Pirates, Castaways & Codfish

150 YEARS OF POOLE MARITIME HISTORY

Why We began this project

A few years ago, the Rotary Club of Poole Bay undertook a project to map the rights of way in Old Town. People were curious as to how some of the Alleys on the Quay got their names, some research was done and 3 names stood out in the C17th that could perhaps have had Alleys named after them:

Admiral Sir Thomas Button – A Welshman who, for many years, protected the fishing fleets out of Poole and other ports in south west England from pirates. Sailing in the narrow sea off of the south west coast of England, in the Bristol Channel and off southern Ireland, his job was to protect vessels from the danger of Barbary Pirates from the north African coast. In fact we think it unlikely that he leant his name to Poole’s alley.’

Captain John Bennett RN – who was Poole born and bred, a Captain in the Royal Navy. He is thought to have lived in a tenement on Bennett’s Lane.

Governor Woodes Rogers – a Poole boy who at the age of 28 commanded two ships on a round the world voyage in 1708. He went as a privateer and later in life, became Governor of the Bahamas.

Their lives are well researched and documented but we think there is still more to learn. Since this period covering their lifetimes (1580-1730) was such an important era in the development of Poole, we think these stories of seamanship and how Poole and its port grew and changed should be revisited and brought to a wider audience.

Through the lens of their incredible maritime lives and experiences we explored Poole’s maritime history across the period.


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To this end, a year-long project was undertaken , facilitated by members of Poole Bay Rotary Club together with local volunteers and involving other organisations with wide-ranging interests.

Our project was awarded funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund and we must thank, particularly, all who play the National Lottery and make these awards possible.


We set out to explore and celebrate Poole’s Maritime Heritage within the period 1580 to 1730.

We put together a successful project with the help of volunteers and people interested in local history. We will continue to share what we find out with as many people as we can.


A timeLine of the rich history we uncovered

How We shared the findings of our research

I. Mayhem at the Inn

The main features of this play are historically correct. It was performed live for the first time at Scaplen’s Court in June 2019, Members of the public were part of the play, sitting in the audience with actors around them, they dipped in and out as if they were there in 1623.

You can imagine being there, on the quayside, it's market day. There is chatter going on, people are coming and going, there is singing!

Experience the history.

II. Exhibition Material for Poole Museum

III. Talks to Local Clubs and Societies, Storytelling, CD/Audio visual display material

Samantha Holmes

Working Class Women in Poole

June Garland

Jane's Story, Family Life Around 1628

Dr. Jenny Moon

Fishing in Newfoundland

Eddie NewComb

Poole Trade & Merchant Venturers

What WE Plan To Do Next

Our Project was a big success and we feel we pushed way beyond our capabilities. We're excited to continue and carry the momentum forward.

We plan to do more projects, more story telling, more dramas and engage more with the community.

As a Rotary club, we get involved in lots of projects. This is a community project we're passionate about and engages members of the local community.

We're planning to do two more plays, one set in 1688 at the time of the Glorious Revolution and the other set in Nassau, Bahamas at the end of our period in 1730, which coincided with the end of the ‘golden age of piracy’ in eh Caribbean.

We want to put on these pieces of drama ourselves and also see the potential of them being an educational tool that we can share with local Schools, local community and museums to share Poole's History


Want To Get Involved?

If you'd like to volunteer and get involved in the upcoming projects, or if you are an organisation who wants to partner up in the projects then we'd love hear from you.

Please email Rotarian Project Manager Don Nutt at don_nutt@hotmail.com for all inquiries.