Museum Project Sets Sail

If time seems to have stood still over the last year, it certainly has not done so for the project team working hard with architects to refine their concept for the new, refurbished Poole Museum. As well as the main museum, the project has now expanded to include developments to Scaplen’s Court. Early plans have recently been unveiled and the public are invited to have their say. The aims of the plans include maximising the potential of the museum’s historic buildings and collections, improving facilities, increasing visitor numbers and encouraging the public to make longer visits. It is hoped that the developments will create a museum of regional standing. Details are likely to change but this is a brief summary of what is proposed:

Outside space – The area between the Museum and Scaplen’s Court would be opened up into a historic precinct with seating and perhaps a coffee cart. The bench and steps which currently form a barrier would be replaced with a broad ramp.

Ground Floor – The reception would use some of the atrium (with the fire engine removed) to allow more circulation room and a bigger shop area. A glazed screen at the entrance to the main museum would control its environment.

The main ground floor space would be opened up, with all the partitions and walls removed, to house an exhibition on Poole Harbour, its history and wildlife. Part of the display would be tall, using height up to first floor level. Public toilets would be located off the lift / staircase lobby and a new lift installed. A new emergency exit would be provided into Sarum Street.

Wool Hall – The plan is to raise the floor to the same level as the main museum, allowing better access, and to remove the mezzanine gallery and lift. The History Centre would be located elsewhere. The proposed theme is shipwreck, and the gallery would house the major wreck timbers including the logboat which should be viewable from all sides. The Swash Channel Wreck rudder would be displayed to its full height. The idea is to control the environment of the gallery instead of putting all the objects in glass cases. The glass double doors to the Quay would be replaced by a picture window. The hall may accommodate small group events.

First Floor

The first floor would house an exhibition on international trade and the experience of being at sea. Part of the History Centre would be located in the present temporary gallery and a section of the main floor. There would be a large picture window through to the atrium. A staff area would be provided near the lift.

Second Floor

No major re-display is planned for this level. The hole in the floor would be reopened (smaller than on the first floor) to provide a connection with the other levels and reveal the structure of the building. It is intended to retain the 1950s kitchen. The second part of the History Centre would occupy part of the present temporary gallery, accessible by stairs from the floor below. The rest of the temporary gallery would be occupied by a ‘conservation in action’ area where the public could view backroom museum work in progress.

Third Floor

This floor would display items drawn from the combined the ceramics and art collections and particularly relating to artists working in Poole. The café would be relocated to Scaplen’s Court and the current café space would become an activity area and creative space for families. The terrace could be used for displays of sculpture with the balustrade raised for extra safety. The toilets would be retained on this floor.

Fourth Floor

The plan is to remove the office desks and furniture and use this level for temporary exhibitions. The space would be entered by a ramp from the lobby and could be divided by movable screens. If the environmental conditions were improved to an international standard, notable exhibitions could be displayed here. There would also be a secure store and room for the plant to control the environment.

Fifth Floor – This would remain largely unchanged apart from some improvement to the sky lights and would be available for education purposes.

Scaplen’s Court -The aim is to upgrade the facilities and improve access so that the building can be better used.

The 1980s bay window would be removed on the ground floor and replaced with doors to provide a more direct entrance to the building. The plan is to relocate the café to Scaplen’s Court, using the two rooms behind the entrance hall which are not currently open to the public. The catering area for the café would be in the present store to the left of the entrance passage if utilities can be laid on. A lift and new staircase in the courtyard would give access to the first floor and accommodate the different levels. A secondary staircase and emergency exit would be provided from the back garden. The building would be open for visitors to walk round and explore. On the first floor, the upper hall would still be used for events. The kitchen at the end of the hall would be removed and a small finishing and serving area provided.

I hope I have represented the plans accurately but they are in the process of evolving and I am sure the details will change. You can click on the plans to make them a bit clearer. If you have comments or suggestions, please take the short survey at:

There is also a brief video to watch at:


Seeking Memories of Poole Park

Sports days, celebrations, boating, dragon boats, visiting the long vanished zoo . . . do you have any memories of the park to share? If so the Living Memories Project would love to hear from you. See below for more details.

The Project
We are undergraduate students at Bournemouth University, studying History. As
part of our Graduate Project unit, we are conducting local historical research
into the story and memories the people of Poole have about Poole Park.
Our project is looking at what the park means to the community and its
importance. We want to expand the collection of stories and memories that BCP
Council has about Poole Park. We’d like to undertake oral interviews to record
those memories and also take copies of any photos or letters that members of
the public might have about the park. All of which will comprise an e-book, to be
used in conjunction with a walking tour of the park that we are planning.

We recognise and value people’s memories of their links with Poole Park and
therefore we are conducting oral history interviews with members of the local
community about their experiences. We would be keen to hear your opinion on
the park, the stories you may have, your memories, all to be utilised to show
what the park means to the people of Poole.
We will record your interview through programmes, such as Microsoft teams, or
via the phone. We will not be recording your faces, though should you wish to
leave your camera on then we will be happy to oblige. The interview is likely to
last from half an hour to an hour. The interview can take place at a time to suit
you. We will record and summarise your interview and we will send you a copy
of this to keep should you wish.

Photo and Other Material Collection
If you are not participating in our project through the interview, but are willing to
share any photos you have about the park, and/or letters, drawings, other
artwork that you would like to share and be included in the project, then we
would be more than happy to take copies of these materials.
We would take the originals and make photocopies or digital copies of these
materials for our own storage and use for the project, and return any materials
provided in the same quality that they were given.

Your Participation
Your participation in the project is entirely voluntary and you are free to
withdraw from the interview and project at any time up until we have processed
the material. You are also able to close parts of the interview that you do not
wish to be used or accessed for a period of time.

The Use of the Interview and Other Materials
We would like to use the oral history interview recording in our project output,
which will take the form of an e-book. Photos and other materials will also be
used to enrich the final output for the project.
We think that people’s memories and links to Poole Park are very important, and
we would like to preserve our findings as a record for future generations.
Therefore, we would like to request your permission to archive your interview
and other materials offered at Bournemouth University and to be archived by
BCP Council. You do not have to consent to this aspect of the project in order to
take part in the project, should you wish to not have your materials archived by
BCP Council, then we will oblige.
We would be extremely grateful for your time and help with our project. Thank you.

If you would like some more information or to take part in the project, please
contact the student researchers, who will be happy to talk to you further and/or
arrange a meeting. Or you can contact us via the project email. All details are
listed below.

Student Researchers
Hamzah Ali:
Gerald Aliaj:
Faye Bowsher:
Vivian Davies:
Project Email:

Research Supervisor:
Dr Kate Terkanian, Lecturer in Modern History,
Faculty of Media & Communication,
Bournemouth University, BH12 5BB.
Email: Tel. 01202 968 816

In and Around Poole Quiz 2

Just to keep us all sharp, here is the second quiz from Colin Jones. Answers will be posted in a week’s time in the Answers section above.

  1. Who owned a famous yacht anchored near Brownsea Island called Elettra?
  2. On Studland Heath there are all six kinds of British reptiles. Name them.
  3. My wife “left” me in 1896 – why?
  4. What were the names of the two Purbeck clay mining companies that ran tramways down to Poole Harbour?
  5. What are the four surnames of the Drax family?
  6. What is unusual about the stag on the wall at the Drax Estate?
  7. Who made a false claim for the inheritance of which local estate?
  8. I have a famous local surname and lived for many years on a converted MTB moored off Long Island then Green Island. Can you name me?
  9. Explosions here in 1927, 1929 and 1931 killed a total of 14 people.
  10.  I owned 126 Panorama Road but never lived there. Who was I?
  11.  What was the year of the BDH fire?
  12.  1946 – 1994. What was I?
  13.  What is the surname of the Sunseeker founder?
  14.  Carter Stabler and ?? were the partnership that owned Poole Pottery.
  15.  What is surname of the father and son who rode for Poole Pirates?
  16.  What is the title of the book about the High Street hardware store?
  17.  Which leading local historian and ex Poole Town Clerk sadly died in January 2021?
  18.  One-time Poole based outboard motor manufacturer helping you to ‘fly’ across the harbour.
  19.  Which Roman Legion came ashore at Hamworthy?
  20.  What was the name of the group of Dorset men during the Civil War who threatened rebellion against both Royalist and Parliamentary forces?

Brownsea – A Special Address

This article was inspired by Joe Branson who supplied some of the information, pictures and family memorabilia. Sadly, Joe passed away a few weeks ago. I am indebted to him for his enthusiasm for local history, and to his son for kindly allowing me to post the article.

Brownsea Castle

In 1901, Charles Van Raalte and his wife Florence bought Brownsea Island, ushering in a happy period in the island’s history. Charles was a wealthy financier of Dutch ancestry with the resources to turn the estate into a luxurious home. The castle was in the final stages of rebuilding after being gutted in a fire five years before. The Van Raaltes were able to complete the process to their own tastes which included installing electricity, a telephone, central heating, and an electric lift linking the basement to the top floor. The castle contained 35 bedrooms, a dining room 50 ft. long, a billiard room and a music room to hold Charles’ collection of antique instruments. Outside were terraces and gardens, including an Italian garden, grass tennis courts, a croquet lawn and a 9-hole golf course. The Van Raaltes took up residence with their three children, Noel, who was twelve, Margherita and Gwen.

The Pool family also came to Brownsea in 1901 when Tom Pool was employed to fill the responsible post of head gardener, in charge of a team of ten. He and his wife Rose Emma came to live in one of the farm cottages near the castle, with their children, twelve-year old Amy, Lilian, Leonard, Albert and the baby, Dorothy. Tom’s job was to look after the grounds and pleasure gardens for the family and their distinguished guests (including European royalty) and provide flowers for the house and fruit and vegetables for the kitchen.

Charles Van Raalte

Most people of the period took it for granted that there would be a great gulf between the lives of ordinary working people and those of the wealthy. The Van Raaltes had a luxurious lifestyle, but they were also good employers, paying above average wages and interested in the welfare of their employees. They soon got involved in the life of the local community, and Charles became Mayor of Poole in 1902-3, even though he had never been elected to the council. He was also a magistrate and twice contested the East Dorset seat for the Conservatives but was unsuccessful. As a freemason, he joined the local Lodge of Amity as well as supporting local sports and sailing clubs and becoming Commodore of the Poole Yacht Club.

The Pool family settled into the small Brownsea community consisting of about 60 estate workers and their families. Some worked in the castle, the laundry, on the home farm or in the gardens, and there were gamekeepers, carpenters, builders, boatmen and even a golf professional. Brownsea had its own church, and a school was provided for the island children and a few of the coastguards’ children who came across each day from Sandbanks. Church services were usually conducted by the Rector of Studland but when the sea crossing was too rough, Tom Pool, a devout man, would sometimes officiate. Sunday in the Pool household was a day for family hymn singing and bible reading.

Rose Emma Pool

Charles Van Raalte was keen to employ people with musical skills and this included the Pools. Tom was a bell-ringer and Rose played the piano, a skill which Amy also later acquired. Shortly after acquiring the estate, Charles set up the Brownsea Island Estate Brass and Reed Band, formed entirely of estate workers, under the leadership of Alfred Campbell, the estate head carpenter. They were supplied with smart blue and red uniforms and performed for castle guests and at events on the Dorset mainland. Having his own band was also an asset to Charles during his political campaigning.  

Festive events were frequent on Brownsea during the summer. As the Bournemouth Graphic noted in 1904, ‘school treats, at-homes, garden parties, fancy dress balls, regattas, entertainments and banquets followed each other in . . . bewildering rapidity’. The hospitality of the Van Raaltes in inviting people to the island was famous, whether it was corporation employees, the Primrose League or members of the Dorset Field Club. When 3.000 to 4,000 members of the Primrose League visited over 4 days in 1906, they were brought over by steamers, chartered from Cosens and Co. and by Charles’s own steam yacht, Blunderbuss. The Van Raaltes also treated their tenants to entertainments as the Graphic describes in 1904.

Brownsea was a perfect playground for children. Noel, Margherita and Gwen Van Raalte were given freedom to play and explore, ride their ponies and learn how to sail. In August 1906, when Tom Pool accidentally fell into the sea from one of the piers, he was rescued by 15-year-old Noel, who was given a Royal Humane Society’s testimonial on vellum for bravery. The Van Raalte children, particularly ‘Miss Gwen’, often played with the estate children. Daisy Toms, daughter of the island bricklayer, was a friend of Miss Gwen and the two frequently got up to mischief together. Dorothy Pool sometimes rode Miss Gwen’s Shetland pony, started off by a ‘whack’ from its owner.

Brownsea Church

The Pools and other estate children also enjoyed hide and seek in the woods, climbing trees and skating on the lakes in winter. Dorothy Pool recalled her brothers, Leonard and Albert, once climbing up the outside of the church tower. Mounting more conventionally by the stairs, some of the children scratched their names and footprints in the soft lead of the tower roof. Boats were available for the tenants to use and the children learned to row and sail. Swimming, fishing and cockling were other favourite activities, and school concerts and pantomimes were a highlight of the year.

Living on an island could have its problems for those who, like Amy and Leonard Pool, attended secondary school on the mainland. Having won a bursary to attend the Poole Technical School, Amy had to cross every morning on the 8 am boat. Sometimes there was a boat returning from the Quay in the afternoon but if not, she would walk the 5 or so miles to Sandbanks and go across with the coastguard boat fetching the children from school. Attending music lessons in Bournemouth meant a rough walk for Amy from County Gates to Sandbanks and in the winter, Rose would worry about the children crossing the harbour in the dark.

In 1907, dispirited by his second failure at the polls, Charles Van Raalte set off for a trip to the far east with Florence and Margherita. Early in 1908, the shocking news came that Charles had fallen ill and died in India at the age of only 50. His body was brought back to Dorset and he was buried on Brownsea on 11th February 1908. A memorial chapel was built on to the church to hold an effigy of Charles in marble commissioned by his widow. It was a dark time on Brownsea, but gradually the sadness lifted, and life continued under the benevolent direction of Florence Van Raalte.

The Pool family finally moved on after seven years on the island and Tom set up in Parkstone as a grocer. Amy became a school teacher and Lilian a dress-maker while Leonard got a job as a clerk to an accountant. The family would experience tragedy over the next few years, first when Albert died in 1911 at the age of 14. When the First World War broke out, Leonard joined up and became a rifleman with the London Regiment. He was killed on 1st July 1916 and buried in Hebuterne Cemetery in France.

Dorothy Carr formerly Pool, Joe Branson’s mother-in-law.

Sisters Amy, Lilian and Dorothy all married and set up households of their own, but they never forgot their happy childhood time on Brownsea. One memento kept by the family reminded them of their first year on the island. When Queen Victoria died in January 1901, Rose wrote to the royal family like thousands of others to express her sympathy. A few months later a letter arrived from Buckingham Palace from the secretary to Queen Alexandra, thanking her for her condolences. The address on the envelope was a unique and fitting memory of a very special place.


Main sources: Battrick, Jack Brownsea Islander Poole Historical Trust 1978 /

Bugler, J and Drew, G A History of Brownsea Island Dorset County Library 1995 /

Moore, Peter, A Winsome Place Poole Historical Trust 2009.

Information supplied by Joe Branson

A Quiz in and Around Poole

Just to ensure that lock-down is not affecting our bain cells, here is a quiz courtesy of one of our members, Colin Jones. The answers will appear in the Answers section of the blog in a week’s time. There are no prizes, just a deep satisfaction in scoring as many correct answers as possible. Please remember the judge’s decision is final!

  1. This island is at the mouth of the harbour and can only be seen at low tide. 
  2. What is the full name of the Sandbanks Ferry operator?
  3. How many chain ferries have there been since 1923?
  4. Which is an island in Poole harbour: Otter Island, Short Island or Osprey Island?
  5. Pergins Island was called Doughty Island – true or false?
  6. List the name of the last five owners of Brownsea Island (Branksea Island) prior to the National Trust.
  7. I am now based in Leith but circa 1969 until early 2000 I was moored in Poole Harbour. What’s my name?
  8. A herd of wild sheep lived on Round Island in the 1950s. True or false?
  9. A brother and sister gave Upton House to the people of Poole. True or false?
  10. There was once a railway track on Brownsea Island. True or false?
  11. Gerald Durrell asked Poole Council for permission to open a zoo locally. True or false?
  12. A scientist who studied and worked in Germany was one of the chief scientists at Holton Heath Cordite Factory throughout the second world war. True or false?
  13. Enid Blyton once owned the lease on Studland Golf Course. True or false?
  14. What was the name of the notorious Sussex smuggling gang who raided Poole Custom House in 1747?
  15.  I owned one of the largest private libraries in England and after my death it took 17 days to auction my books. What is my name?
  16.  I was one of the founder members of the Dorset Wildlife Trust and instrumental in saving Brownsea Island from falling into private hands.
  17.  I was the first female English licensed race horse trainer.
  18.  Which father and son were golf club professionals at local golf courses?
  19.  Born in Poole 1947 I was part of a famous three-member rock band.
  20.  Who were the two Poole Miss Worlds and what years were they crowned?

Brownsea offer

Here is a special offer for Museum Society members – A Facsimile of:

An Illustrated Historical and Picturesque Description of the Island and Castle of Branksea, Dorsetshire by Philip Brannon 1857

With three illustrations by the Author: Branksea Island, the Castle & the Church.

28 pages    Size: 180mm x 120mm

Price to Poole Museum Society Members: £16 + £1.50 p&p (Normal price: £20)

Contact: Colin Jones at Limited copies available

Christmas Miscellany 4

Here is the final offering before Christmas. If you missed some of the others you can find them by clicking on the titles on the right hand side of the screen. This time we have a poem, (presented with profound apologies to Clement Clarke Moore) and a final little quiz.

First, details of something you might like to take part in after New Year:

The Visit of Saint Nicholas 2

(After Clement Clarke Moore)

And finally . . . .

The Landlady’s Carol Concert

The landlady of the local inn was fond of singing and particularly around Christmas time. As the season approached, local scenes reminded her of lines from popular carols. Can you guess which ones she was thinking of from these pictures? There is room for a lot of imagination here!

Pictures 1-2
Pictures 3-4
Carols 5-6

Answers, or at least suggested answers, will be posted as usual in a few days time.

I hope everyone will have a good Christmas in spite of whatever else is going on and let’s hope for a better New Year.


Christmas Miscellany 3

I hope you’ve managed to have a go at the last few quizzes and that they haven’t proved too obscure. Here are a couple more, plus a piece from the archives which takes us back nearly 400 years . . .

Pirates in the Channel -The Taking of the Anne

In the 1620s, Poole seamen had to face many dangers, but one peril which they most dreaded was to be attacked by Barbary pirates, known as ‘Turks’. These sea raiders from Algers, Tunis, Tripoli and Morroco had become a scouge in European waters and would take ships, cargos and the crews. Their unfortunate victims would be transported in chains back to North Africa and find themselves for sale in the slave markets of Tunis or Tripoli, with slim chance of ever seeing their home port again. The following is a report sent to the Privy Council in 1625 by John Harward, Mayor of Poole of one such capture, as told by the crewmen who (somehow) escaped.

Examinations concerning Turks in the Channell ao 1625


The examinations of Nicholas Nurrey, Robert Rapson and Thomas Marryner taken before ye right worpll John Harward Maior of the towne and County of Poole, Thomas Roberts, Thomas ffrances and William Hill esq. Justices of the Peace wthin the sayd towne ye sixth daye of August 1625o

Nicholas Nurrey sayeth that on Thursday the 4th of this psent August being bound for Croysick in ffrance in the Anne of Poole burthen xx tunnes, Robert Rapson, Thomas Marryner and Nicholas Jerrard (a youth of twelve yeares of age) in company wth him, he was surprised and taken by a Turkish man of warr betweene Loo and deadman some eyght or nyne leagues south south west of Plymouth, whoe beate him verye cruellye and toke awaye from him such commodityes as was abord him wth their victualls, apparrell and their boye, Nicholas Jerrard above named: and further sayeth that there were five more shipps of Turks in company wth them wch pursued after three Skottish shipps then in company wth this ext: whoe also sayeth that two of those Turks had twentye pieces of ordynance abord each shipp, and that the two other shipps were of very great form of some eyght or nyne skore tunes and that they had taken divse shipps of Bristoll and Barnstable, and other smale barques driving upon the streame.

Robert Rapson and Thomas Marryner saye that they being abord ye Turke that toke them, they saw some three skore English captives lyeing in chaynes in the hold of ye man of warr, wch had been taken in ye channell out of shipps of Bristoll, and a Barnstable man fro virginea and fishermen driving upon the streame, and further saye that an English captive (taken as he was bound for Newfoundland ye last season) being att ye helme in the Turk, told the above named Thomas Marryner, that there were twentye sayle of Turks att sea about this coast & the coast of ffrance or hovering betwixt Bellyle and Ushant to make their praye on all his Maties subiects tradeing to and fro twixt England and ffrance especially on the newfoudlandmen expected homeward wthin this moneth, threatening that wthin these 2 yeares they would not leave ye king of England sayles to furnish his shipps to sea.

                                                                                                Jn  Harward Maior

How did they escape? It is not explained but it seems the boy Nicholas was not so fortunate.

On a lighter note, here are a couple of quizzes to challenge you:

Apprentice’s Word Search

It is 1757 and John Healy, a poor boy of Sherborne, has just been apprenticed to merchants Brooks and Lemon of Poole, until he reaches the age of 21, to learn ‘the art or mystery of seafaring, fishing and curing fish’ . Next season, John will make his first voyage out to Newfoundland, but in the meantime he is trying to take in all the unfamiliar sights of his new home and understand the tasks he must perform for his masters. Can you find the words and phrases buzzing round his head, which are hidden in the square below, including four types of vessels, two merchants, cargos, places, officials, ports and more? To make it more difficult they have been tossed around so they are horizontal, vertical and diagonal and may cross each other and read in either direction. (If you click on the square, it will open in a new tab and can be printed out.)

Drunken Sailor’s Spree

Poole sailor, Thomas Barnaby has been found in a drunken sleep in Fish Street at 2 o’clock in the morning and thrown into King Street gaol to sleep it off. Next morning in the magistrate’s court it appears that having got a shore job after 20 years seafaring, he decided to celebrate his last voyage with his mates by touring pubs across Poole, Hamworthy, Longfleet and Parkstone. Where he has been is harder to find out as he can only manage a vague description of their names, and when asked to write them down, seems unable to remember any vowels. Can you interpret where he has been on his spree?

The answers to last week’s quizzes can be found by clicking on the ‘Answers’ tab at the top of the page.


Christmas Miscellany 2

This week we’ve got another short article and a couple of quizzes to help you relax from your Christmas preparations.

Poole’s Logboat in Context

The Poole logboat at Hamworthy after discovery

From time to time over the years, amazing discoveries have been made in river valleys, lakes and fens, a gravel pit in Derbyshire, a sea lough in Country Antrim and the waters of Poole Harbour. Fragile, water-logged fragments of logboats have emerged from the mud, bringing us face to face with the ingenuity of ancient people. Logboats have an extremely long history. The earliest ones known in Europe date from 7,000 to 8,000 BC and the most recent are still in use in Scandinavia. In the British Isles the oldest examples are from the middle Neolithic period, the 4th millennium BC, and the last may have been made in the 18th century. The Poole logboat dates from around 300 BC making it part of an already ancient tradition.

Most logboats have been found in freshwater contexts, such as rivers, lakes and estuaries where they must have mainly operated, being unsuited to the rougher waters of the open sea. These are also areas where fine grained silt and mud can settle and aid preservation of the timber. A few boats have turned up in sheltered marine areas such as the north east coast of Ireland, but the Poole logboat is one of very few English examples to be found in a marine setting. It was discovered in 1964 during dredging near Brownsea Island and brought up in two pieces. One other example of a marine logboat was found in Langstone Harbour between Portsmouth and Hayling Island, like Poole Harbour a sheltered area of the coast. At the time that the Poole logboat was in use, the harbour was more like a large lake. The sea level was then 2-3 m lower than today, exposing large areas of mudflats now submerged, and only shallow draft vessels would have been able to navigate most of the channels.

Around 96% of the British logboats, including the Poole boat, are made of oak. There are very few examples of other wood being chosen, but it is not clear why. Oak trees are long-lived and can grow to considerable size. They were often used as ‘timber’ trees for big building uses while other species were coppiced. They also have a reputation for strength and durability which may go back to ancient times and could have influenced the boatbuilders’ choice for such an important project.

Working on a replica of the Poole logboat at Cranborne.

The first stage of making a logboat was to choose a suitable tree, with a long, straight trunk and wide diameter, and without many low branches or a pronounced taper. After felling the tree and removing the branches, the bark would be stripped off and the interior hollowed out using an axe or adze or in some cases, burning. The boat had to be both strong and light and also well balanced, and the holes found in some vessels are thought to be for measuring the thickness of the hull during construction. The interior would then be smoothed out and the whole boat shaped and streamlined. Many logboats had a transom or panel at the stern, fitted into a slot and then caulked to make it watertight. The Poole boat obviously had one, as the slot is visible, although the transom itself is missing.

The size of a logboat is obviously dependent on the size of the tree trunk. One of the largest English logboats, found near the River Humber at Brigg in Yorkshire, was 14.8m long and 1.4m wide. It was destroyed in an air raid in 1942. Another Yorkshire boat found at Hasholme was 12.8m long and was probably worked from a trunk of about 14m. A tree of this size must have been 700 or 800 years old and have weighed 20 tons or more. At this age it would probably have a rotten core, which would make it lighter and easier to hollow out. Smaller boats of 4-6m were also made, like one of just over 4m from the River Hamble dating from Saxon times. At 10m, the Poole boat was among the larger ones.

A close up of the Poole boat showing one of the holes in the bottom.

Although the basic structure of logboats is standard, there can be many refinements. Tool marks and repairs using strips of thin wood and stitching are often found. One of a number of logboats found in Lough Corrib, County Galway has a raised spine running along the bottom with 4 cross ridges dividing the boat into sections. The Poole boat is also divided by ridges but without the central spine There are also a number of holes drilled in the base, perhaps as thickness gauges or to fix some internal structure. A medieval boat from Lough Corrib has 4 plank seats and holes for oars while the Hasholme boat is fitted with washstrakes, movable boards attached to the bows to protect against spray when in motion. Most spectacular of all are the 8 or 9 Iron Age logboats found at Must Farm near Peterborough some of which are decorated with elaborate tool marks while one is fitted with oak handles for carrying.

Over the millenia, logboats must have been put to many uses. The charred fragments of one boat found near St. Albans, dating from around 4,000 BC, contained burnt human and animal remains, and probably played a role in funerary practices. Another one of about 1,400 BC, found in a gravel pit at Shardlow in Derbyshire, contained a cargo of sandstone from a local quarry and may have been used as a barge, towed behind another boat. Axes and spearheads were found in the same quarry, and weapons have been found in connection with quite a few boats, suggesting use in warfare or as a power statement. The Must Farm boats seem to have been deliberately sunk at different times, although they were still in good condition, so there might have been a ceremonial aspect to their role. There are no particular clues to the use of the Poole logboat. It would have certainly been handy for transporting agricultural and other products along the winding channels of the harbour, and maybe for fishing or hunting birds. A replica of the Poole logboat made in 2013, provided insight into how the original was built and also the impressive seaworthiness and speed of such a vessel.

The Captain’s Table Crossword

The Betsey has just arrived at St. John’s and the captain is entertaining his crew at dinner to celebrate a successful voyage. As the wine circulates, the talk turns to ships, merchants, voyages, cargos and sea-faring exploits of the past. Solve the puzzle to discover what they are talking about.

Note: if you click on the puzzle it will open in a new tab and you can print it out.

The Lookout’s Log

The Happy Return of Poole is just entering the harbour after a hard passage from Cadiz. As she slowly approaches the Quay, a young officer amuses himself by noting landmarks through his telescope. They are all familiar to him but can you identify them?




Good luck! The answers for last week’s quizz are in the Answers section. See the tool bar at the top of the page.


Christmas Miscellany 1

In the run-up to Christmas I thought I would do a mixture of short pieces and quizzes as a sort of advent calendar / blog. In keeping with the current Museum Project, they will have a maritime theme. So as not to drive myself and the readership crazy, I am not intending to post one a day but as weekly offerings. In this first installment we have a short article and a not too serious quiz. I hope you enjoy them.

1 The Garden that Grew

It is hard to realise that when William Jolliffe built his mansion house in West Street around 1730, his garden led straight down to the sea. A map of 40 years later shows a jetty close to the end of the Jolliffes’ garden, on the site forming the approach to the twin sails bridge today. West Quay Road did not yet exist, but the shore, lined with mudflats and timber ponds, was in the process of gradual but inexorable change. Too few maps remain from the 18th century to show the development of the area in detail, but property documents can help to fill in the picture. A series of transactions relating to another West Street property provides an example.

Jolliffe House (indicated) and garden and the jetty from a map of c. 1774

Elizabeth Bason died in March 1731, apparently just a month after her husband Abraham, leaving her messuage or house in West Street to her son Andrew, then about 17 years old and the residue of her estate to Andrew and his brother William. In April 1739 Andrew, now a shipwright, married Sarah Budden and in July of that year sold the West Street property to Thomas Sheppard, a labourer, for £20. The premises consisted of a messuage, turfhouse (ie. fuel store) and the use of the well in the court. There was also a garden 54ft long and 34ft wide ‘abutting against the sea’, with land formerly belonging to Benjamin Skutt on the east, John Trew’s land on the west and the street to the south.

Ten years later in December 1749, Thomas Sheppard agreed to sell his garden to shipwright Nicholas Fabian for 6 guineas. The garden was described as 66ft long and 34ft wide with the sea to the north, Dorothy Harvey’s land to the south, John Lester’s land to the east and other land belonging to Nicholas Fabian to the west. In a decade, the garden had surprisingly grown by 12ft.

Nicholas Fabian seems to have been a man going up in the world. Over 15 years he acquired at least seven properties in West Street. In 1747 he bought a dwelling and turfhouse from sisters Elizabeth Dickery and Jane Writtle and in 1749, acquired the Sheppard premises. In 1751 John Trew and his family mortgaged a tenement to him, consisting of one lower room, two chambers (bedrooms), a skilling (lean-to), pantry and turfhouse, ‘adjoining the new building of Nicholas Fabian in West Street’. There was also a garden, with Thomas Bennet’s land on one side and Robert Harvey’s on the other. The same year, members of the Gardiner and Harvey families sold him a tenement and turfhouse, both described as ‘ruinous‘, with a garden. The description of the property included a mention of Fabian’s ‘new built tenement’ and his ‘workshop and timber yard’. In 1759, he bought a property from John Trew and another tenement, turfhouse and garden from Robert Harvey for £45, and in 1762, he paid Harvey £15 for ‘an old decayed messuage, dwelling house, turfhouse and skillion’.

The probable location of the Sheppard property in 1751 (left) and 1774 (right). No. 76 on the later map is a bathing house.

A redevelopment process was taking place. Fabian bought up these small, fairly basic houses, many of them probably 100 years old or more and some rundown and dilapidated. Then he demolished some of them, and build new houses and workshops for his business. Equally important was the land he acquired with its access to the sea and its potential for expansion. Exactly whereabouts his new holdings were located is hard to work out. One major clue in the case of Thomas Sheppard’s land is that the sea was said to be to the north and the street to the south. There is only one part of West Street where this applies and that is at the north end, between West Butts and Hunger Hill. His other properties were probably located further down the street.  

Nicholas Fabian had several business interests. Advertisements in the press show him offering new ships for sail, but he also had a bakehouse. In 1749, he was accused of practicing as a baker without serving the necessary seven years apprenticeship, but found not guilty. When he died in 1771, he was able to leave a property to each of his seven surviving children and his grandson plus the bakehouse and a blacksmith’s shop in Hamworthy. His wish was for the properties to remain in the family.

Nicholas’s son Edward, also a shipwright, inherited the former Sheppard property and in 1788, he conveyed it to his sister Sarah’s husband, William Mendell. Nine years later, in 1797, Mendell sold the garden to merchant Benjamin Lester, its dimensions being given as 144ft long and about 50ft wide. In other words, over the last 50 years, the garden had gained another 78ft in length and 16ft in width, evidence in legal form of reclamation from the sea. By the early 1800s, the shoreline had retreated a long way from West Street. Properties occupying the foreshore were connected by a line of pathways parallel to West Street, soon rationalized into West Quay Road.

The 19th century saw businesses being set up on former mudflats west of the new road, while the site developed by Nicholas Fabian was occupied by houses, a saw mills, the Wheatsheaf Inn, St.Mary’s Roman Catholic Church and School, and George Garland’s Almhouses. Today RLNI buildings and Sunseeker yards stand there, evidence of change and renewal in a particularly dynamic area of the town.


2 Admiral’s Multi-Choice Quiz

The year is 1630 and you have just been elected Mayor of Poole and therefore ex officio Admiral of the Port. Congratulations! But how much do you know about the regulations of the port and harbour? Get up to speed by taking this quick diagnostic quiz.

1. How far does your jurisdiction extend to the east?

a) To Bournemouth pier b) As far as a 42-gallon barrel can be seen floating on the sea. c) The distance 6 men can row in 10 minutes or d) Up to a line drawn between North and South Haven points.

2. A man is accused at the Admiralty Court of buying lobsters before they reach the market. What is his offence called?

a) Anti-marketeering, b) Regrouting, c) Forestalling or d) Clawing back

3. When should a sail be spread between a ship and the shore?

a) When loading and unloading ballast, b) In hot weather, c) When doing repairs or d) On washing day.

4. What ancient document is read out during perambulations of the sea bounds of Poole?

a) The Longespee Charter, b) The Domesday Book, c) Magna Carta or d) The Winchelsea Certificate.

5. The Water Bailiff is in trouble for not providing two planks for the Quay. What are they used for?

a) Testing for thickness, b) Repairing the sea wall, c) Dunking pirates into the sea or d) Loading and unloading ships.

6. Why can fishermen not catch fish in the harbour with a drift net before 15th August?

a) Because they are on their holidays, b) Because the harbour water is too cold, c) To spare young fish and conserve fish stocks or d) Because it is said to be bad luck.

7. The Admiralty Court meeting is to be held in the accustomed place but where is that?

a) The town house in Fish Street, b) Broomhill in Hamworthy, c) Poole Museum meeting room or d) Via Zoom from your living room.

8. You know the meaning of ‘anchorage’ and ‘cellarage’ but what is ‘beamage’?

a) A ship measured sideways, b) Dimensions of roof structures, c) Payment for having goods weighed or d) The result of too many mayoral dinners.

Answers to follow next time.