of Wessex. The settlement was used as a base for fishing and the harbour a place for ships to anchor on their way to the River Frome and the important Anglo-Saxon town of Wareham. Poole experienced two large-scale Viking invasions during this era: in 876, Guthrum sailed his fleet through the harbour to attack Wareham, and in 1015, Canute began his conquest of England in Poole Harbour, using it as a base to raid and pillage Wessex.
Following the Norman conquest of England, Poole rapidly grew into a busy port as the importance of Wareham declined. The town was part of the manor of Canford, but does not exist as an identifiable entry in the Doomsday Book. The earliest written mention of Poole occurred on a document from 1196 describing the newly built St James's Chapel in 'La Pole'. The Lord of the Manor, Sir William Longspée, sold a charter of liberties to the burgesses of Poole in 1248 to raise funds for his participation in the Seventh Crusade. Consequently, Poole gained a small measure of freedom from feudal rule and acquired the right to appoint a mayor and hold a court within town. Poole's growing importance was recognised in 1433 when it was awarded Staple port status by King Henry VI, enabling the port to begin exporting wool and in turn granting a license for the construction of a town wall. In 1568, Poole gained further autonomy when it was granted legal independence from Dorset and made a county corporate by the Great Charter of Elizabeth I. During the English Civil War, Poole's puritan stance and its merchant's opposition to ship money tax introduced by King Charles I, led to the town declaring for Parliament. Poole escaped any large-scale attack and with the Royalists on the brink of defeat in 1646, the Parliamentary garrison from Poole laid siege to and captured the nearby Royalist stronghold at Corfe Castle.

Beech Hurst in the town centre, a Georgian mansion built in 1798 for a wealthy Newfoundland merchant.

Poole established successful commerce with the North American colonies in the 16th century, including the important fisheries of Newfoundland. The trade with Newfoundland grew steadily to meet the demand for fish from the Catholic countries of Europe. Poole's share of this trade varied but the most prosperous period started in the early 18th century and lasted until the early 19th century. The trade was a three-cornered route; ships sailed to Newfoundland with salt and provisions, then carried dried and salted fish to Europe before returning to Poole with wine, olive oil, and salt. By the early 18th century Poole had more ships trading with North America than any other English port and vast wealth was brought to Poole's merchants. This prosperity supported much of the development which now characterises the Old Town; many of the medieval buildings were replaced with Georgian mansions and terraced housing.

Poole Quay front and Museum

The end of the Napoleonic Wars and the conclusion of the War of 1812 ended Britain's monopoly over the Newfoundland fisheries and other nations took over services provided by Poole's merchants at a lower cost. Poole's Newfoundland trade rapidly declined and within a decade most merchants had ceased trading.




Poole Quay was the busy centre of the town's maritime trade, 1900

The town grew rapidly during the industrial revolution as urbanisation took place and the town became an area of mercantile prosperity and overcrowded poverty. At the turn of the 19th century, nine out of ten workers were engaged in harbour activities, but as the century progressed ships became too large for the shallow harbour and the port lost business to the deep water ports at Liverpool, Southampton and Plymouth.

Poole Railway runs through the middle of the High Street and all pedestrians stop for the train to pass.

Poole's first railway station opened in Hamworthy in 1847 and later extended to the centre of Poole in 1872, effectively ending the port's busy coastal shipping trade. The beaches and landscape of southern Dorset and south-west Hampshire began to attract tourists during the 19th century and the villages to the east of Poole began to grow and merge until the seaside resort of Bournemouth emerged. Although Poole did not become a resort like many of its neighbours, it continued to prosper as the rapid expansion of Bournemouth created a large demand for goods manufactured in Poole.
During World War II, Poole was the third largest embarkation point for D-Day landings of Operation Overlord, and afterwards served as a base for supplies to the allied forces in Europe. Eighty-one landing craft containing American troops from the 29th Infantry Division and the U.S. Army Rangers departed Poole Harbour for Omaha Beach. Poole was also an important centre for the development of Combined Operations and the base for a U.S. Coast Guard rescue flotilla of 60 cutters. Much of the town suffered from German bombing during the war and years of neglect in the post-war economic decline. Major redevelopment projects began in the 1950s and 1960s when large areas of slum properties were demolished and replaced with modern public housing and facilities. Many of Poole's historic buildings were demolished during this period, particularly in the Old Town area of Poole. Consequently, a 6-hectare (15-acre) Conservation Area was created in the town centre in 1975 to preserve Poole's most notable building

Geography
Poole is located on the shores of the English Channel and lies on the northern and eastern sides of Poole Harbour, 179 kilometres (111 mi) west-southwest of London, at 50°43′N 1°59′W / 50.72°N 1.98°W / 50.72; -1.98. The oldest part of the town (including the historic Old Town, Poole Quay and the Dolphin Shopping Centre) lies to the south-east of Holes Bay on a peninsula jutting into the harbour, although much of the land to the east of the peninsula has been reclaimed from the harbour since the mid 20th century. To the west is Upton and Corfe Mullen and across the northern border at the River Stour lies Wimborne Minster. At the eastern edge of Poole, the town abuts Bournemouth and the settlements of Kinson, Winton and Westbourne. To the south of Poole along the coast lies Poole Bay, featuring 4.8 kilometres (3.0 mi) of sandy beaches from Sandbanks in the west to Bournemouth in the east.

Urban areas and districts of the town
Poole is made up of numerous suburbs and neighbourhoods, many of which developed from villages or hamlets that were absorbed into Poole as the town grew. Alderney - Bearwood - Branksome - Branksome Park - Broadstone - Canford Cliffs - Canford Heath - Creekmoor - Fleetsbridge - Hamworthy - Lilliput - Longfleet - Merley - Newtown - Oakdale - Parkstone - Penn Hill - Sandbanks - Sterte - Talbot Village - Wallisdown - Waterloo

Poole lies on Eocene clays

The natural environment of Poole is characterised by lowland heathland to the north and wooded chines and coastline to the south. The heathland habitat supports the six native British reptile species and provides a home for a range of dragonflies and rare birds. Development has destroyed much of the heath but scattered fragments remain to the north of Poole and have been designated Special Protection Areas. The town lies on unresistant Tertiary beds of Eocene clays (mainly London Clay and Gault Clay), sands and gravels. The River Frome runs through this weak rock, and its many tributaries have carved out a wide estuary. At the mouth of the estuary sand spits have been deposited, enclosing the estuary to create Poole Harbour.
The harbour is the largest natural harbour in Europe and the claimant of the title of second largest natural harbour in the world after Sydney Harbour. It is an area of international importance for nature conservation and is noted for its ecology, supporting salt marshes, mudflats and an internationally important habitat for several species of migrating bird. It has been designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), a Special Protection Area and a Ramsar site as well as falling within an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The harbour covers an area of 38 square kilometres (15 sq mi) and is extremely shallow: although the main shipping channels are 7.5 metres (25 ft) deep the average depth of the harbour is 48 centimetres (1.6 ft). It contains several small islands, the largest is Brownsea Island, a nature reserve owned by the National Trust and the birthplace of the Scouting movement and location of the first Scout Camp. Britain's largest onshore oil field operates from Wytch Farm on the south shore of the harbour. The oil reservoirs extend under the harbour and eastwards from Sandbanks and Studland for 10 kilometres (6.2 mi) under the sea to the south of Bournemouth.
Situated directly to the east of the Jurassic Coast, Poole is a gateway town to the UNESCO World Heritage Site, which includes 153 kilometres (95 mi) of the Dorset and east Devon coast important for its geology, landforms and rich fossil record. The South West Coast Path stretches for 1,014 kilometres (630 mi) from Minehead in Somerset, along the coast of Devon and Cornwall and on to Poole. The path is the United Kingdom's longest national trail at 1,014 kilometres (630 mi).

A panorama of Poole town centre viewed from Parkstone

Landmarks

Poole Quay, once a busy centre of maritime trade, has become increasingly popular with tourists.

Poole Quay is a visitor attraction to the south of the Old Town, lined with a mixture of traditional public houses, redeveloped warehouses, modern apartment blocks and historic listed buildings. Once the busy centre of Poole's maritime industry, all port activities moved to Hamworthy in the 1970s as the Quay became increasingly popular with tourists.

The Grade II* listed Customs House on the quay-front was built in 1814 and now functions as a restaurant and bar.

Nearby is the Grade I listed Town Cellars, a medieval warehouse built in the 15th century on the foundations of a 14th century stone building, and now home to the local history centre. Scalpen's Court, another Grade I listed building on the quay, also dates from the medieval era. The Poole Pottery production factory once stood on the eastern end of the Quay but the site was redeveloped into a luxury apartment block and marina in 2001, although an outlet store remains on the site. Boats regularly depart from the quay during the summer and provide cruises around the harbour and to Brownsea Island, the River Frome and Swanage. Public artworks along the Quay include ‘Sea Music’ – a large metal sculpture designed by Sir Anthony Caro – and a life-size bronze sculpture of Robert Baden-Powell created to celebrate the founding of the Scout Movement. At the western end of the quay near the mouth of Holes Bay is Poole Bridge. Built in 1927, it is the third bridge to be located on the site since 1834.

The Guildhall, built in 1761, functions as a Register Office.

The Guildhall is one of Poole's iconic buildings and has played an important and varied part in the history of the town. Now a Grade II* listed building, the Guildhall was built in 1761 at a cost of £2,250. The new building included an open market house on the ground floor and a courtroom and offices for the town council on the first floor. The building has also been used as a Court of Record, Magistrates' Court, Court of Admiralty and a venue for Quarter Sessions. Between 1819 and 1821 the building was consecrated as a Parish Church while the old St. James Church was pulled down and replaced with the present church.
During the Second World War the building was used as a canteen and meeting room for American soldiers prior to the invasion of France. The showers and washing facilities installed at this time were later converted into public baths which were used until the 1960s. The building was converted for use as the town museum between 1971 and 1991 but stood empty for the next 16 years. After a renovation project funded by Poole Borough Council, the restored Guildhall opened in June 2007 as a Register Office for weddings, civil partnerships and other civic ceremonies.

Poole Park
Poole has several urban parks – the largest is Poole Park adjacent to Poole Harbour and the town centre. The park opened in 1890 and is one of two Victorian parks in Poole. Designated a Conservation Area in 1995 and awarded a Green Flag in 2008, the park comprises of 44.3 hectares (109 acres) of which 24 hectares (59 acres) include the park's man-made lake and ponds. The park contains two children's play areas, tennis courts, a bowling green and a miniature golf course. A cricket field and pavilion at the eastern end are home to Poole Town Cricket Club and water sport activities such as sailing, windsurfing, kayaking and rowing take place on the large lake. A war memorial stands in the centre of the park as a monument to Poole citizens killed during the First and Second World Wars. A £2 million refurbishment of the park in 2006 involved the construction of an Italian restaurant and an indoor ice rink for children. The park hosts several road races such as the Race for Life and the Poole Festival of Running which attracted approximately 1,200 entrants in 2008.

Beaches

Poole Bay and the beaches of Poole and Bournemouth

Poole's sandy beaches are a popular tourist destination extending 4.8 kilometres (3.0 mi) along Poole Bay from the Sandbanks peninsular to Branksome Dene Chine at the border with Bournemouth.



Branksome Chine

The beaches are divided into four areas: Sandbanks, Shore Road, Canford Cliffs Chine and Branksome Chine.

Poole's beaches have been awarded the European Blue Flag for cleanliness and safety 21 times since 1987, more than any other British seaside resort. In 2000, the Tidy Britain Group resort survey rated Poole's beaches among the top five in the country. Along the seafront there are seaside cafés, restaurants, beach huts and numerous water-sports facilities. Royal National Lifeboat Institution Beach Rescue lifeguards patrol the coastline in the busy summer season between May and September.

Religious sites

The Parish Church of St. James, built in 1819.

Poole falls within the Church of England Diocese of Salisbury and the Roman Catholic Diocese of Plymouth. Poole has many sites of Christian worship including five Grade II* and five Grade II listed churches, but no notable sites of worship for any other major religious groups. The Grade II* St James' Church is a simplified Gothic Revival style Church of England parish church in the Old Town which was rebuilt in 1820. The previous church on the site was first mentioned in documents from 1142 and had been extensively rebuilt in the 16th century, but in 1819 it was deemed structurally unsafe by a surveyors report. The United Reformed Church hall, also in the town centre, is a Grade II* building built in 1777.

The other Grade II* churches are: St. Peters Parish Church in Parkstone which was first built in 1833 and replaced in 1876; St. Osmunds Church, also in Parkstone, is a Byzantine style building, formerly an Anglican church it became a Romanian Orthodox Church in 2005; and the Parish Church of St. Aldhelm in Branksome, built by the architects Bodley and Garner in 1892 in the Gothic Revival style

Poole's Walk Ways

Bibliography
Beamish, Derek; Hillier, John; Johnstone, H.F.V. (1949), Mansions and Merchants of Poole and Dorset, Poole Historical Trust, ISBN 07137-0836-0
Cullingford, Cecil N. (1988), A History of Poole, Phillimore & Co Ltd, ISBN 0-85033-666-X Legg, Rodney (2005), The Book of Poole Harbour and Town, Halsgrove, ISBN 1-84114-411-8 Sydenham, John (1986) [1839], The History of the Town and County of Poole (2nd ed.), Poole: Poole Historical
Trust, ISBN 0950491446



Poole bay a wonderful sight from the train as you round the bay and it opens out before you.



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