About 1540 a man named Leland visited Poole and wrote a description of it. (I have changed his words slightly to make them easier to read). He wrote: 'Poole was not, in the past, a trading town but it was, for a long time a poor fishing village. There are men living who remember when all the buildings in the town had thatched roofs. It now has many more substantial buildings and much more trade. It stands like an island in the harbour and is joined to the mainland by a piece of land no wider than an arrow shot. It also has a ditch (outside the town walls), which is often filled with water from the harbour. There is a stone gate at the entrance of the town. The town lies north to South. There is a substantial stone house by the quay'.In 1524 a wooden platform was erected on the quayside and cannons were mounted on it. In 1545 a fort was built on Brownsea Island.
During the 16th century many fishing vessels from Poole sailed to the waters off Newfoundland. There was also a flourishing brewing industry in Poole.In 1568 Queen Elizabeth gave Poole a new charter. This one made Poole completely independent and gave the townspeople complete control over all their own affairs. In 1574 a census showed that Poole had a population of 1,373. It would seem tiny to us but by the standards of the time it was a small town.
In 1642 civil war between king and parliament began. The walled town of Poole firmly supported parliament. The royalists made one attempt to take Poole. In 1643 a captain called Francis Sydenham agreed to leave the gate open in return for ?40 (a large sum of money in those days) and a pardon.
However it was a trap. In front of the gate was a semi circular earthwork called a half moon. Across its entrance were chains. The gate was left open and the chains were lowered. When the royalist cavalry entered the space created by the half moon the gate was shut and the chains were raised trapping them. However most of them managed to escape.
Poole suffered an outbreak of plague in 1645.
POOLE IN THE 18th CENTURY
In the 18th century Poole was still dominated by the Newfoundland trade. Ships went to fish off the coast there. some of the first settlers in Newfoundland came from Poole. Manufactured goods were exported from Poole to Newfoundland. As Poole lived by shipping it is not surprising there was an important shipbuilding industry at Hamworthy.
There was also a rope making business in Poole. (Since sailing ships required miles of rope).During the 18th century Poole was a prosperous and growing town. (Although as in all towns there were plenty of very poor people). A new town hall was built in 1761.At the time of the first census, in 1801, Poole had a population of 9,276. By the standards of the time it was quite a large town. Poole grew at phenomenal rate in the 19th century. The population reached 12,310 in 1881 and was approaching 20,000 by the end of the 19th century. Part of the reason for the growth was the creation of a new seaside resort at Bournemouth which created a vast demand for the goods made in Poole. As Poole grew its amenities improved. A new Customs House was built in Poole in 1813. A Harbour Office was built in 1820. St James Church was also built in 1820. In 1859 a private water company was founded to supply Poole with water. (The council took over the company in 1906). However no sewers were dug till the end of the 19th century.
In 1834 a toll bridge was built linking Poole with Hamworthy. In the 19th century the old Newfoundland trade came to an end. When the war with France ended in 1815 fishermen from Poole were suddenly faced with competition from other nations. Furthermore some countries imposed import duties on dried fish to help their own fishermen. The result was the death of the Newfoundland trade in Poole.
There was also a coastal trade to and from Poole in the early 19th century but it went into rapid decline when a railway was built to the Hamworthy side of the bridge. Businessmen could now transport goods to and from Poole by rail. Another railway was built to the centre of Poole in 1872.The first public library in Poole opened in 1887. Poole Park opened in 1890. Parkstone Park opened the same year.In 1901 electric trams began running through the streets of Poole. But buses soon replaced them. The last tram ran in 1935.
The first cinema in Poole opened in 1910. Civic Offices were built in Poole in 1932.At the beginning of the 20th century the population of Poole was only 19,000. But it grew at a phenomenal rate. Today the population of Poole is 141,000.The old industries of shipbuilding, brick making and brewing declined in the 20th century. Pottery survived. Today there is a Pottery Centre, which is a thriving tourist attraction. Today the main industry in Poole is tourism.The Dolphin Centre opened in 1969. (At first it was called the Arndale Centre). Also in 1969 Poole General Hospital opened. The Dolphin pool opened in 1974. Poole Lifeboat Museum also opened in 1974. An Arts Centre opened in 1978. (It was later renamed the Lighthouse). Waterfront Museum opened in 1989.
For property rental, accommodation in the Poole area contact Tailor Made Letting Agents. Location Poole Town Centre