Probably one of the best known places in Dorset is Poole the home of the famous Poole Pottery and the home of the headquarters of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI). The town and ports sits on the inner shores of the finest natural harbour in the country and is the main industrial centre of the county as well as the main port. I has an historical and architectural heritage.
During the English Civil war the town was a stronghold for Cromwell's forces and from here were launched attacks on Corfe Castle. Royalists were caught between the two defences of the town, where the Arndale Shopping Centre stands today, and it came to pass that a plan had been drawn up to capture the town by treachery. Links with the sea have made the town proud and here ninety four seamen set sail in four ships to take part in the Siege of Calais and also ships left here to fight alongside Francis Drake in his fight against the Spanish Armada.
When Wareham had silting problems on the Frome Poole soon became established as a port and charters goes back to 1248 and another in 1371 decreed that 'our Port Reeve shall henceforth be styled Mayor', and over the last 600 years mayors have been elected, The Customs Port for the county was established in 1433 and Henry VIII granted annual fairs and weekly markets in 1453, In the reign of Elizabeth I it was to be 'A County incorporate, separate and distinct from the County of Dorset.' and this let to it having the right to elect its own sheriff.
The port became more important in the 18th and 19th centuries when it became a key port for the Newfoundland trade and the first settlers to the colony left from here. The large number of ships that sailed the route from here to Newfoundland was the source of its wealth and this can be seen in the property that is around the waterfront. What is now Market Street was once Poole Mansion the home of Sit Peter Thompson who was a local merchant.
Today it is practically an extension of Bournemouth and includes the suburbs of Branksome, Parkstone and Sandbanks. The latter becoming more famous for its houses which are now millionaires residences. Even a beach hut here can reach around £23,000 or more to buy and all it is, is a wooden shed with no running water, services such as electricity or gas, no sanitation and you are not allowed to live in them!!
The area known as Old Poole is a favourite attraction to visitors with its fine old Inns that are full of character and almshouses built in the 15th century and the Georgian Harbour Office and Customs House which were both built in the 19th century.
Not far from the quayside is the parish church of St James which was rebuilt in 1820 and contains pillars of pitch pine that was brough especially from Newfoundland and the Congregational Church in Skinner Street is now the United Reform.
Compton Acres gardens stand on a pine covered hill which has some stunning views across the harbour and Poole Park is another favourites with both visitors and local people, with its boating lakes and restaurants