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Borough of Poole Council collections

A generous grant means that Poole's historic archive of more than 1,600 boxes of parchment and paper covering 800 years can be catalogued.

The National Archives and contributions from a range of other supporters has resulted in funding of £34,867. The archive contains written records of the town's history ranging from its founding charter in 1246 to the current unitary authority.

Highlights include records of the Newfoundland Trade, the town's courts and ownership of land across the borough. One document shows the purchase of gunpowder used to fight the Spanish Armada and another bears the signature of famous smuggler Isaac Gulliver.

The archive is housed in climate controlled strong rooms at Dorset History Centre in Dorchester, home to the county's Joint Archive Service, which is funded by the three councils of Poole, Bournemouth and Dorset.

Funding was gained through a competitive national application process, with only one other archive collection in the south west receiving a grant. It will pay for an archivist for 18 months and a searchable online catalogue will be created allowing anyone to research the town's history.

"Poole has a fascinating history," said Cllr Xena Dion, Borough of Poole cabinet portfolio holder for a prosperous and sustainable Poole.

"This project means that these valuable and fragile documents, which have to be stored in strict environmentally controlled conditions, can be viewed by almost anyone."

Poole's archive is recognised as being one of the largest and most important of its type and it is hoped its cataloguing will enable it to be opened up to a new audience.

Sam Johnston, county archivist, said: "The strength of this archive is demonstrated by the fact that we were able to acquire grant aid in what has been a highly competitive process.

"Poole's records are a vital part of its identity and provide evidence of the town's past dating back nearly 800 years. We are proud to hold this superb collection at Dorset History Centre on behalf of Poole."

Contributions to the project totalling £8,000 were also received from Poole Museums and Arts Service, Poole Historical Trust, Perenco PLC and Dorset Archives Trust. Learning and outreach with schools and higher education will encourage the use of the collection and through digitisation it will be possible to make more of the collection available to online users.

The Poole Borough Archive Project

  • 18th century ship D-PPY/C/5/4/7/5 Journeys to new worlds: transportation in 18th century

    Transportation records in the Borough of Poole Archive provide a fascinating insight into the fate of 18th century convicts, including one of the very first Europeans sent to Australia.

  • Kings Arms, Poole Pubs and Players

    Licensing records in the Poole Borough Archive give an insight into the history of entertainment and leisure in Poole.

  • Welcome to Poole A Snapshot of Poole's Past

    With the help of volunteers, thousands of photographs from the Poole Borough Archive are currently being catalogued. Mostly originating from Poole's planning department, the photographs range from the mundane (photographs of drainpipes, shop fronts and cracks in walls!) to fascinating images capturing Poole's recent history.

  • magnifying glass Revisiting the 'High Street Murders' of 1599

    One January morning in 1599, the bodies of two women were discovered in a house in Poole. Newly catalogued records from the Poole Borough Archive shed light on a murder case which dragged on for over 40 years and led to the execution of one man and suspicion cast on a number of possible accomplices.

  • Poole Admiralty flag design Poole's Admiralty Court

    For hundreds of years, Poole was one of the few English ports to have its own admiralty court. Newly catalogued records in the Poole Borough Archive give an insight into the town's maritime heritage.

  • Parade roll call, 3rd Company Poole Voluntary Infantry The Napoleonic Invasion Threat

    As a coastal town, Poole has always been vulnerable to attack by sea - from the Roman invasion, through the burning of the town by the Spanish in 1405, right up to the Second World War.

  • Market Street, Poole Poole's Pillory

    Recently catalogued documents from the Poole Borough collection reveal historic attitudes to public punishment.

  • Poole Watch Committee Law and order in Poole

    Records in the Borough of Poole archive reveal details of the first policemen to be employed in the town, including their uniforms, expected conduct and rewards.

  • Poole rate book for soldiers Poole at War

    Explore Poole's role in the Civil War through the Poole Borough Archive

  • Poole record book Robin Hood comes to Poole

    Recent cataloguing of the Poole Borough Archive has revealed an early mention of Robin Hood!

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