Poole, Dorset (1816)

This description of Poole, Dorset, England is taken from The representative history of Great Britain and Ireland by Thomas Hinton Burley Oldfield published in 1816

Poole is a borough, sea-port, and market-town in the hundred of Cogdean, division of Shaston, Dorset, six miles from Wimborne, and 106 from London; containing 9*9 houses and 4,761 inhabitants, viz. 2,091 males and 2,670 females, of whom 608 were returned as being employed in trade, manufacture, and handicraft. It lies on the borders of a very narrow dreary heath, being a peninsula joined to the parish of Langford by a neck of land. The town is about three-quarters of a mile long and half a mile broad, and consists of three or four considerable streets, running nearly from north-eas-t to south-west, besides a cross street parallel with the quay, with several intersecting lanes. The buildings are generally low, but of late years the town has received several handsome additions. The chief traffic is the Newfoundland trade and fishery, which proves an excellent nursery for the navy. The exports in provisions, nets, cordage, sail-cloth, and wearing apparel, for the consumption of the planters and servants, are very great. The imports are cod, salmon, oil, seal-skins, furs, &c. There are constantly employed about 230 sail of shipping belonging to this port, (with 1,500 hands,) of which about 140 are in the foreign trade, and the remainder coastwise. The harbour is reckoned the best and safest in the Channel, as the ground is every where soft, and water sufficient at spring tides for vessels of 16 feet draught to come up to the quay. There is a long narrow neck of land which projects from the south-east part of the Isle of Purbeck, called South-haven Point, and another from the main land of Dorsetshire called North-haven Point. The distance between these is about a quarter of a mile, forming an entrance to the bay and harbour of Poole. The quays have been very much enlarged and improved at different times; the great quay is 192 feet long, at the east end of which stands the custom-house; the new quay is 34 feet long. On the Ham side of the harbour there are quays to careen ships, to throw out and take in ballast, with several slips for building. The communication across the harbour is by means of a large passage boat, which is hauled by a rope stretched from one side to the other; each passenger pays one halfpenny, and every family 4d. annually. The town sessions are held by tke mayor and justices of the peace four times a year. When any criminal cases are to be tried, one of the judges of the circuit comes hither in his way to Dorchester, and holds the assizes, but civil cases are generally tried at Dorchester. Market on Thursday and Monday. Fairs, 1st May and 2nd November.

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