Poole Herald 7th November 1968
(Was also in the Bournemouth Times)
Once upon a time – this is no fairy story – our Town Quay was crowded with sailing ships, a real forest of masts. Brigs, schooners and Thames barges often tied up alongside each other, two or three deep.
That was the scene at the turn of the century. Round about 1912 there were still plenty of craft which depended on the winds to fill their sails, although there was a gradual increase in vessels driven by steam.
To depict how congested was our quayside I must recall a single trip I made to Poole in 1910 from Bournemouth to Poole fare 6d., on the paddler Empress.
It was such a rough evening that calls at Boscombe and Swanage piers had to to be abandoned. When we at last reached Poole we could find nowhere to tie up, all the berths being occupied. Due to the force of the gale we sheered from one side of the waterway to the other, but eventually got alongside Bournemouth Queen, damaging her port paddlebox and our starboard one. By the time we did get ashore it was nigh 11 pm. Some of our passengers had to get back to Bournemouth and the last train and tram had gone, so they had a long walk into the bargain for their 6d. outlay.
About that time two of Cosen’s larger paddle steamers berthed at Swanage old pier at night, where they were coaled and provisioned. Actually there was not quay space at Poole at the time for these two boats, as the Majestic was 215ft. long and the Monarch 210ft. It is worth recalling here that all of our paddlers served in both world wars, three of them never to return. These were Stirling Castle and majestic, lost in the first of the two wars, then later the Grace Fields was destroyed by the Germans in 1940 during the Dunkirk evacuation.
Loads of timber
For a great many years our port has seen big loads of timber arrive from Denmark, Sweden and Norway. These cargoes were for three firms on Poole side and one firm on Hamworthy side. The largest of these ships was possibly the Gustavburg, which paid us two visits, and she also took over 2,000 tons of clay on one occasion.
Looking more closely at the years 1921 onwards, we have noted the gradual disappearance of ships under sail, and the increasing numbers of steam merchant shipping. To name a few of the colliers, there were those named after roses, such as Rambler Rose, Mofre Rose, and Jellicoe Rose, of 1,200 tons.
Another company named their ships after English counties. Then we also had those regular visitiors which brought Welsh coal, the Emperor, the Dutchess and others with similar titles.
For many years we would see the frequent arrivals of William Cash and Pitwines with coal for our gas company. But already the scene was slowly beginning to change – ships were arriving driven by oil. By about 1927 we began to see Dutch coasters bringing mixed cargoes. Holland built hundreds of these fast little ships, 250 to 600 tons.
Should you walk along the quay you might possibly see a ship with a name ending in “ity.” This would almost certainly be a vessel belonging to a Greenhithe firm, F. T. Everard and Sons, who own a large fleet of coastal ships, some of which have been calling at Poole for many years.
I can recall their names, more than 40 of them, such as Activity, Sincerity and Aridity.
Six new ships were employed in bringing coal from the northeast coast to our local electric power station. They all had Poole names, for example Poole Channel, and each of 1,500 tons, but later (1962) a change to oil burning was made and these ships wre sold to the Portland Cement Co. and renamed, all ending in “crete,” such as Snowcrete, Aquacrete.
So this change saw a great increase in the import of oil to supply the needs of the power station, although ever since about 1924 cargoes of oil had been coming into Poole for local requirements, brought by such well known tankers as Ben Oliver, Rudderman, Anchorman, and many others.
Three local ships in the 400 ton range are the Cranbourne, Sherbourne and Wimborne, owned by John Carter (Poole).
Despite dredging on the bar, also the erection of the training bank (1924) to control the ebb tide, the size of ships coming to Poole has decreased over the years. Yet the actual depth on the bar itself has been increased by two feet.
There is no doubt that much seaborne trade has been lost to Poole. There is no excuse for this since we had this extra depth of water, nor should the export of China clay ever have gone to Cornwall. I see a ship has just left par with 1,000 tons of clay, yet she could have easily loaded 2,000 tons here.
Yes, I know it was said bigger consignments could be loaded in the southwest. This is true, but surely Poole could still have retained its share in the valuable export.