Poole Museum unlocks the Quay to the Harbour

January 15, 2014

Logging On

ANCIENT RELIC: The remains of the Poole Log Boat which carbon dates to 2,300 years and is said to have been made from a giant oak that was part of the ancient forests that prevailed in Dorset at the time.


Poole Museum

MARITIME HISTORY: I am pictured in the atrium and entrance of Poole Museum, which was part of the renovations carried out in 2007. The entrance was designed by architects by Horden Cherry Lee and was part of the refurbishments made possible by fund-raising and the Heritage Lottery Fund. Picture by David Russell


Sea Melody @ Quay

PARKING UP: The tanker Sea Melody nestles into port with it’s cargo, shortly to be unloaded.



QUAY SIDE: Some the boats moored up with nets waiting to be used for the next day.

THREE floors of culture, living history and the arts and crafts show how Dorset’s biggest port has evolved over the centuries.

Poole Museum, formerly known as the Waterfront Museum, lies alongside Lower High Street in the Old Town area of town. It was renovated in 2007 and now has a range of displays from archaeological ones to pottery ones.

The museum has a wonderful entrance that includes a visitor lounge and terrace with magnificent views over the harbour and the old town.

Dominating the ground floor is the Poole Log Boat. It was made from a single tree trunk from around 300 – 200 BC and is a relic of the area’s ancient forests.  It is the largest one ever found in southern Britain, is thirty feet long and this is the only one to have ever to have been preserved in sugar.

The vessel was uncovered in the harbor during dredging in 1964. However it was left submerged for 30 years as archaeologists and other experts decided what they wanted to do with it.

It was eventually restored by members of York Archaeological Trust and dried for two years. The boat was 33ft long and could have accommodated a maximum of 18 people.

The oak used to make the log boat is likely to have been from a giant tree close to the water’s edge. Branches would have been removed and the trunk hollowed through a combination of burning and chipping with iron and flints. These tools would have been in short supply at the time it was built.

Some videos have been put together by Roy Joyce and Joan Loader listing the contribution of the various fishing industries that make their living in the harbour.

Poole owes its existence to the fishing industries.  Poole fishing boats bear the registration letters “PE”. It was originally a fishing village that supplied the Manor of Canford and prior to that, the oysters particularly exploited as a resource by the Saxons and Romans.

Crabs and lobsters are collected by local fishermen all year around and 3,000 tons of these and other shellfish are landed in Poole annually, contributing £25M to the local economy. After the pots are emptied, they are re-baited and laid down again. Lobster pots are fragile components.

Any fish or shellfish under-size are returned to the sea. Lobsters are checked for oversize claws and sometimes secured for transport.

Ian Davies farms mussels in the harbour and manages 20 tons of mussels on beds that are laid. It takes 18 months for them to fatten up. They are pumped out  in one-ton bags via a hopper and are distributed on the sea beds in a zigzag course.

Poole’s fishing industry enjoyed its heyday during the 1700s and 1800s when it was part of the booming Newfoundland cod industry with the catches being preserved in salt.

Poole used to send men and supplies to Newfoundland and returned via southern Europe to pick up supplies of wine, olive oil and other items.

Many people migrated to Newfoundland and local links remain with thirty per cent of the island’s population claiming Dorset ancestry.  It was also revealed that some of the population in Newfoundland still speak with a Dorset dialect.

I have only scratched the surface of what lies with the museum’s walls, so to get the full menu or better still visit the museum’s website and see the town’s history for yourself. Take the opportunity to go as admission is free.

  • UNTIL 24 March, Poole Museum is open from 10am-4pm from Tuesday to      Saturday, but not Mondays. It is also open midday-4pm on Sundays. From 25      March, opening hours are Monday to Saturday, 10am-5pm and Sundays,      noon-5pm. For more information call 01202 262600 or e-mail museums@poole.gov.uk




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