Salterns Court: my personal memories of Lilliput

4 September, 2018 | Contributions, Of Local Interest

from David Mitchell

As a native of Dorset I moved to the Poole area in 1951 at the age of 4 years and although there have been period of many years away, the area has always remained my spiritual home.

My childhood weekends were spent on the Haven Beach when Sandbanks still had rolling sand dunes and was relatively undiscovered and not a status symbol for millionaire footballers.

My memories of Lilliput were primarily of the white art deco building housing the strip of shops. I later learned that the block was built in 1936 and the first shop opened in 1939.

The Beehive Hotel - July 1958. Courtesy: Eldridge Pope

My parents used to tell stories of the giant Sunderland Air Boats that soared across the harbour in front of Salterns Court in the 1940s when the Marina was the only international airport in the UK.

Later as a pupil of Canford School, I little realised that the Old Canford Manor records mentioned the construction of saltings or salterns over 400 years ago and that these would one day be the site of my retirement home.

As an older teenager the Beehive Pub – demolished for the development of the up market sheltered housing – was a favourite watering hole. A little way down the road was the exotically named Blue Lagoon swimming pool and I had no idea it was actually part of the Marine Club.

The cemetery opposite is the resting place for my grandfather who came to live with us in Lilliput.

Sandbanks Road, Lilliput Square looking west
BOAC Sunderland G-AGJN on Poole Harbour. Courtesy: Wing Commander (Rtd) R W Kemsley

Occasional forays into Poole were mainly for my young parents to provide free entertainment for my sister and I by parking on the Quay under the conveyor belts to watch as tons of coal was carried from ship to shore. The black dust and spilling lumps were great fun for us and the scene was a far cry from the plush flats and restaurants that now stand on the site of the giant coal bunkers and warehouses. Poole was still a working port with dirty grimy cargo ships rather than sleek white billion pound Sunseekers.

Venturing into Poole Old Town was no fun as it was run down and still to be renovated. Even worse was Hamworthy where the coal fired power station towered above what to us was almost a no go area of social deprivation. Hard to believe many now see the beautiful backwater of the harbour to have the potential to be the next Sandbanks.

I consider myself very fortunate to live in the midst of so many happy memories and Salterns Court is therefore a very special place for many reasons.

This article is a personal contribution from local resident David Mitchell; the views expressed are his own and do not necessarily represent the views of the DLRA. Thank you.