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Poole ( ) is a large coastal town and seaport in Dorsetmarker on the south coast of England. The town is east of Dorchestermarker, and Bournemouthmarker 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 harbourmarker, history, the Poole Arts Centre and award-winning beaches. The town has a busy commercial port with cross-Channelmarker freight and passenger ferry services. The headquarters of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution , luxury yacht manufacturer Sunseeker, and Merlin Entertainments are located in Poole, and the Royal Marines have a base in the town's harbour. Despite their names, Poole is the current home of the The Arts University College at Bournemouth, the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra and a significant part of Bournemouth Universitymarker.


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 Castlemarker and Badbury Ringsmarker to heathland around the River Frome and Poole Harbourmarker. The Romans landed at Poole during their conquest of Britain in the 1st century and took over an Iron Age settlement at Hamworthymarker, an area just west of the modern town centre. In Anglo-Saxon times, Poole was included in the Kingdom of Wessexmarker. 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 Warehammarker. 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 Castlemarker.

Poole established successful commerce with the North American colonies in the 16th century, including the important fisheries of Newfoundlandmarker. 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. 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.

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 Hamworthymarker 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 Bournemouthmarker 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 Beachmarker. 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 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 , 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. For local elections, 42 councillors are elected across 16 wards and elections take place every four years. The last election took place in May 2007, resulting in the Conservatives retaining overall control. The Council is made up of 25 Conservative and 17 Liberal Democrat councillors and Poole's Council Leader is Brian Leverett (Conservative). Poole's Sheriff, a position created by the town's charter of 1568 and just one of 15 Sheriffs in the country, is Conservative Councillor Chris Bultee. The Mayor is Charles Meachin, a Liberal Democrat councillor for Poole since 1996. In 2008, the Audit Commission rated the Borough of Poole one of the top performing councils in the United Kingdom. The council was described as "improving well" and was given a four star overall performance rating. Poole has been twinned with the town of Cherbourgmarker in France since 1977.

Party political make-up of Poole Borough Council
   Party Seats Poole Borough Council 2007–2011
  Conservative 25                                                                                    
  Lib Dems 17                                                                                    
  Labour 0                                                                                    

Parliamentary representation

Poole is represented by two parliamentary constituencies in the House of Commonsmarker; Poole and Mid Dorset and North Poolemarker. The county constituency of Mid Dorset and North Poole was created in 1997 and includes the north east of Poole, Wimborne Minstermarker, Warehammarker and extends into rural Dorset. The constituency elects one Member of Parliament; currently Annette Brooke, the Liberal Democrat spokeswoman for Children, Schools and Families. At the 2005 general election, the Liberal Democrats won a majority of 5,482 and 48.7% of the vote in Mid Dorset and North Poole. The Conservatives won 36.6% of the vote, Labour 11.6% and the Independence Party 3.1%. The borough constituency of Poole has existed since 1950. Previously it had been a parliamentary borough, electing two Members of Parliament from 1455 until 1865 when representation was reduced to one member. In 1885 the constituency was abolished altogether and absorbed into the East Dorset constituency until its reintroduction in 1950. Robert Syms (Conservative) has been the elected Member of Parliament for Poole since 1997. At the 2005 general election, the Conservatives won a majority of 5,988 and 43.4% of the vote. The Liberal Democrats won 28.6% of the vote, Labour 23.1%, the Independence Party 3.5% and the British National Party 1.4%. Poole is included in the South West England constituency for elections to the European Parliamentmarker.

Coat of arms

The design of the coat of arms originated in a seal from the late 1300s 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 shrinemarker at Santiago de Compostelamarker – a popular destination for Christian pilgrims departing from Poole Harbour in the Middle Ages.

The arms were confirmed by the College of Armsmarker 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 mottoAd 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 shores of the English Channelmarker and lies on the northern and eastern sides of Poole Harbourmarker, west-southwest of London, at . 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 Uptonmarker and Corfe Mullenmarker and across the northern border at the River Stour lies Wimborne Minstermarker. At the eastern edge of Poole, the town abuts Bournemouth and the settlements of Kinsonmarker, Wintonmarker and Westbournemarker. To the south of Poole along the coast lies Poole Baymarker, featuring of sandy beaches from Sandbanksmarker 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.

Alderneymarker - Bearwoodmarker - Branksome - Branksome Parkmarker - Broadstonemarker - Canford Cliffsmarker - Canford Heathmarker - Creekmoormarker - Fleetsbridgemarker - Hamworthymarker - Lilliputmarker - Longfleetmarker - Merleymarker - Newtown - Oakdalemarker - Parkstonemarker - Penn Hillmarker - Sandbanksmarker - Stertemarker - Talbot Villagemarker - Wallisdownmarker - Waterloomarker

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 Harbourmarker. 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 , 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 and is extremely shallow: although the main shipping channels are deep the average depth of the harbour is . It contains several small islands, the largest is Brownsea Islandmarker, a nature reserve owned by the National Trust and the birthplace of the Scouting movement and location of the first Scout Campmarker. Britain's largest onshore oil field operates from Wytch Farmmarker on the south shore of the harbour. The oil reservoirs extend under the harbour and eastwards from Sandbanks and Studlandmarker for under the sea to the south of Bournemouth.

Situated directly to the east of the Jurassic Coastmarker, Poole is a gateway town to the UNESCOmarker World Heritage Site, which includes of the Dorset and east Devon coast important for its geology, landforms and rich fossil record. The South West Coast Path stretches for from Mineheadmarker in Somersetmarker, along the coast of Devonmarker and Cornwallmarker and on to Poole. The path is the United Kingdom's longest national trail at .



Due to its location on the south coast of England, Poole has a temperate climate with a small variation in daily and annual temperatures. The average annual mean temperature from 1971 to 2000 was 10.2 to 12 °C (50.4 to 53.6 °F). The warmest months in Poole are July and August, which have an average temperature range of , and the coolest months are January and February, which have a range of . Mean sea surface temperatures range from in February to in August. The average annual rainfall of is well below the UK average of .


Religion %
Buddhist 0.16
Christian 74.34
Hindu 0.15
Jewish 0.32
Muslim 0.41
No religion 16.23
Other 0.32
Sikh 0.03
Not stated 8.03
Age Percentage
0–4 5.2
5–14 12.2
15–29 16.0
30–44 21.5
45–64 24.8
65+ 20.3

Poole merges with several other towns to form the South East Dorset conurbationmarker 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 , 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. Housing stock has increased by over 100% in the past 40 years from 30,000 in 1961 to approximately 62,700 in 2004. Compared to the rest of England and Wales, Poole has an above average number of residents aged 65+ (20.3%), but this is less than the Dorset average of 22.2%. The largest proportion of the population (24.8%) is between the ages of 45 to 64, slightly above the national average of 23.8%. Population projections have predicted a continual growth; a population of 151,481 is estimated by 2016.

The district is overwhelmingly populated by people of a white ethnic background, 95.98% of residents are of White British ethnicity, well above the rest of England at 86.99%. Minority ethnic groups (including those in white ethnic groups who did not classify themselves as British) represent 4.0% of Poole’s population. The largest religion in Poole is Christianity, at almost 74.34%, slightly above the United Kingdom average of 71.6%. The next-largest sector is those with no religion, at almost 16.23%, also above the UK average of 15.5%.

The average house price in Poole is high compared to the rest of the UK and the surrounding south west region. The average price of a property in Poole in 2008 was £274,011; detached houses are on average £374,150, semi-detached and terraced houses were cheaper at £226,465 and £217,128 respectively. An apartment or flat costs on average £216,097, more than any other part of Dorset. The average house prices in Poole are boosted by those in Sandbanksmarker, which has the fourth most expensive house prices in the world; the average property sells for £488,761. A study in 2006 by the National Housing Federation reported that Poole was the most unaffordable town in which to live in the UK.

Population growth in Poole since 1801
Year 1801 1811 1821 1831 1841 1851 1861 1871 1881 1891 1901 1911 1921 1931 1941 1951 1961 1971 1981 1991 2001
Population 6,682 6,752 9,021 9,401 9,901 10,595 12,152 13,710 15,267 20,446 29,068 41,344 50,024 60,527 71,089 83,494 94,598 107,204 117,133 135,066 138,299
% change +1.1 +33.6 +4.2 +5.3 +7 +14.7 +12.8 +11.4 +33.9 +42.2 +42.2 +30 +30 +17.5 +17.5 +13.3 +13.3 +9.3 +15.3 +2.4
A Vision of Britain through Time


Poole's employment structure
Sector Poole Dorsetmarker Great Britainmarker
Agriculture 0.1% 0.4% 0.9%
Energy and Water 1.1% 0.6% 0.8%
Manufacturing 16.8% 13.4% 13.4%
Construction 3.3% 4.0% 4.5%
Services 78.7% 81.7% 80.5%
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, Precision Disc Casting, Siemens, Southernprint and Ryvita. Poole has the largest number of industrial estates in South East Dorsetmarker, including the Nuffield Industrial estate, Mannings Heath and the Arena Business Park. Industrial Estate sites are in high demand; further developments such as the Poole Trade Park near Tower Park and the Branksome Business centre are under construction.

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 , the UK headquarters of Fitness First, Bournemouth Universitymarker and Poole NHS Primary Care Trust. Poole is also the headquarters for 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 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 Hamworthymarker, 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-channelmarker 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 Cherbourgmarker, St Malomarker and the Channel Islands. The Royal Marines operate out of the harbour at Royal Marines Poole, established on the shore at 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 Servicemarker. One-hundred-five fishing boats are registered and licensed to the port and hold 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 Wightmarker, 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, 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 Hamworthymarker 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. Scaplen'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 Islandmarker, the River Frome and Swanagemarker. 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 Bridgemarker. 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 Churchmarker 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 Harbourmarker 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 which 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.


Poole's sandy beaches are a popular tourist destination extending along Poole Baymarker from the Sandbanksmarker peninsular to Branksome Dene Chine at the border with Bournemouthmarker. 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

Poole falls within the Church of England Diocese of Salisburymarker and the Roman Catholic Diocese of Plymouthmarker. 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' Churchmarker 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 Parkstonemarker 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.

Sport and recreation

Poole Harbourmarker and Poole Baymarker are popular areas for a number of recreational pursuits, including sailing, windsurfing, surfing, kitesurfing and water skiing. The harbour's large areas of sheltered waters attract windsurfers, particularly around the northern and eastern shores. Water skiing takes place in the harbour in a special designated area known as the Wareham Channel. The waters around the harbour, Poole Bay and Studland Baymarker are also popular for recreational angling and diving.

Poole's wide and sandy beaches are used for swimming, sunbathing, water sports and sailing. The beaches at Sandbanksmarker are often used for sporting events such as the Beach Volleyball Classic, and in 2008 it hosted the inaugural British Beach Polo Championship.

Poole Harbour is one of the largest centres for sailing in the UK with yacht clubs including Lilliput Sailing Club, Parkstone Yacht Club and Poole Yacht Club. Parkstone Yacht Club hosted the OK Dinghy World Championships in 2004, the J/24 National Championships in 2006 and the J/24 European Championships in 2007, and are the organisers of Youth Week and Poole Week – two of the largest annual dinghy regattas of their type in the country.

Poole's oldest football team is Poole Town F.C.marker, a semi-professional team who play in the Wessex League Premier Division – the ninth tier of the English football league system. Established in 1880, the team has had erratic success at their level; they have never risen above non-League levels but once reached the third round of the FA Cup. They played at Poole Stadiummarker until 1994 and have since settled at Tatnam Farm, sharing the school playing field with Oakdale South Road Middle Schoolmarker. Poole's other football teams are Hamworthy Unitedmarker, who formed in 1970 and also play in the Wessex Premier League, and amateur team Poole Borough F.C. who play in the Dorset Premier League. Poole is one of the largest towns in England without a professional football team.

Poole's motorcycle speedway team, the Poole Pirates, were established and began racing at Poole Stadium in 1948 in the National League Division Three. The team now races in the top tier of league racing (the Elite League) which they last won in 2008. Poole Stadium is also a venue for greyhound racing; race nights occur three days a week throughout the year.


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 Winchelseamarker 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 Rocksmarker 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.

The Animal Windfest is an annual three day long festival of water-sports held at Sandbanksmarker. The event features the UK windsurfing freestyle final, the second round of the British kiteboarding championships and other amateur competitions and demonstration events. First held in 1998, the festival attracts approximately 10,000 people each year. Poole's Summertime in the South is an annual programme providing various events on Poole Quay and Sandbanks from May until September. During June and July, live music, street entertainment and a large firework display take place on Poole Quay every Thursday evening. In August, the entertainment moves to the beaches at Sandbanks.

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 Museummarker 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. Entrance to the museum is free.


The main transport features in Poole and Dorset
The A350 road is Poole town centre's main artery, running north from Poole Bridgemarker along Holes Bay and on to the A35, and as a single carriageway to Bathmarker and Bristolmarker. To the east, the A337 road leads to Lymingtonmarker and the New Forestmarker. The A35 trunk road runs from Devonmarker to Southamptonmarker 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 Newburymarker. A second bridge is planned to be built to connect Poole and Hamworthy as the existing bridge is unsuitable for the increasing traffic flow. The £34 million scheme was given approval by the Department for Transportmarker in 2006 but construction of the bridge has been delayed since November 2007 because of a stalemate between the council and the land owners. A road link to Studlandmarker and the Isle of Purbeckmarker across the narrow entrance of Poole Harbour is provided by the Sandbanks Ferrymarker.

Local bus services are run by Wilts & Dorset who are based at the town’s bus station and have served Poole since 1983. Wilts & Dorset operate networks across Poole, Bournemouth, Christchurch and Salisburymarker, in addition to operations on the Isle of Purbeckmarker and the New Forestmarker. Other services are run by Bournemouth based Transdev Yellow Buses, Roadliner, Shamrock Buses and Damory Coaches. Poole is connected to towns and villages along the Jurassic Coastmarker by the First X53 service, which runs along a route of to Weymouthmarker, Bridportmarker, Lyme Regismarker, Seatonmarker and Exetermarker. Poole bus station is the terminus of National Express Coaches which have frequent departures to London Victoria Coach Station. There are also direct services to the West Country, the Sussex coast, Bristol, Birmingham, the Midlandsmarker, the North West, Edinburgh and Glasgow. The National Express Flightlink service serves Heathrow Airportmarker and connects to Gatwickmarker and Stansted Airportmarker.

Poole has four railway stations on the South Western Main Line from London Waterloomarker to Weymouth. These are – from east to west – Branksomemarker near the border with Bournemouth, Parkstonemarker, Poole railway stationmarker in the town centre and Hamworthymarker. Services to Waterloo are operated by South West Trains and depart from Poole station every half an hour, express services depart every hour. Plans for a £50 million redevelopment of Poole railway station have been delayed since 2006 due to contractual issues between land owners Network Rail and developers the Kier Group. The plans include a new railway station, a hotel, a new pedestrian bridge, business offices and a transport interchange for taxis and coaches.

Poole is a cross channelmarker port for passengers and freight with up to seven sailings a day in the summer season. Year-round services from Poole Harbour to Cherbourgmarker are provided by Brittany Ferries who operate two ferries from Poole: the Barfleur and the Cotentin. The Barfleur has served the Poole to Cherbourg route since 1992; the Cotentin freight ship also covers the Poole-Cherbourg route and at weekends runs a service between Poole and Santandermarker in Spain. The Condor Ferries catamarans Condor Express and Condor Vitesse run seasonal services to Guernseymarker, Jerseymarker and St. Malomarker, Brittany. Bournemouth International Airportmarker in Hurnmarker, on the periphery of Bournemouth, is the nearest airport to Poole – from Poole town centre. Ryanair, EasyJet, Thomsonfly and Palmair operate from the airport and provide scheduled services to destinations in the UK and Europe.


Poole has sixteen first schools, eight middle schools, seven combined schools, eight secondary and grammar schools, five special schools, two independent schools and one college of further education. Canford Schoolmarker, is an independent boarding school and although located in Wimbornemarker, it is administered by Poole local education authority. Poole’s two grammar schools maintain a selective education system, assessed by the Eleven Plus exam. Poole High Schoolmarker is the largest secondary school in Poole with 1,660 pupils. The Bournemouth and Poole Collegemarker attracts over 16,000 students a year and is one of the largest further education colleges in the country and the leading provider of academic and vocational education in Dorset. It has two centrally located main campuses in Poole and Bournemouth. In 2008, the college announced plans to refurbish and redevelop its campuses at an estimated cost of £120 million.

From the 2007 General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) results, Poole was ranked 18th out of 148 local authorities in England based on the percentage of pupils attaining at least five A* to C grades at GCSE level including maths and English (54.5% compared with the national average of 46.8%). Parkstone Grammar Schoolmarker was the most successful secondary school in Poole for GCSE results in 2007: 100% of pupils gained five or more GCSEs at A* to C grade including maths and English. Canford School also achieved 100% and Poole Grammar Schoolmarker was the next best performing school with 98%. Poole High School achieved 39% and the worst performing school was Rossmore Community Collegemarker where only 19% of students achieved five or more A* to C grade results. Poole’s grammar schools were also the best performing for A-level results. Poole Grammar School was the 60th most successful school/sixth form in the country in 2007: each student achieved on average 1071.4 points compared to the national average of 731.2. Parkstone Grammar School students averaged 1017.9 points.

Bournemouth Universitymarker 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. Media courses are the university's strength, and recent teaching quality assessments have resulted in ratings of 'excellent' for courses in the areas of communication and media, business and management, catering and hospitality, archaeology and nursing and midwifery. The Arts Institute at Bournemouth is a university-sector institution in Poole at Wallisdownmarker. The institute offers undergraduate, foundation degree, postgraduate and further education courses in contemporary arts, design and media.

Public services

Home Office policing in Poole is provided by the Poole and Bournemouth Division of Dorset Police which has two police stations in Poole: at the Civic Centre in the town centre, and on Gravel Hill in Canford Heathmarker. Dorset Fire and Rescue Service provides statutory emergency fire and rescue services for Poole and are based at Poole Fire Station in Creekmoormarker which opened in 2008. The former fire station on Wimborne Road was demolished in 2008 and will be replaced with a new joint fire and police station expected to open in 2009.

Poole Hospital is a large NHS Foundation Trust hospital in Longfleetmarker with 789 beds. It opened in 1969 as Poole General Hospital, replacing Poole's Cornelia Hospital which had stood on the site since 1907. The hospital is the major trauma center for East Dorset and provides core services such as child health and maternity for a catchment area including Bournemouth and Christchurch. Specialist services such as neurological care and cancer treatment are also provided for the rest of Dorset. The South Western Ambulance Service provides emergency patient transport.

Waste management and recycling are co-ordinated by Poole Borough Council in partnership with Viridor Waste Management. Locally produced inert waste is sent to landfill for disposal. Recycle waste is taken to the recycling plant at the Allington Quarry Waste Management Facilitymarker in Kent for processing. Poole's Distribution Network Operator for electricity is Scottish and Southern Energy. Drinking and waste water is managed by Wessex Water; groundwater sources in Wiltshire and Dorset provide 80% of drinking water, the rest comes from reservoirs fed by rivers and streams.


Poole has one main local newspaper, the Daily Echo, which is owned by Newsquest. Published since 1900, the newspaper features news from Poole, Bournemouthmarker and the surrounding area. Issues appear Monday through Saturday with a daily circulation of 32,441. For local television, Poole is served by the BBC South studios based in Southamptonmarker, and by Meridian Broadcasting (formerly Television South) with studios in Farehammarker. Radio stations broadcasting to the town include Wave 105, 2CR FM, Fire 107.6 and The Bay 102.8. Limited BBC Local Radio coverage to Poole and the rest of Dorset is provided by the Hampshire based BBC Radio Solent. Plans for a BBC Radio Dorset station were abandoned in 2007 following financial cutbacks by the BBC.

Notable people

The town has been the birthplace and home to notable people, of national and international acclaim. Former residents include Robert Baden Powell the founder of the Scouting movement, British radio disc jockey Tony Blackburn, the artist Augustus John and The Lord of the Rings author J. R. R. Tolkien lived in Poole for four years during his retirement. Alfred Russel Wallace, the 19th century explorer, naturalist and co-founder of the theory of evolution by natural selection, moved to Poole in 1902 when he was 78 years old and is buried in Broadstone cemetery. Notable people born in Poole include Greg Lake of the band Emerson, Lake & Palmer, the author John le Carré, the writer and actor David Croft, and James Stephen, the principal lawyer associated with the British abolitionist movement. Edgar Wright the director of films such as Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz was born in Poole and out of the five previous British winners of the Miss World title, two have hailed from Poole; Ann Sydney and Sarah-Jane Hutt. Harry Redknapp, the Tottenham Hotspur F.C. manager, and his son Jamie Redknapp, a former England national football team player, own homes in Sandbanksmarker.

See also

References and notes


  1. Cullingford (p.183)
  2. Legg (p.9)
  3. Sydenham (p.69–71)
  4. Legg (p.13)
  5. Legg (p.14)
  6. Legg (p.15)
  7. Sydenham (p.94)
  8. Legg (p.31)
  9. Sydenham (p.127–128)
  10. Beamish (p.8–11)
  11. Sydenham (p.398–402)
  12. Andrews I.J. & Balson P.S. (1995), Wight: Sheet 50N 02W Solid Geology, 1:250,000 Geological map series, Keyworth: British Geological Survey.
  13. Legg (p.145)


External links

Town guides


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