INDEX


Mr Trenchard's Summer House.

by Ben Buxton

Wareham_Trenchard_summer_houses.jpg

Mr Trenchard's Summer House is marked on an undated - probably late 18th century - and anonymous map in the collection of Poole Harbour Commissioners. The site is on the north shore of Wareham Channel, a short distance east of the former hamlet of West Holton, which was on the opposite (south) side of the railway line from the cordite factory at Holton Heath. The accuracy of the map and the lack of change in the coastline makes the location of the site easy. There is no sign on the surface of a building; it was probably wooden. It had a pleasant view to the Arne peninsula. The site is on land owned by Natural England, and is not open access. The Trenchards were the landowners.

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The Thompson Clay Canal-

A Clay-working Enterprise near Lytchett Bay, Poole in the 1830s

By Brian Gambier, Alan Hawkins and Keith Jarvis

Shortly before 1831, a canal was built to transport clay from clay pits in Upton to Lytchett Bay in Poole Harbour. Interest in the canal, which is the first and only canal in Dorset, began when local historian Bryan Gambier discovered two newspaper reports of 1831 and 1834, giving information on the canals purpose and its opening ceremony. Alan Hawkins then discovered the canal on the Sheringham map of 1849. It is also on the 1880 Ordnance Survey 25 inch map, which shows the clay pits clearly and shows a short section of canal suggesting it was probably out of use by this date. Subsequently, references to the canal and clay workings were found in 1831 (Palmer 2014, 37-38).

Fieldwork by AH and KJ, who are members of the Poole Harbour Heritage Project, has established the canal extended from SY 3978 9219 near Lytchett Bay to about 300m northwards to SY 3980 9247 where the remainder of its course is destroyed by a housing estate. It is believed the end of the canal is in the vicinity of SY 9829 9245. The remains of the canal at the Lytchett Bay end show clearly as a long, straight, marshy, rush-filled channel about ten metres wide. This confirms part of the newspaper report of 1831, which states the mouth of the canal was ten yards wide and 700 yards long.

It is unclear whether the whole canal was 10 yards wide. No locks are mentioned, and it is likely the canal was tidal. The first 300m at the Lytchett Bay end are at salt marsh level, and this section would only need excavation to about 2m to provide an adequate depth of water. After the first 300m the land rises by about 2m which would require a total digging depth of about 4m to maintain the water depth. This section is now under the housing estate and is not available to survey. There is the possibility that the canal was narrower here where it would have been dug deeper. It is probable that the canal would have been lined with clay in any areas where the geology was not clay.

Newspaper sources indicate the canal was completed in 1831 by William Thompson, and that it was built to transport clay from a clay pit to Poole Harbour. Some of the fine clays of the Poole area were much sought after by the Wedgewood and other potteries and vast profits could be made. However, it seems that the clay ran out and it is unclear when the operation closed. The building of the railway bridge at Rockley Point in Poole harbour in 1847 may also have compromised the project due to restriction of the access by boat.

Newspaper reports of the opening in 1831 indicate the substantial nature of the canal and the large party of 200-300 that gathered for the opening. The extracts below in the Dorset and Somerset Herald for August 3rd, 1831 give a flavour of the enterprise.

A vein of very excellent pipe clay having been lately discovered on the estate of Wm Thompson Esq that gentleman has prepared pits for working and cutting a canal from the spot to Lytchett Bay which was opened yesterday with more than ordinary ceremony and festivities. A great number of Mr Thompson's friends having been invited, and after partaking of refreshments in the garden, a band playing at intervals, they embarked in eight boats for the canal under a salute fired from the Duke of Gloucester yacht.To prove the depth of water in Lytchett Bay, the Anna, one of the largest class of coasting vessels, lay at anchor at the mouth of the canal, which had been excavated 10 yards wide and 700 yards long. The parties landed at the head of the canal, and then proceeded to see some clay shipped; the first ball of which was put into the boat by Mr T's eldest son. As the boat glided down the canal to ship the clay on board the Anna the concourse again repeated their cheering. There can be no doubt that this speculation will prove a profitable one, as the clay has been fired and proved to be of most excellent quality, both of the brown and white species. It is decidedly the finest ever discovered in this part of the country.

Three years later in 1834, on December 10th, the same newspaper reported another celebration which included the comment The lighter was. brought up to the wharf and in twenty minutes loaded with thirty tons of clay ; she was immediately towed down the canal by the people

The remains of the canal and the newspaper reports provide an interesting glimpse into a short-lived industrial episode in the history of the Upton and Upper Hamworthy area adjacent to Lytchett Bay. The newspaper article also mentions the buildings and social circumstances of the venture at a time of poverty and social unrest in Dorset. The canal is later than most British canals, as most were built in the 18th century to move the heavy bulk materials needed for the industrial revolution. Many canals declined in the railway age from the 1830s onwards as goods were transferred to rail. This canal is also not related to another canal project in1792/3, when a canal was proposed to link Bristol to Poole via Wareham but was abandoned after a small amount of work in Somerset.

Acknowledgements

The authors would like to thank David Cousins, who is conducting research into the clay industry in Poole harbour for his help.

References

Newspaper Somerset and Dorset Herald 1831 August 3rd, Microfiche Poole History Centre

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Druce Roman Villa and its maritime and marine links. by Lilian Ladle - Visiting Fellow, Bournemouth University

A newly-found Roman villa at Druce Farm, near Puddletown occupies a south facing slope and overlooks the River Piddle. It lies about four miles east of Dorchester is currently under investigation. Maritime links are implicit in not only the building itself but also in objects used in the household by its occupants.

Current excavations have uncovered three ranges of buildings which were arranged around a courtyard and were in use from about AD 100 to around AD 600. All were well-constructed with thick, flint mortared walls, a number of which were strengthened at the corners with substantial blocks of limestone. Initial identification of the stone favours a Purbeck source. The roofs of all the ranges were clad with large, heavy limestone roof tiles and again the source is likely to be Purbeck. It is possible that the stone was quarried near the coast in the Swanage area and moved by sea into Poole Harbour and thereafter up either the Rivers Frome or Piddle and finally carted to the site itself. It is likely that the stone was shaped into rough hexagonal shapes immediately after it was quarried. In addition large quantities of blue slate tiles were also used to cover the roofs, probably in decorative bands. The slate came from much further afield and was quarried near Delabole in Cornwall. It is possible that this material could have been landed at Radipole, near Weymouth and brought to the site via the known Roman road system. Slate is very rare as a roofing material on Roman buildings and was no doubt a status symbol at Druce signifying that the owner was wealthy enough to be able to ship in and use an unusual and exotic building material.

Pottery is a ubiquitous find on Roman sites and generally a proportion was manufactured abroad. Everyday pottery found at Druce was made relatively locally, much of it coming from the kilns around the harbour edge, however, high-class, fine tablewares from northern France and southern Germany were regular imports and were recovered from all ranges of the villa. Rare slivers of extremely thin, beautifully decorated German glass from the Cologne region are evidence that very fragile drinking vessels were in use their movement from supplier to this site suggests that extreme care was taken in packing and transport. Their port of entry of course remains a mystery.

The Romans were extremely fond of oysters and Sallust writing about 50BC stated:

Poor Britons  there is some good in them after all they produce an oyster.

It would appear that shellfish and fish were regularly on the menu. Very large numbers of oyster shells have been recorded, with lesser numbers of whelks, mussels and cockles. A surprising number were larger than most modern specimens. Fish bones are also present. It is possible that most of these foodstuffs originated in the Poole Harbour area. Oysters attach to hard substrate (rocks or stones) and are usuallyconstantly under water. Mussels also prefer hard surfaces as a habitat and can be found colonising such things as rocks and submerged wooden pilings. Cockles inhabit the intertidal zone living in muddy sand. Oysters and mussels are permanently attached to the substrate and cockles can burrow in the sand. Whelks however are mobile, active predators and are found offshore, in deeper water on the soft, sandy seabed. At the moment, fish bones have not been yet been identified to species; but it is significant in that such foodstuff was expensive and relatively uncommon on inland sites. Freshness, then as now was essential and it would have been necessary to move these items as fast as possible between gathering or catching and serving to the table.

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The Dorset Alum & Copperas Project. (funded by English Heritage)

Alum and copperas were important chemicals used in the dyeing of cloth, in tanning, and in the manufacture of ink. The alum and copperas industry in Britain began in the Poole Harbour and Kimmeridge area in the 16th century and represents the birth of the chemical industry in this country.

The early alum and copperas industries in England were established in Poole around the middle of the 16th century. Documentary evidence gives some insight into the foundation of this industry. It is known that there was an active copperas industry comprising several works in and around Poole during the period 1564 1610 and another copperas works operated on Brownsea Island from about 1655 to 1704. An alum works was established at Kimmeridge near Poole early in the 17th century but only operated a few years. The nature and location of the raw materials, precise siting of the works, and the processes used, are in some cases, still not fully understood.

Sir William Clavell started to produce alum at Kimmeridge in 1605, using the Kimmeridge shale as raw material and also as fuel. Unfortunately, his works were closed down by King James I, as alum was claimed as a royal monopoly. Not long after, in about 1613, he obtained permission to start making alum again and built two alum plants and also a stone pier. In 1617, the works were again closed down by the Crown and the alum works dismantled. Sir William Clavell made no further attempts to start an alum industry and turned to glass-making instead.

The excavation in 2009 was carried out to investigate the features recorded by Dr David Brachi when the toilets were built in 1976. We believe these may be the remains of one of the two alum houses dismantled in 1617.

Volume 135; 2014 Proceedings of the Dorset Natural History and Archaeological Society report on the finding of the Alum and Copperas Project .

GO  TO REPORTS

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Prehistoric Glass at Worth Matravers. by Lilian Ladle.

During excavations at Worth Matravers in 2010, an insignificant piece of colourless glass together with some animal bone and pottery fragments were found in a small pit. The pit itself was completely covered and sealed by a large quernstone. The pottery which dated to about 600 BC hinted at the antiquity of the glass, but such material is almost absent from Britain at this date. WorthGlassLL445.jpg

The glass fragment which is part of a finger ring, was sent toProfessor Julian Henderson at Nottingham University for investigation and chemical analyses. Initial results indicate that the glass is of a soda lime type and possibly made from raw materials occurring on the Levantine (modern Lebanon) coast. Antimony had been added as a clarifier and the Worth glass is a very early example of this technique. Further tests will give a diagnostic signature on the raw materials of the glass, pinpointing the exact place of manufacture. This rare ring fragment is contemporary with the associated pottery and is the earliest piece of glass to have been found in Dorset. The links with the Middle East at this date are intriguing, hinting at long distance, maybe even Phoenician trade in luxury goods.

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BRICK MAKING - Poole & Purbeck.by Alan Hawkins

The use of moulded brick as a building material dates back to the earliest times. Sun baked brick was used by early civilisations and in the Middle East buildings constructed in the 3rd century BC survive. In England the earliest brick building recorded dates from c1248 in East Anglia and the earliest buildings in Dorset from around the 16th century.

Although there is little in the documentary evidence for brickmaking in Poole Harbour basin before 1770 local buildings dating from the 16th century would tend to support the archaeological evidence that brickmaking in the area was much earlier. The Blockhouse on Brownsea Island (Branksea Castle) was build during the reign of Henry VIII and kilns on the South Shore are thought to date from the 16th century. Repairs and extensions were made in the 1580's and brickwork from this time survives in the early part of the castle.

Kilns associated with brickmaking can be seen eroding out of the harbour shoreline and these certainly date from 17th century and possibly earlier.

This page will be be update as the results from on going investiagtions and research become available.

Search database also includes Clay and pottery

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The Book of POOLE HARBOUR  (still available for purchase)

POOLE HARBOUR has long been in need of a comprehensive illustrated account of its remarkable history. That this first book on the Harbour ever to be published is the work of 30 authors, all of them authorities on aspects of its story, and that it contains over 400 illustrations, many of them in colour, is a tribute to the richness and diversity of the Harbour itself. It may only be 8650 acres in area, but it is one of the most fascinating and beautiful places in Britain, as well as being of international importance for its landscapes and wildlife.

Here then is Poole Harbour's story, from its formation following the last Ice Age to the twenty-first century. By the Iron Age the Harbour was a flourishing port. Later, Roman galleys and Viking longships dropped anchor in its waters. Wareham's decline marked Poole's rise into a town made wealthy by shipping and fishing specially the trade in cod between Newfoundland and the Mediterranean. Land was reclaimed, jetties and quays built. The Harbour was charted, its channels dredged and buoyed. There seemed no limit to the Harbour's bounty: from salt production to chemicals, from the exporting of clay to the founding of potteries, from brewing to shipbuilding.

The Harbour's islands and secluded backwaters sheltered pirates and smugglers. The threat of invasion saw its defences strengthened. Once flying boats rose into the air where the Royal Marines and the RNLI now exercise and train, where yachts and sailing dinghies race for pleasure. Indeed, it is the many delights the Harbour offers that today are its principal attractions. Yet despite the bustle of a working port and the increasingly built-up Eastern Shore, Poole Harbour retains a unique and special character that this book brings vividly to life.

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DEVELOPMENT AND ENVIRONMENT OF POOLE HARBOUR - SEA LEVEL CHANGE

 In general terms worldwide , as one would expect the melting of ice since the ice age 8000bc leads to a general

exponential rise of ocean sea levels and then tailing off now in last 1000 years.

We looked at this curve and it suggested a rise of about 50cm in the last 500 years. This is supported by

1. level of town cellars floor (now below sea level)

2. mollusc lines etc on a 16th century stone quay on the foundry site.

Keith Jarvis

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Lilian Ladle,