Sunday, 11 May 2014

Poole is Cool (and so is Pwllheli)

Poole is a pretty amazing place: it has the second largest natural harbour in the world - only Sydney can beat it. 

When the Romans invaded Britain in the 1st century they went straight for the jewel in the crown - Poole and, more specifically, the Iron Age settlement at Hamworthy.

Bournemouth, the young urban upstart down the road, was only founded in the 19th century - before that it was a wasteland called 'Pool Heath',  fit only for fishermen, tramps and smugglers.
POOL HEATH (Bournemouth) 1759
Poole Harbour also has oil. It has the largest onshore oilfield in Western Europe at Wytch Farm:
The site produces around 50,000 barrels of oil per day with reserves of nearly 500 million barrels.

Poole's name gives another indication of its importance and antiquity. 
Poole comes from an old British (Brythonic) root which we find in Old Cornish: pol; Welsh : pwll ; and Breton : poull. These mean (variously) pool’, ‘pit’ , ‘cove’, ‘creek’, 'hollow' and often more than one of these at the same time; but all meaning (broadly) 'an enclosed or deep area (of water)'.
There are quite a few places in Britain and Brittany that retain this place name element and illustrate its different meanings : 
Pwllheli: a 'salt water creek/basin' in North Wales.

Le Pouliguen in France (near Nantes and St. Nazaire). Definitely a narrow stretch of water here, very creeky.
Paul in Cornwall- there was a lake here (Gwavas Lake) which was lost to the sea. There's a bit of a pond to make up for it - so two 'pools' for the price of one. 
Pouldouran in Brittany. This is an inland stretch of water and the Breton douran indicates the presence of otters. Otter Creek?

Paimpol in Brittany (Pempoull in Breton, 'at the end of the cove/creek') 

Llanfairpwllgwyngyll near Bangor,  'St Mary's church in the hollow of white hazel'

At the bottom of the valley you see Glaspwll, near Machynlleth ('green hollow').

Returning to Poole, we are left with one last bit of enclosed water: this time at Poole Park.
And this is one more thing to make Poole cooler than cool. 
To see what I mean watch this video:

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