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Trivia Guide


For more in depth historical information please contact the Local History Centre link will open in new window at Poole Museum

This list has been created not so much as a formal reference work but as a source of inspiration and fun!

Sea Music
The sculpture on Poole Quay, ‘Sea Music’ was designed by the world famous sculptor Sir Anthony Caro link will open in new window .

The Most Beautiful Woman in the World?
Out of all five Miss Worlds from Great Britain, Poole had two winners – Anne Sidney in 1964 and Sarah-Jane Hutt in 1983.

I Spy an Author
Born in Poole in 1931, and famous for his spy novels, David John Moore Cornwell is his real name but he is better known by his pen name John le Carre.

Poole’s Theory of Evolution
Co-Author with Charles Darwin of the ‘Theory of Evolution’ was Alfred Russel Wallace of Broadstone, Poole.

Beverly Hills II !
Poole has been home to: Professor J R R Tolkein, author of ‘Lord of the Rings’ & ‘The Hobbit’, the composer Mantovani, ‘Wakey, Wakey’ band leader the late Billy Cotton, entertainer Roy Castle and John Lennon’s Aunt Mimi. Augustus John, the artist, lived at Alderney Manor in Poole.
Current residents include Football Manager Harry Redknapp. 


Made in Poole - Poole is famous for the companies it keeps, including:

  • Poole Pottery link will open in new window – hand made Poole Pottery can be found in many leading stores such as Harrods, and Tiffanys of New York, although no longer locally produced it remains a collectable item. 
  • Ryvita link will open in new window – Manufacturers of the UK’s most popular healthy eating snack for over 75 years.
  • Penske Cars link will open in new window – Team Penske are the most successful Indy car race team in the history of motorsport. Since 1973 the cars have been principally designed and parts built in Poole.
  • Mathmos link will open in new window – Poole is the home of the Mathmos lava lamp – over ¼ million lava lamps are produced each year.
  • Lush link will open in new window – This distinctive wacky cosmetics company make hand made toiletries & cosmetics all from natural cruelty-free products which are sold all over the world.

Sunseeker International link will open in new window – building boats in Poole for over 40 years. One of the best known names for luxury motor yachts in the world today. 

Strike it Lucky!
Under Poole Harbour is Western Europe’s largest onshore oilfield, Wytch Farm link will open in new window , operated by Perenco. It has produced well over 150 million barrels and currently holds the world record for the largest land based drilling rig and the longest horizontal well at 8km.

Poole at War

  • The folding canoes known as ‘cockles’ used by the cockleshell heroes, were made in Poole.
  • During the Second World War Brownsea Island was used as a decoy to protect important munitions factories.
  • Poole was the third largest embarkation point with 81 landing craft leaving Poole Harbour for the Normandy shores.
  • Poole was an important centre for the development of Combined Operations, USNAAB established here, plus US Coastguard No 1 Rescue Flotilla of sixty cutters. A US Coastguard ensign is laid up in St James’s Church. There is also a plaque on the quay given by men and women of the United States Coast Guard which commemorates these 60 cutters departing for the Normandy Invasion 6 June 1944, and expresses the appreciation of the kindess of the people of Poole to the crews.



British Overseas Aircraft Corporation

On 3 August 1940 the first BOAC flying boat passenger flight across the Atlantic by a British Commercial Airline took off from Poole Harbour. Poole was home to the southern headquarters of BOAC until the D-Day evacuations.

Radio Fame
Marconi broadcast the first ever radio signals from the Haven Hotel at Sandbanks to the Isle of Wight in 1896.

Tony Blackburn, who began his career with  Radio Caroline and became a well known Radio DJ was born in Lilliput, Poole. 

RNLI Lifeboat Saving Lives
Poole is home to the RNLI Headquarters link will open in new window and trains crews from all over the world. It also has the busiest lifeboat station – hardly surprising as Poole Harbour is one of the UK’s leading water activity areas.

Capital Town
Poole was regarded as the commercial capital of Newfoundland (Britain’s oldest colony) at the height of the cod trade in the 18th century. The salt cod trade brought vast wealth to a group of Poole merchants, which they lavished on the fine Georgian Mansions still to be seen in the Old  Town.

Silver Screen

  • The Oscar winning ‘The African Queen’ features footage shot in Poole Harbour.
  • The World War II film ‘Heroes of Telemark’ was filmed on Poole Quay.
  • Part of '2001 – a Space Odyssey' was shot at Compton Acres in Poole.
  • In 2008 - 'Morris a Life with Bells on' starring Sir Derek Jacobi on was shot in Poole with Sandbanks Beach standing in for the golden sands of California.  
  • The BBC Drama “The Scolds Bridle” was filmed in Poole – along with the “Missing Postman” featuring James Bolan.
  • The BBC series 'The Collectors' from the 80's was filmed on location in Poole.
  • The main theme music and five more songs from the 1986 Hollywood film 'Down and out in Beverley Hills' starring Bette Midler, Richard Dreyfuss and Nick Nolte, were recorded at Arnie's Shack (now Active Studios) in Penn Hill by the guitarist from the 'Police' Andy Summers.
  • The latest filming in Poole took place summer 2014 for the second 8 part series of ITV1's Harbour Lives link will open in new window about Poole Harbour and its people. 
  • E.R.N.I.E.
    The original computer ERNIE used for the Premium Bond draw was designed and made in Poole.

Natural History

Poole is reputed to be the largest natural harbour link will open in new window in Europe. Some of the world’s finest oysters and mussels are bred in Poole Harbour. Over 20,000 birds winter every year including the Black Headed Gull, Bartailed Goodwit and Brent Geese. There are over 18 sites of special scientific interest and nature conservation and Poole Habour’s Brownsea Island is home for one of the few colonies of red squirrels in England.

Bourne in Poole

Bournemouth University is actually situated in Poole and the home for the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra link will open in new window is now the Lighthouse, Poole’s Centre for the arts.

Smuggling tales

One of the most famous and daring smuggling incidents The Custom House Raid took place in Poole in 1747. 60 armed smugglers broke in to regain a contraband cargo of tea that had been seized. Even earlier, in 1405, the quay was attacked by Spanish raiders, seeking vengeance for the spoils of Harry Paye , the infamous Poole Pirate. His memory is kept alive every year with charity fun day by the Pirates of Poole link will open in new window, supported by Poole Tourism.

The first scout camp link will open in new window was on Brownsea Island in 1907.  Scouts from across the world came to celebrate the centenary of the Scouting movement with a special camp on the island in 2007.

History of Poole

  • Poole gets its name from a corruption of the Celtic 'bol' and Saxon pool.
  • By the early 13th century it was a town of importance and charters such as the Longspee of 1248 and Montacute of 1371 confirmed its status.
  • The office of sheriff was created by the Great Charter of Queen Elizabeth I, and Poole is one of the few towns still to have a sheriff.
  • The King Charles Inn is named after King Charles of France who fled to Poole in 1830.
  • An Iron Age boat (c295 BC) was discovered in Poole Harbour.
  • The Boat House, Hamworthy has items out of the ship The Mauritaina. Only open to the public during Dorset Heritage week by appointment only.
  • Brownsea Island has been called various names, Bruncksey, Brouneckesey, Brankesey and Branksea before finally settling on Brownsea. Between 1927-1961 Mrs Bonham-Christie, a recluse owned the island and would not allow anyone on to it.

The Chines
Branksome Chine: in the 18th century, Branksome Chine is said to have been a regular route for smugglers as they headed inland to the Kinson Area. It also has a link with a great literary character: John Betjeman, former Poet Laureate, once wrote:

 ‘walk the asphalt path of Branksome Chine/In resin scented air like strong Greek wine’

In 1932 a solarium opened in one of the buildings where the restaurant is situated. It was the only one of its kind in Britain at the time and offered ‘sunshine’ all year round. The sunbathing took place under ultra-violet lamps and drinks were served by waitresses!

Branksome Solarium


They came from Poole.....

Blue Plaques in Poole
Marconi – Haven Hotel, Sandbanks
Augustus John – Lord Nelson, Poole Quay
Henry Lamb – Hill Street Car Park, Poole
WW2 and D-Day - Alcatraz Restaurant, Poole High Street
Flying Boats and WW2 - Salterns Hotel
Flying Boats - Harbour Heights Hotel
Mantovani - Burton Road, Canford Cliffs
Victor Watkins The First Kings Scout - Indian Restaurant, York Road, Broadstone
Sir Peter Thomspon, Native of Poole - Market Close, Poole

Edgar Wright link will open in new window was born in :Poole and after attending Bournemouth University went on to direct Spaced and co wrote and directed Shaun of the Dead with Simon Pegg.

David Croft, one of the writers of 'Dad's Army' was a member of Poole's Civil Defence Corps when he was 17!

On 21 June 1988 a dramatic fire ripped through the BDH factory in West Quay Road, setting off a series of explosions blowing forty-five gallon chemical drums hundreds of feet into the air.   Nearby traffic lights melted in the heat and more than 100 fireman tackled the blaze.   In the largest peacetime evacuation in the UK up to 5,000 people and their pets were removed to safety overnight.

Poole Sports

  • Rodney Pattisson won two Gold Medals for sailing at the 1968 and 1972 Olympics, as the best yachtsman in the world in the Flying Dutchman class.
  • Sam Rockett was the first Briton home in the 1950 International Cross-Channel race (winning £250 for his successful crossing) and subsequently advised and trained many other hopeful swimmers.   Three later Poole swimmers have crossed the Channel, Samantha Druce (the youngest to do so), Marc Newman and Eddie Ette.
  • Jeanne Bisgood of Parkstone Golf Club was the English Ladies Amateur Golf Champion in 1951, 1953 and 1957 and made eight appearances in the English national side, notching  up the first ever win over America in the 1952 Curtis Cup. 
  • Freddie Mills the boxer was born in Poole in 1919. 

Poole Pirates (Poole Speedway link will open in new window )

Speedway racing has taken place at the Poole Stadium every year since April 1948 and the club is one of the best supported sides in the world. Indeed we are the current Elite League champions. The Pirates have won 12 league titles since 1948 and the Knockout Cup, speedway’s equivalent of the FA Cup on two occasions. Tony Rickardsson ( 2001 and 2002 ) and Mark Loram ( 2000) won the World Individual title while riding for Poole, and four riders have won the World Under 21 crown during their time at the club. They were American, Ronnie Preston in 1979, Jason Crump ( Australia ) in 1995, Lee Richardson ( England ) in 1999 and Krzysztof Kasprzak ( Poland ) in 2005.

Poole made speedway history in October 1948 by becoming the first club side in the world to tour Sweden. They flew from Northolt to Stockholm for a three match tour, at a time when even the English football side rarely played outside of the British Isles. The Pirates made return tours to Sweden in 1953 and 1955, and also rode in Denmark in 1955. The Pirates even ventured behind the Iron Curtain in 1959 when they made a five match tour of Poland, making a host of friends, and returned there again for another 5 match tour in 1969.

Apart from the triumphs, Poole Speedway has also had its share of tragedy, with four riders paying the ultimate price for racing highly powered motor cycles around a tight dirt track.   Reg Craven riding for Yarmouth, died of injuries sustained in the very first race of the very first match at Poole in 1948, since when Malcolm Flood of Norwich and two Poole riders, Johnny Thomson and Kevin Holden, have also died from injuries received while racing at Wimborne Road.

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