Poole

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Poole is a large coastal town and seaport in the county of Dorset, on the south coast of England. The town is 33 kilometres (21 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. Together with Bournemouth and Christchurch, the town forms the South East Dorset conurbation with a total population of over 400,000.

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 Lighthouse arts centre and Blue Flag 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) are located in Poole, and the Royal Marines have a base in the town’s harbour. Despite their names, Poole is the home of The Arts University College at Bournemouth, the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra and a significant part of Bournemouth University.

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 Domesday 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 merchants’ opposition to the 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.

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 where many of the medieval buildings were replaced with Georgian mansions and terraced housing. 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.

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’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 and 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 buildings.

On 1 April 1997, the town was made a unitary authority following a review by the Local Government Commission for England (1992), and became once again administratively independent from Dorset. The borough reverted to its previous title of the Borough and County of the Town of Poole, which recalled its status as a county corporate before the implementation of the Local Government Act 1888.

The design of the coat of arms originated in a seal from the late 14th century and were recorded by Clarenceux King of Arms during the heraldic visitation of Dorset in 1563. The wavy bars of black and gold represent the sea and the dolphin is sign of Poole’s maritime interests. The scallop shells are the emblem of Saint James and are associated with his shrine at Santiago de Compostela – a popular destination for Christian pilgrims departing from Poole Harbour in the Middle Ages.

The arms were confirmed by the College of Arms on 19 June 1948, and at the same time the crest (a mermaid supporting an anchor and holding a cannon ball) was granted. Following local government reorganisation in 1974, the 1948 arms were transferred to Poole Borough Council. In 1976, the council received the grant of supporters for the coat of arms. The supporters refer to important charters given to the town; to the left is a gold lion holding a long sword representing William Longespee who in 1248 granted the town’s first charter; on the right is a dragon derived from the Royal Arms of Elizabeth I who granted Poole county corporate status in 1568. The Latin motto – Ad Morem Villae De Poole, means: According to the Custom of the Town of Poole, and derives from the Great Charter of 1568.

Poole is located on the shore of the English Channel and lies on the northern and eastern edges of Poole Harbour, 179 kilometres (111 mi) west-southwest of London, at 50.72°N 1.98°W. 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.

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 (1.57 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).

Poole merges with several other towns to form the South East Dorset conurbation which has a combined population of 445,000, forming one of the South Coast’s major urban areas. The population of Poole according to the 2001 UK Census was 138,288. The town has a built-up area of 65 square kilometres (25 sq mi), giving an approximate population density of 2,128 residents per square kilometre (5,532 per sq mi) in 60,512 dwellings. The population has grown steadily since the 1960s, inward migration has accounted for most of the town’s growth and a significant part of this has been for retirement.

Poole’s economy is more balanced than the rest of Dorset. In the 1960s prosperity was fuelled by growth in the manufacturing sector, whereas the 1980s and 1990s saw expansion in the service sector as office based employers relocated to the area. The importance of manufacturing has declined since the 1960s but still employed approximately 17% of the workforce in 2002 and remains more prominent than in the economy of Great Britain as a whole. Sunseeker, the world’s largest privately-owned builder of motor yachts and the UK’s largest manufacturer, is based in Poole and employs over 1,800 people in its Poole shipyards. It was estimated in 2004 that Sunseeker generates £160 million for the local economy. Other major employers in the local manufacturing industry include Sealed Air, Hamworthy Heating, Hamworthy Combustion, Lush, Mathmos, Penske Cars Ltd (who build racing cars for Penske Racing), Kerry Foods, Transmission Developments, Precision Disc Casting, Siemens, Southernprint and Ryvita. Poole has the largest number of industrial estates in South East Dorset, including the Nuffield Industrial estate, Mannings Heath, Arena Business Park, Poole Trade Park and the Branksome Business Centre.

The service sector is the principal economy of Poole; a large number of employees work for the service economy of local residents or for the tourist economy. During the 1970s, Poole’s less restrictive regional planning policies attracted businesses wishing to relocate from London. These included employers in the banking and financial sector, such as Barclays Bank (who operate a regional headquarters in Poole), American Express Bank and the corporate trust division of Bank of New York Mellon. Other important service sector employers include Link House Publications, the national headquarters and Lifeboat College of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI), the UK headquarters of Fitness First, Bournemouth University and Poole NHS Primary Care Trust. Poole is also the headquarters for clothing company Animal, and Merlin Entertainments, the world’s second-largest theme park operator after Disney. The Dolphin Shopping Centre is Poole’s main retail area, and the largest indoor shopping centre in Dorset. It opened in 1969 as an Arndale Centre, and underwent three major refurbishments in 1980, 1989 and 2004. The centre provides 47,000 square metres (510,000 sq ft) of retail space with 110 stores and two multi-storey car parks with 1,400 parking spaces. A pedestrianised high street containing shops, bars, public houses and restaurants connects the Dolphin Centre with the historic Old Town area and Poole Quay. Tourism is important to the Poole’s economy and was worth an estimated £158 million in 2002. Poole’s Harbour, Quay, Poole Pottery and the beaches are some of the main attractions for visitors. Visitor accommodation consists of hotels, guest houses and bed and breakfast rooms located around the town, particularly in Sandbanks and the town centre. Rockley Park, a large caravan site in Hamworthy, is owned and operated by Haven and British Holidays.

Since the 1970s, Poole has become one of Britain’s busiest ports. Investment in new port facilities in Hamworthy, and the deepening of shipping channels allowed considerable growth in cross-channel freight and passenger traffic. The port is a destination for bulk cargo imports such as steel, timber, bricks, fertiliser, grain, aggregates and palletised traffic. Export cargoes include clay, sand, fragmented steel and grain. Commercial ferry operators run regular passenger and freight services from Poole to Cherbourg, St Malo and the Channel Islands. The Royal Marines operate out of the harbour at Royal Marines Poole, established in Hamworthy in 1954. The base is home to 1 Assault Group Royal Marines (responsible for landing craft and small boat training), a detachment of the Royal Marines Reserve and special forces unit the Special Boat Service. In 2008, 105 fishing boats were registered and licensed to the port and held a permit issued by the Southern Sea Fisheries District Committee (SSFDC) to fish commercially. It is the largest port in terms of licences in the SSFDC district which covers the coastline of Dorset, Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, and one of the largest registered fishing fleets in the UK. However, the fleet is gradually declining because of rising fuel costs and restrictive fishing quotas introduced by the European Union. A large number of unlicensed boats also operate charted or private angling excursions.

Poole Quay is a visitor attraction to the south of the town centre 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 the Grade I listed Town Cellars, a medieval warehouse built in the 15th century on the foundations of a 14th century stone building, houses a local history centre.[76] Scaplen’s Court, another Grade I listed building, 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 on Brownsea Island. 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.

Poole’s Guildhall has played a varied part in the history of the town. 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 and 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 has several urban parks – the largest is Poole Park adjacent to Poole Harbour and the town centre. It 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 44.3 hectares (109 acres) of which 24 hectares (59 acres) include the park’s man-made lake and ponds.

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. 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 and 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.

The ‘Beating of the Bounds’ is an ancient annual custom first carried out in 1612, which revives the traditional checking of the sea boundaries awarded to Poole by the Cinque Port of Winchelsea in 1364. The Admiral of the Port of Poole (the mayor) and other dignitaries, and members of the public sail from the mouth of the River Frome to Old Harry Rocks to confirm the Mayor’s authority over the water boundaries of the harbour and check for any encroachments. As there are no physical landmarks that can be beaten at sea, traditionally children from Poole were encouraged to remember the bounds of their town by taking part in the ‘Pins and Points’ ceremony involving the beating of a boy and pricking of a girl’s hand with a needle. In modern times, the acts have been symbolically carried out.

Poole’s Lighthouse is the largest arts centre complex in the United Kingdom outside London. Built in 1978, the centre contains a cinema, concert hall, studio, theatre, image lab and media suite and galleries featuring exhibitions of contemporary photography and modern digital art. The venue underwent an £8.5 million refurbishment in 2002, paid for by the Arts Council England, the Borough of Poole and private donations. The centre’s concert hall has been the residence of the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra’s main concert series since their former base at the Bournemouth Winter Gardens closed in 1985. Situated in the centre of the Old Town, Poole Museum illustrates the story of the area and its people and the collections reflect the cultural, social and industrial history of Poole. Displays include the Poole Logboat and a detailed history of Poole from the Iron Age to the present day. The museum has a floor devoted to the history of Poole Pottery and some of the company’s products are on display.

The A350 road is Poole town centre’s main artery, running north from Poole Bridge along Holes Bay and on to the A35, and as a single carriageway to Bath and Bristol. To the east, the A337 road leads to Lymington and the New Forest. The A35 trunk road runs from Devon to Southampton and connects to the A31 on the outskirts of the town. The A31, the major trunk road in central southern England, connects to the M27 motorway at Southampton. From here the M3 motorway leads to London, and fast access may also be gained via the A34 to the M4 north of Newbury. A second bridge is being built to connect Poole and Hamworthy as the existing bridge is unsuitable for the traffic flow.

Poole has four railway stations on the South Western Main Line from London Waterloo to Weymouth. From east to west these are Branksome near the border with Bournemouth, Parkstone, Poole railway station in the town centre and Hamworthy. Services to Waterloo are operated by South West Trains; two trains, a fast and a semi fast service, depart every hour.

Poole is a cross-Channel port for passengers and freight with up to seven sailings a day in the summer season. Ferry services from Poole Harbour to Cherbourg are provided by Brittany Ferries who operate two ferries from Poole: the Normandie Vitesse and the Cotentin. The Normandie Vitesse provides a high-speed daily passenger service to Cherbourg between May and September; the Cotentin freight ship covers the Poole-Cherbourg route year-round and runs a weekend service between Poole and Santander, Spain. The Condor Ferries catamarans Condor Express and Condor Vitesse run seasonal services to Guernsey, Jersey and St. Malo, Brittany. Bournemouth International Airport in Hurn, on the periphery of Bournemouth, is the nearest airport to Poole – 16 kilometres (9.9 mi) from Poole town centre. Ryanair, easyJet, Thomson Airways and Palmair operate from the airport and provide scheduled services to destinations in the UK and Europe.

Bournemouth University was designated as a university in 1992 and despite its name, the university’s main campus (the Talbot Campus) and buildings are in Poole and smaller campus is situated in Bournemouth. The Arts University Bournemouth was designated as a university in 2012 and is located at Wallisdown

Poole has one main local newspaper, the Daily Echo, which is owned by Newsquest. Published since 1900, the newspaper features news from Poole, Bournemouth and the surrounding area.

Note: this page is partly based on a Wikipedia page. Text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. Where possible, text is being updated to original, fully referenced research. ‘Our photos’ means we took the photographs. The Street View and street map visuals are courtesy of Google.

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