Poole is a large coastal town and seaport in Dorset on the south coast of England. The town is 32 kilometres (20 mi) east of Dorchester, and Bournemouth adjoins Poole to the east.
The Borough of Poole was made a unitary authority in 1997, gaining administrative independence from Dorset County Council. The town is the second largest settlement in Dorset.
Human settlement in the area dates back to before the Iron Age. The earliest recorded use of the town's name was in the 12th century when the town began to emerge as an important port, prospering with the introduction of the wool trade. In later centuries the town had important trade links with North America and at its peak in the 18th century it was one of the busiest ports in Britain.
During the Second World War the town was one of the main departing points for the D-Day landings of the Normandy Invasion.
Poole is a tourist resort, attracting visitors with its large natural harbour, history, the Poole Arts Centre and award-winning beaches. The town has a busy commercial port with cross-Channel freight and passenger ferry services. The headquarters of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI), luxury yacht manufacturer Sunseeker, and Merlin Entertainments are located in Poole, and the Royal Marines have a base in the town's harbour. Poole is home to Bournemouth University, The Arts Institute at Bournemouth and the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra.
Poole is located on the shores of the English Channel and lies on the northern and eastern sides of Poole Harbour, 179 kilometres (111 mi) west-southwest of London. The oldest part of the town (including the historic Old Town, Poole Quay and the Dolphin Shopping Centre) lies to the south-east of Holes Bay on a peninsula jutting into the harbour, although much of the land to the east of the peninsula has been reclaimed from the harbour since the mid 20th century.
To the west is Upton and Corfe Mullen and across the northern border at the River Stour lies Wimborne Minster. At the eastern edge of Poole, the town abuts Bournemouth and the settlements of Kinson, Winton and Westbourne. To the south of Poole along the coast lies Poole Bay, featuring 4.8 kilometres (3.0 mi) of sandy beaches from Sandbanks in the west to Bournemouth in the east.
Situated directly to the east of the Jurassic Coast, Poole is a gateway town to the UNESCO World Heritage Site, which includes 153 kilometres (95 mi) of the Dorset and east Devon coast important for its geology, landforms and rich fossil record. The South West Coast Path stretches for 1,014 kilometres (630 mi) from Minehead in Somerset, along the coast of Devon and Cornwall and on to Poole. The path is the United Kingdom's longest national trail at 1,014 kilometres (630 mi).
Poole Quay is a visitor attraction to the south of the Old Town, lined with a mixture of traditional public houses, redeveloped warehouses, modern apartment blocks and historic listed buildings. Once the busy centre of Poole's maritime industry, all port activities moved to Hamworthy in the 1970s as the Quay became increasingly popular with tourists. The Grade II listed Customs House on the quay-front was built in 1814 and now functions as a restaurant and bar. Nearby is the Grade I listed Town Cellars, a medieval warehouse built in the 15th century on the foundations of a 14th century stone building, and now home to the local history centre. Scalpen's Court, another Grade I listed building on the quay, also dates from the medieval era.
The Poole Pottery production factory once stood on the eastern end of the Quay but the site was redeveloped into a luxury apartment block and marina in 2001, although an outlet store remains on the site. Boats regularly depart from the quay during the summer and provide cruises around the harbour and to Brownsea Island, the River Frome and Swanage.
Public artworks along the Quay include 'Sea Music' - a large metal sculpture designed by Sir Anthony Caro – and a life-size bronze sculpture of Robert Baden-Powell created to celebrate the founding of the Scout Movement. At the western end of the quay near the mouth of Holes Bay is Poole Bridge. Built in 1927, it is the third bridge to be located on the site since 1834.
The Guildhall is one of Poole's iconic buildings and has played an important and varied part in the history of the town. Now a Grade II listed building, the Guildhall was built in 1761 at a cost of £2,250. The new building included an open market house on the ground floor and a courtroom and offices for the town council on the first floor. The building has also been used as a Court of Record, Magistrates' Court, Court of Admiralty and a venue for Quarter Sessions. Between 1819 and 1821 the building was consecrated as a Parish Church while the old St. James Church was pulled down and replaced with the present church.
During the Second World War the building was used as a canteen and meeting room for American soldiers prior to the invasion of France. The showers and washing facilities installed at this time were later converted into public baths which were used until the 1960s. The building was converted for use as the town museum between 1971 and 1991 but stood empty for the next 16 years. After a renovation project funded by Poole Borough Council, the restored Guildhall opened in June 2007 as a Register Office for weddings, civil partnerships and other civic ceremonies.
Poole has several urban parks – the largest is Poole Park adjacent to Poole Harbour and the town centre. The park opened in 1890 and is one of two Victorian parks in Poole. Designated a Conservation Area in 1995 and awarded a Green Flag in 2008, the park comprises of 44.3 hectares (109 acres) of which 24 hectares (59 acres) include the park's man-made lake and ponds. The park contains two children's play areas, tennis courts, a bowling green and a miniature golf course.
A cricket field and pavilion at the eastern end are home to Poole Town Cricket Club and water sport activities such as sailing, windsurfing, kayaking and rowing take place on the large lake. A war memorial stands in the centre of the park as a monument to Poole citizens killed during the First and Second World Wars. A £2 million refurbishment of the park in 2006 involved the construction of an Italian restaurant and an indoor ice rink for children. The park hosts several road races such as the Race for Life and the Poole Festival of Running which attracted approximately 1,200 entrants in 2008
BEACHES OF POOLE
Poole's sandy beaches are a popular tourist destination extending 4.8 kilometres (3.0 mi) along Poole Bay from the Sandbanks peninsular to Branksome Dene Chine at the border with Bournemouth. The beaches are divided into four areas: Sandbanks, Shore Road, Canford Cliffs Chine and Branksome Chine. Poole's beaches have been awarded the European Blue Flag for cleanliness and safety 21 times since 1987, more than any other British seaside resort. In 2000, the Tidy Britain Group resort survey rated Poole's beaches among the top five in the country.
Along the seafront there are seaside cafés, restaurants, beach huts and numerous water-sports facilities. Royal National Lifeboat Institution Beach Rescue lifeguards patrol the coastline in the busy summer season between May and September.
Poole Harbour and Poole Bay are popular areas for a number of recreational pursuits, including sailing, windsurfing, surfing, kitesurfing and water skiing. The harbour's large areas of sheltered waters attract windsurfers, particularly around the northern and eastern shores. Water skiing takes place in the harbour in a special designated area known as the Wareham Channel. The waters around the harbour, Poole Bay and Studland Bay are also popular for recreational angling and diving. Poole's wide and sandy beaches are used for swimming, sunbathing, water sports and sailing. The beaches at Sandbanks are often used for sporting events such as the Beach Volleyball Classic, and in 2008 it hosted the inaugural British Beach Polo Championship.
Poole Harbour is one of the largest centres for sailing in the UK with yacht clubs including Lilliput Sailing Club, Parkstone Yacht Club and Poole Yacht Club. Parkstone Yacht Club hosted the OK Dinghy World Championships in 2004, the J/24 National Championships in 2006 and the J/24 European Championships in 2007, and are the organisers of Youth Week and Poole Week – two of the largest annual dinghy regattas of their type in the country.
From Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia
POOLE HOTELS & ACCOMMODATION
ENGLAND TOURS, TRAVEL & ACTIVITIES
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