Poole Quay - Poole's historic quayside
Steeped in history with tails of smugglers and pirates, in modern times Poole Quay is a bustling tourist attraction.
Poole Harbour is the second largest natural harbour in the world and on its shores just two miles inland there is the famous Poole Quay. Or perhaps infamous, because as early as the 13th century there were pirates, including the notorious Harry Paye, bringing their ill-gotten gains to the Quay for sale or distribution to other parts of the south west.
During the Second World War, the Quay was a major departure point for the Normandy Landings, whilst large flares were also placed on the western end of the Brownsea Island to mislead the Luftwaffe bomber pilots and drop their bombs away from the port of Poole. This deception is thought to have saved Poole and nearby Bournemouth from many destructive bombings during the course of the war.
Did you know?
Poole played a key role during the war, the flying boats connecting us the world, Dunkirk small boats, raiding parties, D Day trials and being one of the largest embarkation points for D Day itself.
In more recent times, Poole Quay has been a major tourist attraction, initially for the world-leading Poole Pottery and its factory / visitor centre. Although the pottery is now made in the Staffordshire Potteries, a large retail outlet remains on the Quay, with a wide display of pottery and the venue for children’s pottery painting classes. Poole Quay is home to Sunseeker International, the flagship and dealership for new and pre-owned boats and luxury motor yachts. There are plenty of coffee shops, restaurants, and traditional pubs along the quayside, with seafood and traditional fish and chips a speciality. In the summer season most of the facilities stay open until the late evening.
As you walk along the Quay you will see the life size bronze statue of Lord Baden Powell looking across the Harbour to Brownsea Island where he started the scout movement.
In August 1907, he held a demonstration camp, the Brownsea Island Scout camp, which is now seen as the beginning of Scouting.
There is also the Sea Music Sculpture by Sir Anthony Caro, an impressive work of art. Why not climb it to the top and take in the spectacular views over the quayside and harbour?
Fisherman’s Dock at the eastern end of the Quay is where you will find the Old Lifeboat Museum. This building is open to the public and offers a close-up view of one of Poole’s historic lifeboats. Here too is a shop with its gifts, souvenirs and much more.
Why not take the children on the cockleshell walk along the Quay and into the old part of the town. You follow the numbered cockle trail signs set into the paving slabs which link with the number in the cockle trail leaflet guide’s text. There is a street map and leaflet for all local attractions at the Poole Museum (free entry) and history buffs and holiday visitors alike can enjoy exploring Poole’s historic Old Town. ‘Crabbing’ on the Quay is popular and both children and adults can spend an enjoyable few hours seeing how many they can catch! A bucket, crab line and bait can be purchased on the quayside.
There are also Poole boat charters, harbour cruises. fishing trips, with nearby Baiter a great location for all types of water sports and woodland and coastal walks. The Quay itself has a full events calendar throughout the summer season including the annual Poole Boat show and ‘Poole goes Vintage’. At many of the events there is live music and other entertainment. Of course a family favourite are the fireworks at dusk on Thursday nights from 21 st July to 25th August 22. You may also be fortunate enough for your visit to coincide with the mooring at the Quay of the largest traditional sailing ships in Britain or one of many ultra-modern superyachts owned by billionaires who visit the town, sometimes to have a vacation at their homes at Sandbanks and the elite residential areas of Canford Cliffs and Branksome Park.
So when you aren’t on Sandbanks beach topping up your tan or bathing in the warm, crystal clear water, come to Poole Quay where there’s never a dull moment!