Taken around 1872, this picture shows the corner where High Street, Hill Street and Towngate Street meet, a very important junction in the past where all the traffic had to turn to get to or from the town gate. Even after the old gate was demolished in the late 17th century, Towngate Street remained the only entrance to Poole and in the 18th century the turnpike toll gate was built there. Strings of pack-horses, loaded carts and wagons, coaches with four horses, all had to negotiate the sharp turning. It was not until the 1840s that the end of the High Street was opened up and it became the major route out of town.
Number 110, the shop on the corner of High Street and Towngate Street (now Chapel Lane), was probably built in the second half of the 19th century, although there was a previous building on the site as maps show. From the 1890s, it was a butcher’s shop, first Eastman’s Ltd. and then Fred Budden’s from 1930 to 1935. It was probably in the 1920s or ‘30s that the building acquired its rather deco style façade and the fancy bull’s head plaque above the door. In the next few decades, the building was a grocer’s shop, a hosiery shop, a restaurant and Redefusion T.V. rentals. It is now the Photo Shop, photographic suppliers.
The older picture shows the lantern tower of St. Paul’s Church appearing above the roof of this corner building. St. Paul’s was built in 1833, set back from the High Street with its graveyard and entrance near the present day Macdonald’s (No. 118). It is described as a small structure built of white brick with stone dressings in the Grecian style. The church was demolished in the late 1950s. The spire of the Wesleyan Church which features in the modern picture, is not present in the older one. This church was built in 1879 and is still a major landmark in upper High Street.
Beyond the corner shop, the premises further up the street have been rebuilt and altered since the time of the old photograph. The next shop, No. 112 was the premises of Thomas Manuel, cabinet maker. In 1881, he lived there with his wife Elizabeth, their 3 children, Alfred, Mary and Thomas and their servant Charlotte Dunford. They employed 3 men and 3 boys in the business. Next door, at No. 114, was James Wheatley, boot and shoe maker with his wife Jane and their 3 daughters, Charlotte, Martha and Fanny. Charlotte was a draper’s assistant but Martha and Fanny were both school teachers which could account for the presence in the household of 2 school girls (one only 6 years old) as boarders. Beyond, at No. 116, was the ‘photographic artist’ William W. Burnand with his wife, daughter and 5 sons.
Towards the end of the century, traders started to move out to the suburbs and fewer continued to live over the shop. The census returns show many of these shops as uninhabited but from the directories of the 1920s we know that No. 112 became the World Stores Ltd., grocers which remained in business until 1963. No. 114 was occupied by George Edward Morse, pork butcher up to the 1930s when the World Stores expanded into the premises. Outfitters T. Perrins & Son traded from No. 116 for 50 years from the 1920s to the ‘70s.
On the right hand side of the street, two well remembered institutions came and went between the time of the two photographs. One was the Amity Hall; the other was Woolworth’s. The old picture shows the railings of an old house, built around 1766 for James Olive. Later in the 18th century, it was owned by the Garland family which became one of the leading families involved in the Newfoundland salt cod trade. In the 1880s, a hall was built in the back garden which later became the Amity Hall and then the Amity cinema, with a decorative portico on High Street. After the Amity was closed in 1959 and demolished, F. W. Woolworth relocated to this site from their previous premises at No. 78, and remained trading there for 50 years until the chain went into liquidation. Today This Is It occupies the building.
Tremendous changes have taken place in the 140 years between the two photographs. As a small example, in the old photograph, passers-by have gathered to stare at the unusual sight of a photographer on the High Street. In the modern picture, people stroll casually past the CCTV camera on its pole without a second thought, even though they know it is recording their every move!