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 cjjp76@gmail.com 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.

Theft in the Family

On 30th June 1815, less than two weeks after news of the great victory of Waterloo, members of the Dalley family from Broadwinsor in west Dorset were gathered together for a solemn ceremony. John Dalley, just turned sixteen, was to be bound apprentice to John Pretty of Poole, who was a woolcomber and hosier and also young John’s uncle (although I have not been able to discover the precise link between them). The indentures binding Dalley ‘for seven years to learn the art of a woolcomber’ were duly signed by apprentice and master and by Dalley’s brother Richard as witness. John’s father, James Dalley, a lime burner by trade, set his mark to the document and it was time for congratulations all round.


John Pretty was a prosperous trader, probably based in Fish Street (now Castle Street) off Poole Quay. Woolcombing was the process of combing fleece to remove tangles and align the fibres before spinning, but Pretty also made stockings and other garments.  How Dalley adjusted to his new life in the woolcombing trade we do not know. Two years into his seven-year term, the sad news came from home that his mother Sarah had died. She was buried at Broadwinsor church on 7th August 1817. In December that year, John Pretty gave information before the mayor of Poole, James Seager, that money had gone missing several times out of the desk in his sitting room and three bundles of ‘knit guernsey frocks’ (i.e. woollen jumpers as worn by fishermen) had vanished from the storehouse. He suspected his servant Thomas Churchill and apprentice John Dalley as being responsible. There is no record of official action being taken against the pair, but it seems that Dally’s apprenticeship was over, and he found himself back in Broadwinsor.

A couple of months later in February 1818, John planned a burglary of his uncle’s home with a friend, 20-year-old William Hallson, a sail-cloth weaver from Broadwinsor. According to later testimony, Dalley had often asked Hallson to go with him on this expedition. Several of John’s brothers and sisters also knew about the scheme. His older sister Hannah said that she would tell their father, but John threatened to kill her and their brother William if they spoke a word about it. Another sister, Charlotte, gave John a shilling to help with the journey to Poole and threw an old shoe after them for luck as they left. The two set out on Sunday 1st February and arrived in Poole on Monday evening. That night they put a ladder against a chamber window of Pretty’s house and Dalley got inside while Hallson removed the ladder. Soon after, Dalley came out of the cellar window with a bundle of goods and they left the area. However, this was not enough for Dalley who said he wanted more. Returning to the house they successfully abstracted more articles before leaving for good.

Old shop, Poole High Street

That evening, before going to bed at 9.30, John Pretty had fastened all the windows and doors. In the morning he found the front upstairs window, the doors between the house and the shop and his bureau all open. He quickly realised that items were missing, including silver spoons, silver coins to the value of £7 or £8, several foreign coins, a watch, a Newfoundland bill of exchange for £10 and a promissory note for £8 7s 0d. Articles taken from the shop included knit frocks, stockings, handkerchiefs, shawls, shirts and lengths of fabric. The burglars had known where to find the goods and crucially, where the keys were kept. Given his recent experiences, Pretty’s suspicions were probably soon fixed on his nephew. This suspicion was strengthened to near certainty when a neighbour, tailor Thomas Galton, reported that he had seen Dalley and another youth in the tap room of the nearby Swan Alehouse the previous evening between 9 and 10 pm and had even had a brief conversation with them.


Pretty went to the authorities and laid information that ‘sometime last night his dwelling house was feloniously and burlarously broken open’ and goods stolen. He named Dalley as a suspect. With two local constables, Robert Saunders and Francis Frampton, he set off on a chase across Dorset enquiring on the way for traces of the thieves and the stolen goods. The first stop was Wareham where they found out that someone had tried to change a Newfoundland Bill at the Christchurch Bank, but had been refused. Frampton who had ridden ahead of the others enquired at the Red Lion and found that two young men had hired a gig from the landlord, the Dorchester coach being full. They offered him a Spanish coin, but he refused it. The pursuers discovered that suspected pair had stopped at Winfrith, and hot on the trail, they pressed on to Dorchester. Here enquiries revealed that the couple had split up, both heading for Bridport, one by mail and the other in the ‘Coburg’ coach. At Beaminster they found no trace of the pair but obtained reinforcements in the shape of two local constables, and then set off on foot to Broadwinsor.

When they reached the village, a man in the street pointed out Dalley’s home. Mr. Morey or Mooney, one of the Beaminster constables, called Dalley out of the house and Saunders seized him by the collar and took him into custody. The missing watch was found in the street, probably dropped by Dalley when he was arrested. He was taken to a nearby weaver’s shop to be searched, and the Newfoundland bill was found in his possession. John Pretty and the others still did not know the name of Dalley’s accomplice but according to Saunders’ testimony, they managed to extract it by threatening ‘the brother and sister’ (presumably William and Hannah or Charlotte) with arrest. Hallson was found hiding in a hayloft at another house with the stolen promissory note, various bank notes and other stolen articles in his possession. Two bundles of the missing goods were found, one under a loom in his workplace.

Dorchester Prison Admission record

John and Charlotte Dalley and William Hallson found themselves in Dorchester gaol awaiting trial, Charlotte as an accomplice or accessory because she had wished the others luck and received a pair of stockings. The prison admission record describes John as 5 ft 6ins tall with a fair complexion, brown hair and grey eyes. William Hallson had dark hair and hazel eyes and was only 5 ft 11/2 ins tall. Both had cuts and bruises, probably from rough handling during their arrest.  Meanwhile enquiries in Bridport revealed that the pair had sold various stolen items to local traders, such as a guernsey knit frock sold to Matthew Knight, pawnbroker, and some foreign coins and silver spoons bought by silversmith James Kenway. William, Charlotte and Hannah Dalley were questioned, and William admitted that ‘some time before his mother died, and several times since her death his brother John Dalley, then living with his uncle Mr. Pretty sent down bundles to Richard Dalley another brother of his who lived in Broadwinsor’. These bundles contained stockings, gloves, handkerchiefs and frocks which William believed to be his uncle’s property. It seems John Pretty’s earlier suspicions were justified.

Courtroom, Shire Hall, Dorchester

The case was tried at the Dorchester assizes on Saturday 14th March 1818. Given the overwhelming evidence, it is not surprising that John Dalley and William Hallson were found guilty, but mercy seems to have prevailed in Charlotte’s case and she was acquitted. On 23rd March, Dalley and Hallson were sentenced to death. However, they were reprieved and the sentence changed. Each was to be ‘transported for and during the term of his natural life’. On 20th May they were taken to Portsmouth and put on board the Laurel prison hulk in Gosport Harbour where they spent five no doubt miserable weeks awaiting their passage. They sailed on board the General Stuart on 30th June, bound for Australia. As a consequence of their actions, their lives had changed utterly, and their homes and families were now lost to them. Dalley later said that the voyage was ‘something like a dream’ to him. On 31st December 1818, they arrived Sydney to start their new lives of servitude.

In Poole, John Pretty’s business seems to have prospered. In 1841, the census recorded him and his family still living in Fish Street. Ten years later, John had retired and at the age of 83, he was living with his wife Mary at ‘Loscomb’ in Parkstone (presumably Luscombe Valley near Sandbanks). He died in 1856 and in his will left a number of properties including two houses in Hill Street, Poole to his surviving two sons and three daughters.

Luscombe Valley view

On the other side of the world, John Dalley and William Hallson survived the first grim decade of their punishment. After ten years of hard work, tough living conditions and severe punishment for any rule breaking, they were granted their tickets of leave, allowing them to live and work in a designated district of the colony. Dalley was then living in Bathurst in the interior, about 125 miles from Sydney and working as a footman in the house of John Street, one of the free settlers who were now coming out to the colony in increasing numbers. He married a fellow servant and convict Catherine Spillane and they moved to Sydney in 1831 where he became a shopkeeper and raised a family. He received an absolute pardon in 1838.

The Dalley house from Sydney in 1848 by Joseph Fowles
Statue of William Bede Dalley in Sydney.

Australia was a place of punishment but it also proved a place of opportunity. John Dalley died in 1871 at the age of 72, at his house in Macquarie Street, a prosperous and respected trader. Like his uncle John back in Poole, he owned several properties to bequeath to his children. His eldest surviving son, William Bede Dalley went on to become a barrister, politician, writer, member of the legislative council, Attorney-General for New South Wales and the first Australian to be made a member of the British Privy Council – strange and unforeseen consequences of one night’s illegal adventure in Poole in February 1818.


Main sources:

DC-PL/C/B/13/4/4 Apprenticeship Indenture John Dalley to John Pretty of Poole June 1815

DC-PL/C/B/7/68 Case against John Dalley and William Hallson Feb-Mar. 1818

OPC Dorset Broadwinsor Parish Records at https://www.opcsdorset.org/BroadwinsorFiles/Broadwinsor.htm

Dorchester Prison Admissions and Discharge Registers 1782-1901 on Ancestry Poole Census 1841 and 1851 also on Ancestry at https://www.ancestry.co.uk/

Hamworthy’s Lost Beach

Continuing our intermittent Hamworthy theme, this article is based on material kindly supplied by Joe Branson of Corfe Mullen. A photograph of Joe and his sons taken about 51 years ago, shows them enjoying the beach at Hamworthy near the former Poole Yacht Club building, just visible top right. The old Hamworthy railway line can be seen behind them. To the left are the premises of Greenslades, leading fishmongers, and in the centre the familiar sight of the old power station chimneys.

Joe Branson with his sons in the 1970s

The sandy beach was very popular with locals as it avoided the drive out to Sandbanks or the western area of Hamworthy near the Royal Marine camp. Although the photo might give that impression, it was not in any way a ‘down market’ beach – quite the contrary. The sand was brown due to the dumping over many years of broken but harmless sea shells.

Joe’s photograph of the view today

Half a century ago there was no major harbour or ferry terminal. The bigger ships used Poole Quay and the docks opposite, long before the name Sunseeker had been heard of. Since then, of course, there have been great developments in the port with the start of freight and passenger ferry services to Cherbourg, the creation of Ro/Ro berths and a yacht marina and deepening of the channel. Reclamation has increased the size of the port area to some 60 acres.

Former Yacht Club, now Poole Harbour Commissioners’ Harbour Office with the railway line in the foreground.

Today, the scene where the picture was taken has changed in many ways. The beach is buried under stones, concrete and tarmac. The old yacht club building is still there but now occupied by the Poole Harbour Commissioners, the club having relocated further up the peninsular. The old railway line is also still in existence, looking very rusty, and Greenslade’s premises occupy the same spot, but the power station and its chimneys have gone. A photographer taking the same view now would be standing in the middle of a traffic roundabout and having to keep a sharp eye out for container lorries.

Extensive Sunseeker buildings.

With many thanks to Joe for the information.


Going Round the Back Way

In Victorian times, Poole was full of back streets, lanes and alleyways with colourful names, Dark Alley, Barber’s Piles, Rose Court, Eight Bells Lane, Palace Place, Slade’s Yard, Caroline Row to name just a handful. The fact that their names changed frequently, underlines the unofficial even nefarious nature of some of these passageways. Once in a while the town would be visited by officialdom in the form of a census enumerator or perhaps a map surveyor from the Ordnance Survey. Standing at the entrance to some dark, unnamed alley, the official would probably hail a local inhabitant and ask what it was called, no doubt getting some rather misleading replies. Perhaps the process was not quite as haphazard as this, but it is doubtful how legal some backstreet names ever were. Most of them probably never started out with official names but just acquired local nicknames which changed over time. Some were descriptive (Broad Lane, Cork-Screw Alley). Others related to the nearest pub (Coach and Horses Lane, Swan Alley, Bull’s Head Yard). Many referred to people who lived nearby or had created the passageway in the first place (Ballard’s Passages, Rozier’s Lane, Hancock’s Alley, Gutch’s Yard).

Before the 18th century there were relatively few alleyways in Poole because the town was spacious for its population and there were usually gaps between the buildings. Most of the town’s minor roads were lanes curving between fields like the picturesque-sounding Nightingale Lane which led from Towngate Lane to Pillory Street, (now in the middle of the Hunger Hill traffic complex). It was in Nightingale Lane that Robert Meades met with a fatal accident in 1623 while ‘shrouding’ or removing the top growth from a tree. Being seized by giddiness in the head he tried to climb down but fell some 14 feet to the ground. His widow, Elizabeth was later granted tenancy of their one-acre ‘close’ or field on the east side of the lane.

c. 1634 map showing the Quay, Thames St. and Thames Alley

It was when the town streets became more built up, that alleys were needed to provide access to the backs of the premises. The first detailed street map of Poole, the Pythouse map of around 1634, shows this process in its early stages. One old alley shown on the map runs from Salisbury Street to Thames Street between Scaplen’s Court and the next-door property, with a right-angle turn in the middle. In medieval times this area would have been a prime spot for development, where the High Street met the eastern end of the Quay at the inlet known as Measurer’s Gap. The alley still exists today under the name of Thames Alley. (See Stroll 1) Another backstreet shown on the map is Cinnamon Lane curving from New Street to Church Street, giving access to the backs of properties. Cinnamon Lane has now been realigned to run behind High Street as far as the Antelope Inn. (Stroll 2)

Looking back down Thames Alley with Scaplen’s Court house and garden on the left.

The process of building houses and passageways is sometimes revealed in property documents. George Trew was a prosperous helier (tiler) in the early 17th century who built or acquired houses for his children behind his own house in West Street. One of the houses is described as having the use of a court, well and garden, plus paths and thoroughfares leading to the piles (jetty) and egress to West Street. Another was in a court and had a turf-house (fuel store), a garden next to the sea, use of the well and access to the street at a street door made by George Trew for all the tenements. Leases often stressed access to vital facilities such as wells, pumps, stores and jetties which could sometimes cause friction between neighbours. In her 1678 will, the widow Alice Melledge, owner of the Antelope Inn in High Street, left a house and shop in Church Street to her daughter Elizabeth Emerson, and the Antelope itself to her unmarried daughter, Alice junior. The legacies were conditional on each sister allowing the other access to a passage ‘to and from my dwelling house called the Antelope and from one street to another’. Both of them were also to be allowed to lay their ashes and soil (waste) in an area where there had been an old stable, without any hindrance from the other. You get the definite impression that the sisters did not get on very well.

Gardens and alleys stretching from Strand St. with High Street (4) to the north, from the 1634 map.

The Pythouse map shows a series of alleys off Strand Street which developed by reclamation of the foreshore. Imagine a single row of cottages looking out on to a shingle beach. Natural processes and a bit of help from the inhabitants caused the build-up of the beach and the retreat of the sea. The beach became a thoroughfare and eventually more cottages were built on the seaward side, creating Strand Street. The reclamation process, (never strictly legal) continued. Cottage owners began to build jetties, stores and other buildings in their extended back gardens, including the building now known as the Poole Arms, which dates from the early 17th century. The spaces between the plots, (useful for conveying items between the street and the shore without going through the houses), became fixed as lanes and alleys. If they had names at this stage, the map does not reveal them.

Back view of the Poole Arms

In 1723, the Corporation decided to carry out a survey of reclamation along the shore, particularly in the area between high and low water mark, which was considered waste land belonging to the town. Many cases related to the Strand Street area but there were examples from all round the shore. Giles Hosier had ‘erected a building near Bennet’s old house’, and John White had built a quay ‘against the land of Giles Hosier’. A quay called Parson’s Quay had been built on waste ground belonging to the Corporation. Charles Anstey, a mason and bricklayer, had ‘taken in and built on a piece of Corporation property 14 ft long and 18 ft wide and also built a quay outside this building.’ Thomas Nickleson was reported for ‘enclosing a quantity of ground from the sea to make a quay by throwing dirt, earth and rubbish therein’. The Corporation ordered some structures to be removed, but on the whole had to accept the status quo.

The Strand area from Hutchin’s map of c. 1774.

By the middle of the 18th century, the plots leading from Strand Street were mostly built up and a series of quays had been constructed, putting an end to individual reclamation. From west to east the lanes between Strand Street and the Quay had the colourful names of Ditch Lane, Bennet’s Alley, Crabb Lane, Rogers’ Lane, Rozier’s Lane, Mud Lane, Button’s Lane, Pluddie Lane, Smock Alley, Pelly’s Lane, Petty Lane and Sutton’s Piles. Although many people still lived there, the Strand was not a very salubrious place, with the waste and smells of many trades. In 1831, George Clement was presented at court for his slaughter house in Cork-Screw Alley and three years later, John Brown was in trouble for keeping pigs in Swan Alley.  The district abounded with inns and drinking houses, drunkenness and fist fights were common and prostitutes plied their trade in the dark and unsavoury lanes.

From the mid 18th century, the Strand area became increasingly commercial, as larger warehouses gradually replaced the cottages and small stores. In 1779, for example, merchant George Kemp acquired land on Strand Street and Little Lane, demolished the tenements on the site and built a warehouse, malthouse and stable. Later the premises were owned by Tom Rickman, a corn factor, who also built a stable on Coach and Horses Lane (formerly Hosier’s Lane), south of Strand Street. From about 1813, lamps were installed to relieve the darkness of the alleys first on oak supports and then iron. Today the name Coach and Horses has long gone, together with its eponymous pub, but Hosier’s Lane has made a comeback. The sequence of alley names is: Bennett’s Alley, three anonymous alleys, Hosier’s Lane, Bull Lane, Ball Lane, Button’s Lane, Castle Street and two more nameless lanes. A few old houses and several massive 19th century warehouses still remain, squeezed into the narrow plots. Recently, residential use has returned to the area in the form of modern flats. (See Stroll 3).

The old town and the Quay are of course not the only areas with lanes and alleyways. In their Victorian heyday, a network of alleys, passages and courts connected the main streets, High Street to Lagland Street and Church Street, Market Street to West Street. Many still remain, sometimes realigned, widened, narrowed, or truncated like the well-known Bowling Green Alley, and a lot cleaner than they once used to be. It is worth following them to see where they lead and enjoy views of the backs of buildings, often surprising and historic. And this brings me to the Backstreet Strolls. Next time you are in the old town, why not have a go a one of these short walks? Click on the guides and print them out – and I apologise in advance for telling you things you already know!


Backstreet Stroll 1

Backstreet Stroll 2

Backstreet Stroll 3