History of Poole
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Poole’s natural harbour gave access to the River Frome and entry into south and south-west England. Trade flourished and was the reason for Poole’s growth and importance in history.

For 2,500 years there has been human settlement in the area around modern Poole. The disadvantage of being such a good access point meant that Poole also suffered a number of invasions.

In 43 AD the Romans landed at Poole and worked their way inland, eventually driving out the local Durotriges hill tribes from Maiden Castle and Badbury Rings near Dorchester. These tribes relocated to Poole.

Poole and its harbour were a base for fishing and a convenient place for ships to anchor before proceeding up the River Frome to the important Saxon town of Wareham. The Vikings made a nuisance of themselves until King Alfred the Great’s navy drove them out in 897.

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Norman Conquest
With the conquest of England by the Normans in 1066 the country was united under one ruler and a system of feudal government introduced. Wareham declined in importance but Poole grew.
In 1248 the Lord of the Manor sold a Charter of Liberties to the Burgesses of Poole in order to raise funds for him to go on the Seventh Crusade. This Charter gave Poole the right to appoint a mayor and hold a court within the town. It also granted an exemption from certain tolls and customs duties on goods from the Port.
The next really key boost to Poole’s importance as a port came in 1433 when King Henry VI granted it Staple status. This meant that Poole could export England’s most lucrative commodity, wool. The medieval merchant’s town house (Scaplen's Court Museum) and the Town Cellars, Poole wool store date from this period.
Staple status also allowed Poole to receive a license for the construction of fortifications; a wall and ditch were constructed and a stone gatehouse was erected on the northern side of the town.
The latter half of the 15th and early 16th centuries saw Poole become a refuge for pirates harassing the French and Spanish fleets. The town continued to grow and gained greater independence when Queen Elizabeth I granted the Great Charter in 1568.
In 1497 John Cabot discovered Newfoundland and its incredibly rich shoals of cod. The salt-fish trade was established and by 1528 records show that large quantities of salt - an essential ingredient for the salt-fish trade was being landed at Poole.
English Civil War (1642-51)
During the English Civil War (1642-51) most of the counties surrounding Poole were Royalist supporters but not Poole which was staunchly Parliamentarian.
Corfe Castle guarding the gap through the Purbeck Hills was a Royalist stronghold but in 1646 a Parliamentary army from Poole laid siege to Corfe Castle. The Royalists surrendered and Parliament ordered the destruction of the castle to ensure that it could never stand again as a Royalist stronghold.
King Charles I was executed but his exiled son never forgot what had happened to Corfe Castle. When Charles was restored to the throne one of his first acts was to have the fortifications of Poole demolished as retribution for their support of the Parliamentarians.
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Cod Fishing Trade
From the late 1600s until about 1815 Poole enjoyed a period of unprecedented prosperity. The recognition of Newfoundland as British territory made possible the development of the cod fisheries and the associated Newfoundland trade.
The trade was a three-cornered route; ships went out to Newfoundland loaded with salt and provisions. The cod, caught, dried, and salted in Newfoundland was brought back to the ports in Catholic Spain, Portugal and Italy. Finally the ships returned to Poole with wine, olive oil, dried fruits, and salt.
In the early 18th century, Poole had more ships trading with North America than any other English port, thus bringing vast wealth to Poole's merchants. In 1802 there were 350 ships in the Poole fleet.
The evidence of this prosperity is in Poole’s magnificent Georgian buildings - ‘Beech Hurst’ Mansion in Old Town, the Customs House on Poole Quay and St James Church, Poole, a classical early Georgian church in Old Town. Many of the medieval buildings were demolished and replaced with elegant merchant’s houses which still line the streets of Old Town.
The Napoleonic wars with France had been a Godsend to the Poole/Newfoundland trade but it all fell apart when Napoleon was defeated in 1814 and many Poole merchants faced ruin.
The Industrial Revolution
The Industrial Revolution and the coming of the railway in 1847 put paid to the coastal shipping trade but industries which had grown up around the port were able to send their product by rail. At the same time the Victorian seaside resort of Bournemouth had brought tourism to the area.
Although Poole itself never became a seaside resort, the coastal villages to its east have now joined up with Bournemouth. Poole provides services and industrial employment for this vast conurbation.
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World War Two
During the Second World War Poole became an important base for the American Allied forces. The U.S. Coast Guard’s ‘Rescue Flotilla One’ of 60 cutters was moored in Poole Harbour. These U.S. Coast Guard cutters patrolled the D-Day invasion areas, with 30 serving off of the British and Canadian sectors and 30 serving off the American sectors.
Poole was the third largest embarkation point for D-Day landings of 'Operation Overlord'. Eighty-one landing craft containing U.S Army troops from the 29th Infantry Division and the U.S Army Rangers departed Poole Harbour for 'Omaha Beach' in France. A plaque on the Quay commemorates the cutters’ departure for Normandy and an ensign hangs in St James' Church, Poole in the Old Town.
In the 1960s major redevelopment of Poole started providing modern housing for the population but 15 acres (6 hectares) of the Old Town with many of the historic buildings still intact has been preserved.
Modern Poole
Modern Poole is a busy cross-channel port, a ship building centre for luxury motor yachts, a fishing port with trawlers bringing in delicious local shellfish, an Arts Complex and tourist centre blessed with golden sandy beaches.  
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