|Official name||Poole Harbour|
|Designated||22 July 1999|
Poole Harbour is a large natural harbour in Dorset, southern England, with the town of Poole on its shores. The harbour is a drowned valley (ria) formed at the end of the last ice age and is the estuary of several rivers, the largest being the Frome. The harbour has a long history of human settlement stretching to pre-Roman times. The harbour is extremely shallow (average depth 48 cm [19 in]), with one main dredged channel through the harbour, from the mouth to Holes Bay.
Poole Harbour has an area of approximately 36 km2 (14 sq mi). It is one of several which lay claim to the title of "second largest natural harbour in the world" (after Port Jackson, Sydney). Other contenders include Halifax Harbour in Canada, Trincomalee Harbour in Sri Lanka and Cork Harbour in Ireland.
In 1964 during harbour dredging, the waterlogged remains of a 2000-year-old Iron Age logboat were found off Brownsea Island. Dated at about 295 BC, the 10 metres (33 ft) Poole Logboat is one of the largest vessels of its type from British waters. Its low freeboard would have limited its use to within Poole Harbour.
Poole was used by the Romans as an invasion port for the conquest of southern England, who established the settlement at Hamworthy, now the western half of Poole. A Roman Road ran north from Hamworthy to Badbury Rings, a Roman transport hub. At the time of the Norman Conquest, Poole was a small fishing village.
The port grew, and in 1433 Poole was made Dorset's Port of the Staple for the export of wool. Medieval Poole had trading links from the Baltics to Italy. In the 17th century, the town began trading with North America, in particular Newfoundland, and the town became very wealthy. In the 18th century, Poole was the principal British port trading with North America. At the start of the 19th century, 90% of Poole's population's employment was directly dependent on the harbour, but this dropped to 20% during the century as the railways reached the town, and deep-hulled boats moved up the coast to Southampton, which had a deeper harbour and is closer to London. With regular dredging of a channel through the harbour, it has regained some importance.
The longest ship to enter the harbour is DFDS/LD Lines 186.5 metre Norman Voyager on 15 October 2013, with the second longest being the 167-metre Armorique of Brittany Ferries, which arrived in the port for the first time on 2 February 2010. The previous holder of that title was the 151-metre Bretagne , which arrived in the port for the first time on 27 February 2007.
The entrance to Poole Harbour is from the east, via Poole Bay and the English Channel. Entering the harbour, heading west, on either side are the shores of Studland beach (south west) and Sandbanks (in particular, the Haven Hotel and the peninsula, north east). Directly ahead are several islands, the largest of which is Brownsea Island.
Four rivers drain into Poole harbour, the largest being the River Frome, which flows from the west through Dorchester and Wareham. The others are the River Piddle, the Corfe River and the Sherford River.
Following the harbour anti-clockwise, heading north-east passes the built up residential settlements of Poole including Lilliput and Parkstone (east). About 4 miles (6.4 km) north-west of the entrance of the harbour is the entrance to Poole Quay and the Holes Bay (see below). Directly west of the main part of Poole is Hamworthy. Continuing anti-clockwise, heading west around the Harbour are the settlements of Upton and Wareham, as well as the outlet of the River Piddle. This area of water within the Harbour is known as Wareham Channel and includes other places such as Rockley Sands.
Continuing anti-clockwise, now heading south are the majority of the islands within the Harbour as well as several small channels and inlets. To the west is Arne Bay and the Wych channel. The majority of land in this area is heathland, and there are few settlements, as opposed to the eastern part of the Harbour. Directly south is Long Island, Round Island and Ower Bay. Green Island, Furzey Island and Brownsea Island (in that order) are to the east, with Newton Bay and Brands Bay (this area has several oil wells) to the south. This area of water is known as the South Deep. Continuing anti-clockwise comes back to the entrance to the Harbour and to Poole Bay, with Studland beach immediately south-east.
Lytchett Bay lies to the north of the Harbour and flows into it through a narrow channel near the edge of the suburb of Hamworthy. This is fed by the Sherford River.
Holes Bay is a tidal inland lake which lies to the north of Poole Harbour. It is a designated harbour quiet area. The entrance to the bay is a small inlet from the main harbour. Spanning the inlet are two bridges: Poole Bridge and the new Twin Sails Bridge; the latter officially opened in 2012 and cost around £37,000,000. Access to Holes Bay for vessels with an air draft greater than 2.1 metres (6.9 ft) is only possible when the bridges are lifted, which occurs several fixed times daily and sometimes on request. The new bridge is intended to help reduce traffic jams by ensuring at least one bridge is open to vehicular traffic at any one time.
The bay contains Pergins Island, and the South Western railway line runs west to east on a causeway across the bay. To the north of the bay is Upton Country Park
Holes Bay is the location of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) training school, attached to their Poole headquarters. Uses of the bay include fishing, kayaking and small leisure craft. A large marina known as Cobbs Quay is on the west side of the bay. On its east side the bay runs parallel to the A350.
Poole Harbour is the location of a number of islands, of various sizes. These islands include:
The harbour lies on a band of weak gravel and clay which is easily eroded by the rivers and sea. This band is bordered by two bands of chalk, the Purbeck Hills and Isle of Wight to the south, and the Dorset Downs and South Downs to the north. The clay extends west up the Frome valley to Dorchester, and would originally have extended east beyond Portsmouth in Hampshire. Before the last ice age the River Frome continued to flow east through what is now the Solent, joining the Stour, Beaulieu, Test, Itchen and Hamble, before flowing into the English Channel to the east of the present day Isle of Wight. A relatively resistant chalk ridge ran continuously from the Purbeck Hills to the Isle of Wight, which the rivers could not break through. When the glaciers of the north of the island of Great Britain melted, the south of England sank slightly, flooding the Solent valley and Southampton Water to form their characteristic rias (flooded estuaries). About 7,000 years ago, increased erosion from the sea and the increased flow caused by the change in climate broke through the chalk hills, cutting the Isle of Wight off from the Isle of Purbeck and flooding what is now the Solent and Christchurch Bay, leaving Poole Harbour as the estuary of the Frome.
Once a major port, freight transport has declined, but the port is still served by regular cross-Channel passenger ferries, with Brittany Ferries offering a passenger and freight service to Cherbourg. Condor Ferries operate to the Channel Islands and St Malo as well as joint high-speed service with Brittany Ferries to Cherbourg.
Coastal trading vessels are also frequent visitors, unloading various cargos on the quaysides at Hamworthy, and fleet of fishing vessels operates from the south end of Poole Quay. There is considerable leisure usage of the harbour, by a combination of yachts and other private craft, cruise boats that ply the harbour, and ferries that provide a passenger link to Brownsea Island. The harbour is managed by the Poole Harbour Commissioners (PHC), who represent all aspects of commercial and leisure activity in the harbour.Their duties include maintaining the shipping channels for the ferries and cargo vessels, enforcing harbour speed limits, improving port facilities and assisting with nature conservation.
In November 2005 the main shipping channels into the harbour and the Port of Poole were dredged to accommodate modern ferries at all states of the tide. 6 metres (20 ft) to 7.5 metres (25 ft). Approximately 1.8 million cubic metres of sand and silt were dredged from the approach channels to the Harbour and port, and 1.1 million m3 was made available to the local beaches of Poole, Bournemouth and Purbeck for beach replenishment. Today the harbour is maintained by Jenkins Marine and their fleet of specialised dredging vessels.The project was carried out by Van Oord, and on completion the depth had been increased from
Poole Harbour Commissioners define the main shipping channels, :in which leisure craft should take care, as
As well as the commercial activity discussed above, Poole is a major centre for sailing and motor boating.
There is an enormous number of moorings in the harbour, and many places to anchor.
Much of the north side of the harbour is a built-up area, including the town of Poole, and the conurbation which continues 10 miles (16 km) eastwards along the coast. The west and south sides of the harbour and part of the Purbeck Heritage Coast are important wildlife havens, as are the five large islands in the harbour, which are home to the endangered red squirrel. The harbour is an area of international importance for wildlife conservation and is on the Ramsar list. It borders three National Nature Reserves, including the internationally important Studland and Godlingston Heath NNR, and a number of local and non-statutory nature reserves run by organisations such as the National Trust and RSPB, notably Arne. The mouth of the harbour is partially blocked by Sandbanks, a spit on the north, which is built up and part of Poole, and by Studland to the south, which is another important wildlife area.
The harbour is very shallow in places and has extensive mud flat and salt marsh habitats, as well as muddy and sandy shores and seagrass meadows. Being an extremely popular recreation and tourism area means that the local authorities and organisations have to carefully manage the tourism to prevent damage to the habitats.
The south shore of the harbour, including Wytch Heath and Godlingstone Heath, is open heathland of little agricultural use. During the 20th century there was some afforestation with conifer plantations. Around Wareham Forest in the west this has been for commercial forestry, but on the southern shore the plantations conceal the Wytch Farm oil wells.
Three bird species occur in internationally important numbers: common shelduck, pied avocet and black-tailed godwit. Other notable visitors include spoonbill, Sandwich tern and Eurasian whimbrel. Once rare, little egrets are now seen regularly and in increasing numbers.
Due to the ever-increasing popularity of pleasure boating in the United Kingdom, the harbour has seen a rapid increase in the private ownership of pleasure vessels over the past decade, most of which are housed in private marinas around the harbour. Due to this increase, Poole has seen a rise in the number of maritime-oriented businesses.
With the popularity of watersports such as water skiing, wakeboarding, windsurfing and kitesurfing, Poole Harbour Commissioners have designated areas within the harbour almost exclusively for sport participation – virtually unrestricted from most regular harbour rules. Poole is also fortunate in that wind conditions are variable; wind conditions can be calm for sports such as wakeboarding, and a short while later strong for sports such as windsurfing. Most of these sports benefit from the harbour's generally flat water conditions. As a result, local watersport businesses operate around the harbour.
Poole Tourism has developed and signed a number of trails and circular walks, collectively called the Poole Harbour Trails,as well as the Poole Heritage Cycle Route for cyclists.
The River Frome is a river in Dorset in the south of England. At 30 miles (48 km) long it is the major chalkstream in southwest England. It is navigable upstream from Poole Harbour as far as the town of Wareham.
Poole is a large coastal town and seaport in Dorset, on the south coast of England. The town is 21 miles (34 km) east of Dorchester and adjoins Bournemouth to the east. Since 1 April 2019, the local authority is Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council which is a unitary authority. Poole had an estimated population of 151,500 making it the second-largest town in the ceremonial county of Dorset. Together with Bournemouth and Christchurch, the conurbation has a total population of nearly 400,000.
Brownsea Island, also archaically known as Branksea, is the largest of the islands in Poole Harbour in the county of Dorset, England. The island is owned by the National Trust with the northern half managed by the Dorset Wildlife Trust. Much of the island is open to the public and includes areas of woodland and heath with a wide variety of wildlife, together with cliff top views across Poole Harbour and the Isle of Purbeck.
Studland is a village and civil parish on the Isle of Purbeck in the English county of Dorset. It is famous for its beaches and nature reserve. It lies within the Purbeck administrative district, and is located about 2 miles (3.2 km) north of the town of Swanage, over a steep chalk ridge, and 3 miles (4.8 km) south of the South East Dorset conurbation at Sandbanks, but separated from it by Poole Harbour. The parish includes Brownsea Island within the harbour. In the 2011 census the parish had 182 households and a population of 425, though many of the houses in the village are holiday homes, second homes, or guest houses, and the village's population varies depending upon the season.
The Isle of Purbeck is a peninsula in Dorset, England. It is bordered by water on three sides: the English Channel to the south and east, where steep cliffs fall to the sea; and by the marshy lands of the River Frome and Poole Harbour to the north. Its western boundary is less well defined, with some medieval sources placing it at Flower's Barrow above Worbarrow Bay. According to writer and broadcaster Ralph Wightman, Purbeck "is only an island if you accept the barren heaths between Arish Mell and Wareham as cutting off this corner of Dorset as effectively as the sea." The most southerly point is St Alban's Head. Its coastline is suffering from erosion.
Purbeck was a local government district in Dorset, England. The district was named after the Isle of Purbeck, a peninsula that forms a large proportion of the district's area. However it extended significantly further north and west than the traditional boundary of the Isle of Purbeck along the River Frome. The district council was based in the town of Wareham, which is itself north of the River Frome.
Sandbanks is a small peninsula or spit crossing the mouth of Poole Harbour on the English Channel coast at Poole in Dorset, England. It is known for its high property prices and for its award-winning beach. In 2005 Sandbanks was reported to have the fourth highest land value by area in the world. The Sandbanks and Canford Cliffs Coastline area has been dubbed as "Britain's Palm Beach" by national media.
Wytch Farm is an oil field and processing facility in the Purbeck district of Dorset, England. It is the largest onshore oil field in western Europe. The facility, taken over by Perenco in 2011, was previously operated by BP. It is located in a coniferous forest on Wytch Heath on the southern shore of Poole Harbour, two miles (3.2 km) north of Corfe Castle. Oil and natural gas (methane) are both exported by pipeline; liquefied petroleum gas is exported by road tanker.
Toronto Harbour or Toronto Bay is a bay on the north shore of Lake Ontario, in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. It is a natural harbour, protected from Lake Ontario waves by the Toronto Islands. Today, the harbour is used primarily for recreational boating, including personal vessels and pleasure boats providing scenic or party cruises. Ferries travel from docks on the mainland to the Islands, and cargo ships deliver aggregates and raw sugar to industries located in the harbour. Historically, the harbour has been used for military vessels, passenger traffic and cargo traffic. Waterfront uses include residential, recreational, cultural, commercial and industrial sites.
Hamworthy is a village, parish and inner suburb of Poole in Dorset, England. It is sited on a peninsula of approximately 3 square kilometres (1.2 sq mi) that is bordered by Upton to the north, Poole Harbour to the south, Lytchett Bay to the west and Holes Bay to the east. Poole Bridge, the southern terminus of the A350 road, connects the suburb with the town centre. Hamworthy is the location of the Port of Poole ferry passenger terminal and cargo handling operations. Hamworthy has two local councillors in Poole Borough Council, one for Hamworthy East, and one for Hamworthy West. In Hamworthy there are six main areas, Rockley, Turlin Moor Estate, Lower Hamworthy, Cobbs Quay/Harbourside, Lake Side and Central Hamworthy.
Poole railway station is on the South Western Main Line serving the town of Poole in Dorset, England. It is situated in the town centre next to Holes Bay. It is one of four stations in the Borough of Poole and is 113 miles 62 chains (183.1 km) down the main line from London Waterloo.
Christchurch Harbour is a natural harbour in the county of Dorset, on the south coast of England named after the nearby town of Christchurch. Two rivers, the Avon and the Stour, flow into the Harbour at its northwest corner. The harbour is generally shallow and due to the tidal harmonics in the English Channel has a double high water on each tide. On the north side of the harbour, east of the Avon are Priory Marsh, and to the east of this Stanpit Marsh, a Local Nature Reserve. To the west side of the harbour are Wick Fields, the southern flank of the harbour being bounded by Hengistbury Head, a prominent coastal headland. The harbour flows into the Christchurch Bay and the English Channel through a narrow channel known locally as The Run which rests between Mudeford Quay and Mudeford Spit. Shallow-draught boats can enter from this channel and cruise up stream for 2 miles (3 km) choosing either the Avon or the Stour, the Stour leading up as far as Iford Bridge passing Christchurch Quay and Tuckton.
Furzey Island is an island in Poole Harbour in the English county of Dorset. The island lies to the south of the larger Brownsea Island. Seen from the water, or adjoining land, the island looks like another wild pineclad island. However, hidden in the trees are twenty-two oil wells split into 2 well-sites for the Wytch Farm Oil Field, which is linked by pipeline to Hamble on Southampton Water. The rarely seen tall oil rig, can sometimes be a big landmark of Southern Poole Harbour and the main landmark between Brownsea and Furzey. The well-sites are manned 24 hours a day.
Lilliput is a district of Poole, Dorset. It borders on Sandbanks, Canford Cliffs, Lower Parkstone, and Whitecliff and has a shoreline within Poole Harbour with views of Brownsea Island and the Purbeck Hills. Brownsea Island stands opposite Lilliput's harbour foreshore and is famous as the birthplace of Baden Powell's International Scouting Movement. Lilliput itself was host to a number of early scouting camps. During the Second World War at one stage it provided Britain's only civilian air route: Poole Harbour was temporary home to the Imperial Airways/BOAC flying boat fleet, which had its passenger HQ at Salterns.
Brownsea Island Ferries Ltd is a company that operates ferries to Brownsea Island in Poole Harbour from Poole and Sandbanks. It also operates cruises around Poole Harbour, Bournemouth, Sandbanks, the Jurassic Coast and the Isle of Wight. The vessels operated by the company are the Maid of Poole, Maid of the Harbour, Maid of the Lakelands and Maid of the Islands.
The Hampshire Basin is a geological basin of Palaeogene age in southern England, underlying parts of Hampshire, the Isle of Wight, Dorset, and Sussex. Like the London Basin to the northeast, it is filled with sands and clays of Paleocene and younger ages and it is surrounded by a broken rim of chalk hills of Cretaceous age.
The history of Poole, a town in Dorset, England, can be traced back to the founding of a settlement around Poole Harbour during the Iron Age. The town now known as Poole was founded on a small peninsula to the north of the harbour. Poole experienced rapid growth as it became an important port following the Norman Conquest of England.
Dorset is a county located in the middle of the south coast of England. It lies between the latitudes 50.512°N and 51.081°N and the longitudes 1.682°W and 2.958°W, and occupies an area of 2,653 km². It spans 90 kilometres (56 mi) from east to west and 63 kilometres (39 mi) from north to south.
The Dorset Heaths form an important area of heathland within the Poole Basin in southern England. Much of the area is protected.