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Funding awarded to catalogue Poole’s Historic Archive

Poole’s historic borough archive, containing over 1600 boxes of parchment and paper, is to be catalogued thanks to a £34,867 grant from The National Archives together with contributions from a range of other supporters.

The archive is the written record of the town’s history – from its founding charter in 1246 to the records of the current unitary authority.

Poole Inclosure Map
Highlights include records of the Newfoundland Trade, the town’s courts and the ownership of land across the borough. One document shows the purchase of gunpowder used to fight the Spanish Armada and another has the signature of famous smuggler Isaac Gulliver.

The archive is housed in climate controlled strongrooms at Dorset History Centre in Dorchester. The Centre is home to the county’s Joint Archive Service which is funded by the three councils of Bournemouth, Dorset and Poole.

Funding was received through a competitive national application process with only one other archive collection in the South West receiving a grant. Contributions to the project totalling £8,000 were also received from Poole Museums and Arts Service, Poole Historical Trust, Perenco PLC and Dorset Archives Trust. Funding will pay for the employment of an archivist for 18 months. A searchable online catalogue will be created so allowing anyone to research the town’s history.

Poole’s archive is recognised as being one of the largest and most important of its type and through cataloguing it is hoped that the collection can be opened up to a whole new audience. Learning and outreach with schools and higher education will encourage the use of the collection and through digitisation it will be possible to make more of the collection available to online users. Volunteers will be encouraged to join the project.

Cllr Xena Dion, Cabinet Portfolio Holder for a Prosperous and Sustainable Poole, Borough of Poole, said: "Poole has a fascinating history. This project means that these valuable and fragile documents, which have to be stored in strict environmentally controlled conditions, can be viewed by almost anyone. There are many people interested in researching aspects of local history and this project will make that so much easier to do."  

Sam Johnston, County Archivist, Dorset History Centre, commented: "The strength of this archive is demonstrated by the fact that we were able to acquire grant aid in what has been a highly competitive process. Poole's records are a vital part of its identity and provide evidence of the town's past dating back nearly 800 years. We are proud to hold this superb collection at Dorset History Centre on behalf of Poole."