Poole harbour, located on the South coast in Dorset, just 5 miles West of Bournemouth, is not the busiest port in the UK, but is no less important for the South coast trade. In 2010 Poole handled 982,000 tonnes of cargo traffic and should continue to thrive under its programme of modernisation.
Poole has a very strong container cargo network with ports within close proximity. Regular freight is shipped to Cherbourg in France, Santander in Spain and to the Channel islands of Alderney, Guernsey and Jersey.
Coming inland from the port, the main transit routes are the A31 eastbound, and the A35 to the West. Container transportation leaving the port via the A31 can join the motorway network at the M27, shortly afterwards joining the M3. This will take any shipment through Winchester (44 miles), then Basingstoke (63 miles) and onto London (112 miles).
Leaving Poole harbour via the A35 arterial road will take you westbound into Somerset and Devon, via Dorchester (24 miles).
Poole harbour has a long and colourful history. The Romans used Poole as an invasion port for their conquest of southern Britain. Medieval Poole had trading links from the Baltic to Spain and Italy. The 17th century saw the start of a transatlantic trade, which became vital to the town. In particular, trade with Newfoundland was the foundation of many fortunes among Poole merchants. In the early 18th century Poole had more ships trading with North America than any other English port.
At the start of the nineteenth century, 90% of the residential population of Poole were involved in the activity of the harbour, but one hundred years later this had diminished to just 20%. Today Poole harbour has started to thrive again, and is a major port for bulk cargo imports such as steel, and this should continue with the harbours close links to Europe and the Channel islands.