Shopping in the Town of Poole

The advent of the Arndale Centre, now the Dolphin Centre, in Poole was regarded by many as a threat to small traders and the High Street. The coming of supermarkets and national chain-stores could indeed be regarded as a mixed blessing.

Unique Stores

It is interesting to find out that the traders in the Arndale centre set up a social club for traders and their employees. One of the early events in 1971 was a Cheese and Wine evening which took place in the centre and hosted the first round of the Miss Arndale beauty contest.



Other events included a pantomime trip for the children and a Valentine dance with live bands. The Arndale centre magazine was published including articles of interest, recipes and fun pages. 

I understand this association still exists today and even has council representatives on it. The days of beauty contests are long gone of course but the provision of activities and free events continues. There was an Easter egg hunt and free performances regularly occur

So how does this impact the rest of the High street?

High Street 1987

For those who choose to walk a little further and on occasion brave the elements, they find a mix of cafes, restaurants and pubs offering a great variety of eating.

Alongside this there are various specialist shops and a variety of charity shops. Bakers can be found but no butchers or greengrocers except on market day. Long established shops still provide their services in a changing world.

This is the attraction to me of Poole High Street, old and new shops exist side by side, modern architecture and ancient stones intermingle. From the Dolphin centre to the Quay there is plenty to see and explore. They have existed together for some years now and although small traders inevitably come and go and the economic constraints change the face of high streets up and down the country. Poole maintains a unique character and flavour.

Catherine Beal


About Poole High Street Project

Contact: Jenny Oliver -
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