Let's move to Poole in Dorset

It's got a fabulous natural harbour, stylish quayside developments, great schools<br/><br/>and it's a hub of arts and culture. Edward Griffiths discovers that Poole is both family friendly and sophisticated

Let’s move to Poole

It’s got a fabulous natural harbour, stylish quayside developments, great schools and it’s a hub of arts and culture. Edward Griffiths discovers that Poole is both family friendly and sophisticated

There’s a lot to consider, if you’re thinking of moving to Poole. It isn’t just about having the second biggest natural harbour in the world, or boasting some of the most expensive properties in Britain. It’s about using the lovely harbour for sport and relaxation; for sharing exactly the same views as the expensive Sandbanks’ properties – for free; it’s about enjoying a stroll through Poole’s beautiful public parks and gardens or along its sandy beaches; it’s about evenings out at the biggest arts centre outside London; it’s about shopping in the modern all-weather mall or along streets lined with independent shops, some selling local produce and the freshest seafood imaginable; it’s about having a huge selection of schools, an outstanding hospital, and out-of-town furniture and DIY outlets to furnish your new home. Poole also has a fascinating and rich heritage, the RNLI HQ and national training centre is based here, and both Poole Pottery and Ryvita are made here. What’s more, the Isle of Purbeck is a short ferry crossing away, and Weymouth and London are easily accessible by rail. 

What can I get for my money? Stephen Kay and Alistair Brown of Brown & Kay Estate Agents say that Poole and the surrounding area offers a wide range of property to suit every taste and budget, ranging from one-bedroom retirement flats for under �70,000 close to the town centre to luxury apartments near beautiful Poole Park from �170,000. “For this price you could also move to a two-bedroom apartment in a Grade II Listed quayside building right in the heart of historic Poole. In Parkstone, Creekmoor and Canford Heath prices range from �165,000 for two-bedroom houses to �350,000 for four-bedroom homes. In Lower Parkstone, just a short drive from exclusive Sandbanks with its blue flag beaches, superb four-bedroom detached homes start at �475,000.” For more information, contact 01202 676292 and brownandkay.co.uk.

EducationThe choice of schools and colleges in the Borough of Poole is first class, with 13 First Schools, 7 Middle Schools, 8 Combined Schools and 8 Secondary Schools. Independent schools include Bournemouth Collegiate School in Parkstone, which has the area’s only independent sector co-educational Sixth Form(01202 742626 or bournemouthcollegiateschool.co.uk) and Talbot Heath School in Rothsay Road, a day and boarding school which caters for girls from 3-18 years (01202 761881 or visit talbotheath.org). Poole also has two renowned grammar schools: Poole Grammar School for Boys (01202 692132 and poolegrammar.com) and Parkstone Grammar School for Girls (01202 605605 and parkstone.poole.sch.uk). Typical of Poole’s state schools is Poole High School, a leading comprehensivefor 12-18-year-olds (01202 666988 and poolehigh.poole.sch.uk). The Poole branch of Bournemouth & Poole College in North Road offers an ever-increasing range of higher education courses, including foundation degrees, delivered in partnership with its associate universities (01202 205180/205339 or thecollege.co.uk).

Could you live here?Situated on Clifton Road, within easy reach of the local shops at Penn Hill and Canford Cliffs Village, this classic family house built in 1911 has been beautifully modernised and yet also retains many original features. It consists of a kitchen/breakfast room with utility, lounge, dining room, family room, games room and cloakroom and it has six bedrooms (one en-suite) and two bathrooms. The landscaped gardens include a hot tub and the beach is just under a mile away. It is on the market with Savills Canford Cliffs for �1,250,000. For details call 01202 708888.

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ShoppingWith several out-of-town shopping venues and many national shops in and around the Dolphin Centre, there are plenty of retail therapy opportunities. There are also many interesting shops around the High Street and harbour, such as Frank Greenslades in New Quay Road which has been selling freshly caught fish since 1884. In the newly developed harbourside complex on Poole Quay, Toby Chapman’s Deli On The Quay is rapidly building a reputation as the place for delicious lunches, with freshly cooked quiches, soups and salads with home-baked focaccia and sourdough bread.

Out and AboutFor the sporty… Learn to sail at Rockley Sailing School in Poole Harbour; courses are run at weekends, evenings and over several days. Rockley’s other centre in Poole Park offers short sailing and windsurfing courses as well as one-hour taster sessions (01202 677272 or rockleywatersports.com). Poole Rugby Club welcomes players of all abilities, young and old, and has exchange tours on alternate years with their twin club in Barentin in France (07906 966175 or poolerugby.co.uk). The Dolphin Swimming Pool, close to Poole Bus Station, has a near-Olympic-size pool, separate diving pool and learner pool and offers diving and swimming lessons as well as aqua-aerobics sessions (01202 677217). There has been speedway racing in Poole since 1948 when Poole Speedway entered the 3rd Division of the new National League; some 60 years later the team is enjoying a very successful 2010. Visit The Stadium in Wimborne Road, where there are also regular greyhound racemeetings (01202 681145 or poolespeedway.net). For youngsters and the young at heart Splashdown at Tower Park is an action-packed water park with a dazzling selection of rides, each with its own thrilling twists and turns (01202 716123 or splashdownpoole.co.uk).

The great outdoors… To savour Poole’s green spaces without wandering too far from the old town, there’s a super walk, starting at Poole’s lifting bridge on the quay and following the quayside to the wide open space of Baiter, passing under the London-Weymouth railway line and finishing in Poole Park. At Tourist Information, pick up a leaflet on the ‘Cockle Trail’, an hour-long walk around Poole’s historic old town. The family-friendly Poole Park has a boating lake, model yacht pool, enclosed playground, sit-and-ride railway around wildlife ponds, a bowling club, tennis courts, crazy golf, two caf�s and restaurants, and countless spots for picnics. Hamworthy Park is a less well-known, but delightful park with playground facilities; you can also paddle from the upper harbour’s shingle beaches or enjoy a picnic in your own beach hut.

 A bit of history…Scaplen’s Court in High Street, Old Poole, is an educational centre for children throughout the year and open to the public during August when you can visit its walled garden, which has been beautifully restored by volunteers (01202 262600 or boroughofpoole.com/museums).Upton House is a late-Georgian Grade II Listed property built by Christopher Spurrier, who had the Poole Turnpike road diverted and enlarged the parkland when he built the house between 1816-18. Open every day from 9am until dusk. Picnic on the lawns or enjoythe wildlife-themed guided walks (01202 672625 or uptoncountrypark.org).

A bit of art…The Lighthouse in Kingland Road is Poole’s ‘Centre for the Arts’, home to the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra and the UK’s biggest arts centre outside London, where you can see national musical tours, contemporary and classical dance, plays and live music. Bookings 0844 406 8666 or visit lighthousepoole.co.uk. At the world-famous Poole Pottery in Orchard Street, just off the Quay, you can paint your own masterpiece on mugs, plates and plaster figures in their ‘Pottery Experience’ (01202 668681 or poolepottery.co.uk).

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