Poole Quay is the centre for tourist attractions - both old and new. The Quay itself is great for a promenade in the sun imagining sailing one of the luxury cruisers made or moored at the quayside. There is a good choice of bars, restaurants and cafes popping up in both the historic buildings lining the Quay or in the newer developments springing up along the water's edge. No visit to Poole would be complete without taking a look at how the world famous Poole Pottery is made and hand painted.
In the Old Town that lies behind the Quay you'll find plenty of beautiful historic buildings from Poole's seventeenth century trading heyday. Follow the Cockle Trail to find out more about historic Poole or visit one of the museums clustered in the medieval buildings in the Old Town.
Poole Quay is the centre for the tourist attractions. Its tall and varied buildings have retained the historic character of a seventeenth century port.
Poole Welcome Centre is your first port of call for tourist information. It's on the Quay and you can find all sorts of information including the Cockle Trail leaflet which is a walk through the Old Town, marked by brass cockles set into the pavement, past historic buildings and sites that were scenes of all sorts of incidents. Pick up the leaflet for a brief history of the different locations which help bring its history to life.
Poole Welcome Centre, Poole Tourism, Enefco House, Poole Quay, Poole, Dorset BH15 1HJ. Tel: 01202 253253.
Poole Quay is the location for a variety of events throughout the year. Every Tuesday from 6pm in April to September is the Dream Machines event, the biggest weekly motorcycle event in the UK. Other events include live music and street entertainment and car rallies. There's a good choice of bars, restaurants, cafes dotted around Poole Quay and the old town. For shopping the Quayside development is quickly growing with a variety of retail outlets. If you walk further from the Quay and the Old Town you'll come to Poole's shopping centre where there are avenues and shopping centres with a wealth of independent shops and high street names.
The Old Town is everything you'd expect from a seventeenth century seaport you can just imagine the Red Coats running through the windy streets searching out smugglers and their booty! In fact the Custom House was the scene of an attack by smugglers in 1747 after a cargo of smuggled tea was seized. Sixty armed smugglers broke into the Custom House and made off with the contraband. Several of them were later tracked down and hanged.
The Old Town has medieval roots, but was largely remodelled during the Georgian period by the wealthy Newfoundland merchants that settled here. Their trade was based on salt cod caught in Newfoundland and exported to Mediterranean countries from where olive oil, wine and salt was brought back to Poole.
Several of their grand homes still stand behind the original wrought iron gates such as West End House. Its baroque decoration includes urns and pineapples at the top of the facade which were symbols of the wealth of the Newfoundland traders. This house was built for John Slade and then later was home to the Carter family who founded Poole Pottery.
Apart from its maritime heritage and history, Poole is famous for producing Poole Pottery that has produced a huge array of ranges from late Victorian through Art Nouveau and Art Deco and Modernism.
The pottery started in the 19th century when the Carter family bought a derelict pottery on the site of today's pottery on Poole Quay. The clay from which pots were made came from an area north of the town and being located so close to the harbour made it an excellent choice for exporting his goods. At this time Poole Pottery was renowned for tiling and mosaic products. It wasn't until the nineteenth century under the management of Charles and Owen Carter with the help of the Head of the Design Department, James Radley Young, that Poole Pottery developed its distinctive style.
By the 1920s and 1930s collaborations with designers and artists outside the family led to the production of a wider range of domestic items distinctive for their bright hand decoration in a variety of styles. Some of the ranges were named after local places such as Studland and Purbeck.
Poole Pottery is still going strong today despite World Wars, takeovers and changes in trends and designs. The designs all have a distinctive earthy feel with a variety of patterns ranging from elegant, virtually all black to vibrant, sunny colour schemes. All are hand painted and range from traditional to contemporary designs. You can visit the Poole Pottery Studio and see the modellers and artists at work as well as having a go yourself! There is also a factory shop that stocks Poole Pottery, including the Cats and Dolphins range which is only available through the Poole shop, as well as a range of other gifts, clothing and shoes. Check the link right for more information. Poole Pottery Studio is on The Quay, Poole, Dorset BH15 1HJ. Tel: 01202 668 681. Fax: 01202 677 528. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Just back from Poole Quay is the recently refurbished Poole Museum. This contemporary building in the heart of the Old Town houses a range of themed galleries looking at boats & trade, the development of the port and town, beginnings of the Harbour, Poole clay as well as how people lived worked and played. The star exhibit is the Iron Age long boat discovered off Brownsea Island in 1964.
The museum if free to enter and there are some stylish public spaces including a terrace and visitor lounge giving you panoramic vistas over Poole Harbour and Old Town.
The museum if open from March to November, Mon-Sat: 10am-5pm. Sun: 12 noon-5pm.
Attached to the Museum is the Local History Centre in the medieval Town Cellars. This is a must for those researching local history or wanting to consult the archives.
Just across the road from the museum is Scalpens Court, a medieval town house. This former merchant's house has been restored and has a walled garden and central courtyard. It is the most complete medieval domestic building in Poole. School children use it as a learning centre with its Victorian school room, pharmacy, toy room, kitchen and scullery.
Scaplen's Court is open to the public during August. Scaplen's Court Museum, 4 High Street, Poole BH15 1BW. Tel: 01202 262600. Email: email@example.com