Poole Old Town is a great place to escape the crowds on the quay. The narrow backstreets offer a degree of tranquility with plenty of interesting buildings and quiet sunny spots to sit. You’ll discover many Georgian mansions including the lovely Hotel du Vin, Poole House and West End House along Thames Street (Google map)
Many of the Georgian mansion houses that you will see in The Old Town were the product of the wealth from the Newfoundland trade. Back in Georgian times (1714-1837) Newfoundland was a British territory in Eastern Canada where the seas were teeming with cod. Ships left Poole loaded with salt – an essential ingredient for the salt-fish trade. In Newfoundland the ships were then loaded up with salt-cod and taken to Spain, Portugal and Italy where it was sold or exchanged. The boats then returned to Poole bringing back valuable goods such as salt, olive oil and wine. By 1802 there were more than 350 ships in the Poole fleet and the mariners and businessmen were known as the “merchant princes”.
The Cockle Trail – Self-guided tour of The Old Town in Poole
Rather than wandering around the streets and getting lost Poole Tourism have put together an excellent self-guided walk called The Cockle Trail. The walk starts on the Quay near to the Lord Baden Powell statue / Lord Nelson pub. You have to follow numbered cockle brass plaques set in the pavement which link with numbers in the guide. The walk takes about 1 hour 30 minutes and covers 78 places of interest. You can obtain a copy of the map and guide at the Poole Tourist Information offices located in the Poole Museum (free entry). I think there is a small charge for the printed guide but it’s not much. Alternatively you can view and download a copy of the guide for free at https://www.pooletourism.com/dbimgs/CockleTrail.pdf This is great fun for kids as they love searching for the different plaques even if they might not always be that interested in looking at mansion houses.