A War Memorial for Poole?

A common feature during, and after the First World War, was a desire to commemorate and remember those who had given their lives during the conflict. Poole was no different but what is remarkable is that the War Memorial in Poole Park was unveiled as late as 1927. A Culture Vulture volunteer working on the Poole History Centre First World War project provides a timeline up to the end of 1920 of the debate about a war memorial in Poole.

All agreed that there should be a memorial but there was no agreement over what form it should take. Opinions were clearly divided between those who believed that it should be of practical value and those in favour of a ‘traditional’ memorial. The dates are those of the Poole and East Dorset Herald newspaper in which the article or correspondence appeared with the aim of giving an idea of people’s opinions as expressed in the local newspaper. Not all references are included here.

  • 12 July 1917 A meeting of invited people was held in the Guildhall to discuss a War Memorial for Poole. A person commented that ‘before they did anything in the way of stonework they should see that proper provision was made for the wounded and the relatives of those who had fallen in the War’. The aim was to set up an Executive Committee to determine the best course of action.
  • 26 July 1917 Instead of a war memorial there should be Homes of Rest for Disabled Soldiers or Almshouses wrote a correspondent.
  • 26 July 1917 A correspondent wrote that ‘I hope the memorial will not take the form of statuary, which would be of no special interest to future generations’.
  • 2 August 1917 A correspondent wrote that almshouses would only benefit a few while public baths would be of use for many – often the only opportunity to have a bath was at the public baths.
  • 16 August 1917 A correspondent proposed a monument near the Wesleyan Church with a bell, similar to the Curfew Bell, that could be rung.
  • 23 August 1917 A request for names to be provided by those who had died in the war for a ‘War Heroes Memorial’ had largely been ignored. The report did wonder if people were aware of the project.
  • 30 August 1917 A Poole soldier serving with the Heavy Artillery Group wanted a workshop to be built for wounded soldiers.
  • 21 March 1918 The Sheriff to convene a public meeting about a war memorial. The Editorial of the newspaper expressed a hope that no soldier’s or sailor’s name would go ‘unrecorded’.
  • 11 April 1918 Suggestions included a bed endowed at Cornelia Hospital, almshouses, or a memorial with an ‘inscription of the names of the men of Poole who had given their lives’.
  • 18 April 1918 A correspondent suggested swimming baths, housing, reconstruction of Hamworthy Bridge, and a new museum. Another correspondent wanted a clock tower in Poole Park with the names of those who had died to be recorded on a plinth.

The end of the war saw no decision being made.

  • 20 February 1919 Poole War Memorial committee proposed that the memorial should be in two parts at a total cost of £10 000. Firstly, a 30ft tower should be built on Constitution Hill, with the names of those who had died recorded on stone tablets, and possible trophies from the war, such as captured German guns, and tearooms. The second was the purchase of two semi-detached houses in Seldown, ‘Forest Holme’ and ‘Belle Vue’, and to convert them into a convalescent home for soldiers.
  • 6 February 1919 In a Council meeting, an opinion was expressed that there should be a central memorial on Constitution Hill with another option being a monument at the old Toll Gate House in Longfleet.
  • 27 February 1919 A poorly-attended public meeting threw out the Poole War Memorial committee’s suggestions.
  • 6 March 1919 Concern was expressed that the convalescent homes could easily be condemned with a new Government Health Ministry being proposed and any money spent on them would be wasted. The tower idea was ‘useless’. Some wanted a Poole War Memorial Institute.
  • 20 March 1919 Poole War Memorial committee resigns after the response to its proposal for the tower on Constitution Hill and a convalescent home was unenthusiastically received.
  • 27 March 1919 A correspondent suggested that a fully equipped fire station would be a useful memorial for the town.
  • 27 March 1919 A public meeting was to be held to discuss the proposed extension to Cornelia Hospital as a memorial.
  • 3 April 1919 A correspondent considered a monument was a waste of money, the extension to the Hospital as not necessary, and wanted houses built for rent to returning soldiers.
  • 3 April 1919 The Cornelia Hospital Committee proposed an extension to the hospital and intended to raise £10 000 with 75% spent on the extension and 25% on a monument.
  • 10 April 1919 Opponents to the hospital extension believed that the State should pay for hospitals.
  • 17 April 1919 At a poorly-attended meeting it was proposed that an extension of Cornelia Hospital should be the town’s war memorial. 24 voted for the proposal and 10 were against.
  • 1 May 1919 East Dorset Guild of Workers was closed. The Guild had provided clothing and food packages to soldiers at the front, in hospital and POWs. Its remaining funds were distributed with the Poole Hospital War Memorial Fund receiving £700 and the Isolation Hospital £10. A comment was made by some that more money should have gone to the Isolation Hospital.
  • 15 May 1919 A soldier serving in Germany with the Royal Garrison Artillery wanted public baths.
  • 22 May 1919 Another committee was formed which hoped to work with the hospital extension committee, this time to create an educational Institute, with baths, for ex-soldiers.
  • 26 June 1919 A soldier serving with the army of occupation in Germany wrote that statues had no use. They wanted public baths because they would need one when they got home.
  • 26 June 1919 Funds should be raised to create a memorial by extending the Hospital and building an Institute with monies divided 75:25.
  • 17 July 1919 Some supported the idea that a fire engine should be purchased as a war memorial as the existing fire engine was not fit for purpose.
  • 10 June 1920 A branch of the League of Nations was formed in Poole at a packed meeting held in the Guildhall. A view was expressed by some that those who had died during the war would want, as a memorial, the unity of nations. The branch had around 500 members by August. The League of Nations came into being with the Treaty of Versailles and it was hoped that future wars could be avoided by nations working together. There is a suggestion that Poole was the first place in Dorset to have a branch.
War memorial Poole park.

War Memorial Poole Park from the Poole Museum collection

During August 1920, the local newspaper was once again discussing the lack of, and the need for, a memorial in Poole. The long editorial of 12 August expressed a hope that a decision would be made without delay and work begun soon. And yet again there was no consensus.

  • 19 August 1920 A cenotaph should be built at the junction of Mount Street (now part of Lagland Street) and High Street.
  • 19 August 1920 A correspondent believed that instead of a monument an Endowment fund for the Cornelia Hospital should be created with a simple plaque recording the reason. There was no free National Health Service until 1948 and everything had to be paid for – at the time there were concerns the hospital could struggle to survive.
  • 26 August 1920 Money should be given to the Mayor’s fund for a ‘Poole’ workshop at Enham Village Centre for disabled ex-servicemen. The fund had only raised £105. The correspondent believed that this was the best war memorial the town could have. Enham Village was created in 1919, with the support of King George V and Queen Mary, to provide training for disabled soldiers in trades such as upholstery and gardening. 150 men were in residence at the end of 1919. It provided the same care to injured soldiers during the Second World War.
  • 11 November 1920 The Cenotaph in London was unveiled by the King in a day of remembrance that included the interment of the ‘Unknown Warrior’ in Westminster Abbey.

From the timeline it is clear that people wanted a memorial but as to what form it should take was unclear. How unusual was Poole’s experience is not known. However, the local newspaper of 20 March 1919 reported on a meeting held in Dorchester into a war memorial for the town. Suggestions put forward included public baths, a convalescent home or rest home for soldiers and the meeting ended with no agreement. The debate in Poole was only resolved when Alderman H. Carter spoke in 1925 about the need for ‘a timeless tribute to all war dead’ which eventually led to the unveiling of Poole War Memorial in Poole Park on October 16 1927.

And the story is continued here on the Poole Museum Society Blog


The First Concrete Barge to Be Built in Britain

The first ferro-concrete barge to be built in Britain was launched from the Hamworthy Shipyard, Poole of Hill, Richards & Co on 24 August 1918. A Culture Volunteer on the Poole History Centre First World War project describes the background to the launch and the actual event.

The Ministry of Munitions had decided in late 1917 that concrete ships could help overcome the shortage of steel and would only need an unskilled workforce. 154 barges and tugs were ordered in February 1918 but the requirement for them ended with the declaration of peace and it is believed that only 54 barges and 12 tugs were actually built. A concrete barge cost around £27 500 compared to nearly £18 000 for a steel barge and it was found that a more skilled workforce was required than had been anticipated. The scheme lost nearly £3million and it was concluded that the project was carried out on too large a scale for an experiment although it was accepted that war-time necessitated the effort.

Construction of ‘Admiralty Auxiliary Shipyard Extension No 62’ at Hamworthy began in December 1917 on marsh and farmland by Poole Harbour. It took around 10 months to construct the 16 slipways and associated works and eventually covered 250 acres. A timber mill was needed to provide the wood used in the building of the moulds for the ships. The original plan was to cover the slipways to stop wind and frost damaging the concrete as it ‘cured’ but the cessation of war meant that this was not needed. The shipyard gave the Hamworthy branch line a new life having been singled in 1905. The second line was reinstated in 1916 to enable materials to be brought in and Lake Halt was built for the shipyard workers.

The first barge to be launched was PD 25 (known as Cretacre). It took about six months to build to a design of the Marine and General Concrete Construction Company. The barge had a double skin and its dimensions were 190ft long, 33ft beam and 15ft 6in deep.

The launch ceremony was a major event for Poole and the shipyard was decorated with flags and streamers. Several thousand people gathered to watch the opening ceremony carried out by the Mayoress of Poole (Mrs Dolby) at 12 o’clock on the Saturday. As the barge went down the slipway a paddle steamer waited in Poole Harbour. The Premier, of Cosens of Weymouth, had been hired to act as a tug because the concrete barge was unpowered. The Premier towed the barge to the Claypits Pier which was adjacent to the shipyard.

An employee sports event was held in the afternoon with prizes awarded by Mrs Ward, wife of the Commander of the Poole Naval Base. Sports included egg and spoon races, wheelbarrow races, and tilting at the water bucket. The Tug of War for men was won by the ‘barge carpenters labourers’ and in the ladies competition the lady typists beat the lady accountants. The Poole Town Band provided the musical entertainment. Among those who attended the launch was a group of men from the Cornelia Hospital in Poole. They were known as the ‘boys in blue’ because they wore blue uniforms to indicate they had been wounded in the war.

On January 16 1919 a ferro-concrete oil-tanker, designed to carry a 1000 tons of oil, was launched from the shipyard. HRH Prince Nicholas, Crown Prince of Romania performed the launch ceremony of OC 601 at 9.30 am with the traditional bottle of wine.

F4d_0016 - The Crown Prince about to launch OC 601

The platform was decorated with British and Romanian flags; Romania had declared war on Austria, an ally of Germany, in 1916. The barge had Romanian flags at the stern and a Union Jack on the mast. Even though the event was more low-key than the launch of PD 25, around a thousand workers watched the event.

F4d_0017 - The launch of OC 601

The Romanian military attache and directors from Hill, Richards were among the launch party, as well as Mr E.O. Williams, who had invented the system used in the construction. Interestingly, the concrete barge has in the photograph the name ‘Prince Nicholas’ on the bow. The Prince then went to visit the German submarine U 107 which was at Poole Quay.

F4d_0022 The launch of PD25 with the Premier in the background

The Table gives the known details about the barges that were built by the Hill, Richards & Co shipyard in Hamworthy, Poole. The newspaper report of the launch of PD 25 noted that eight barges and three steam tugs were on the timber construction frames.

Name (1) Type PD No (2) Launch Use and final fate
Cretacre Barge PD25 24/8/18 Army stores transport – scrapped 1948
Cretabode Barge PD26 1918 Army stores transport – deregistered 1952
Cretalp Barge 1918 Army stores transport – depot ship 1924
Creteol Oil barge 16/1/19 Civilian use -Sold to France 1937
Cretoleum Oil barge 1919 Civilian use -Sold to France 1937
Cretarch Barge PD42 1919 Civilian use – Scrapped and sunk 1922
Creterill Barge PD29 1919 Civilian use – Sold to Norway 1922
Cretearmour Barge PD28 1919 Civilian use – Sold to Brazil 1926
Cretangle Barge PD30 1919 Civilian use – Broken up at Shoreham 1957


  • Sometimes the spelling is different eg Creteangle instead of Cretangle, Cretol instead of Creteol.
  • Port discharge number = Government Hull number

Gardiners Shipbuilding and Engineering Co purchased the shipyard in July 1919. The company had great plans and had an initial contract to build six 7 200 ton steel steamers. By November 1920, the company was facing compulsory liquidation for unpaid debts from several companies and the company folded.

German U-boats in Poole Harbour

An unusual aspect of the Poole First World War Project is that, while the main focus is on 1914-1918, the Project is also interested in what happened in Poole post-1918.  Looking through the Poole & East Dorset Herald newspaper, a Culture Volunteer has come across the report of unusual event – the visit of two German U-boats to Poole in January 1919; one accidental and one planned.

U 143 was being escorted to Japan by two Japanese destroyers, Kanran and Kashiwa, as part of the compensation settlement between Japan and Germany. The newspaper has a brief report of U 143 becoming stuck on a sandbank in Poole Bay and being recovered with great difficulty. Another source records that the U-boat, which was being crewed by Japanese sailors, was taken into the Harbour for assessment and repairs. During this time, the destroyers were docked at Poole Quay much to the interest of on-lookers. U 143 eventually set sail for Japan where it was renumbered O 7. It served in the Japanese Navy until it was scrapped in 1921. Although the newspaper described it as U 143 it is more accurately known as UB 143 because it was a Type UB III submarine.

The other German submarine in Poole during January 1919 was U 107. A Royal Navy crew had sailed the U-boat from Portland to Poole for a planned 11 day visit from January 6. Over 10,000 people, including many schoolchildren, took advantage of the U-boat’s stay to explore the submarine, with donations going to the King’s Fund for Disabled Officers and Soldiers. A reporter from the Poole & East Dorset Herald gave a layman’s description of the inside of the submarine, such as sleeping arrangements, and mentions that at the bow there were ‘four 19.5 torpedoes in position’. The submarine returned to Portland on completion of its visit and Herbert Carter, a former Mayor of Poole, was on the return trip. He explains that one reason for being on-board was that he could translate the German ‘control notices’. He notes that the submarine only sailed on the surface and did not submerge.

U 107 on Poole Quay

But which U 107 was on Poole Quay given that there are three possibilities; UB 107 (a Type UB III), UC 107 (a Type UC III mine laying) or U 107 (a Type U 93)?
– UB 107 was sunk off the Yorkshire coast and, although wreckage has been identified, there is uncertainty as to the date and circumstances of its sinking.
– UC 107 did not have four torpedo tubes at the bow. It was given in war reparations, but it is unclear if it went to Britain or France.
– U 107 had four torpedo tubes at the bow which fits with the reporter’s description. U 107 was surrendered at Harwich on 20 November 1918 and scrapped in Swansea in 1922. In another source, the Japanese wanted U 107 instead of U 99, which they claimed was not seaworthy, and were told by the Royal Navy that it was destined for America.

It follows that the German U-boat on Poole Quay during January 1919 was the Type 93 U 107. And there the story would have ended if it was not for some research carried out by another Culture Volunteer who found a short film of the actual visit in the British Pathe Archive (www.britishpathe.com/video/u-boats-visit-the-south-coast). The film shows the U-boat alongside Poole Quay, near the Customs House, with crowds of people clearly inspecting the U-boat with great interest. However, it must have been with mixed feelings. U 107 is believed to have sunk 25 000 tons of shipping since its launch in 1917. Curiosity at seeing a U-boat close-up must have been coupled with sadness knowing this, together with over three hundred like it, had sunk millions of tons of shipping and cost tens of thousands of lives.

Poole First World War Timeline Reaches 100 Records on the Centenary of the Battle of Amiens

The Poole First World War Timeline is a fascinating chronological catalogue of events from 1914 to just after the end of the War. It brings to life the impact of the war on Poole and those who lived in the town against a backdrop of the major historical events. It is appropriate that this point has been reached as August 8 is the centenary of the Battle of Amiens which was a major turning point in the war and marked the beginning of the end of the conflict.

The timeline is being created using the resources of the Poole History Centre and, in particular, the East Dorset Herald newspaper so as to bring a local aspect to an international conflict.

Each record has information about an event for a particular day and there is often a link to more information which means that the timeline can act as a gateway to further resources. It is also not a static record because new or additional information is always being added.

But what can we learn about the First World War and Poole? The timeline describes major events, such as the Battle of Verdun, the sinking of the RMS Lusitania, and the Battle of Jutland, but its uniqueness is that it places these against the effect of the war at a local level.

So, for instance, we learn that a letter was published in the East Dorset Herald on 7 September 1914 asking for the loan of bicycles to help Poole Sea Scouts patrol Sandbanks. This was an important role because many places along the coast were fearful of spies being landed and there were concerns over a possible naval attack.

The First World War was a time of social change within the town. It was considered noteworthy that, as reported in the East Dorset Herald newspaper of 2 September 1915, three women were now working in the Poole postal area.

The First World War involved everybody in the town. A tank, which was a British invention, visited many towns and cities in the country to raise funds for the war effort. When one came to Poole in June 1918, Poole Secondary School pupils were praised for purchasing over £1000 of war certificates.


First World War Tank on Poole Quay from the collection of Poole Museum

What has been surprising when looking at the local newspaper is just how much was done through charity and fund-raising. For example, money was raised for many local hospitals, such as the Cornelia Hospital, to look after wounded soldiers, to provide food parcels for POWs and to provide warm clothing for soldiers. It also extended to providing, for example, hospital and refreshment vans. We take for granted the National Health Service and the Welfare State and it is hard to understand what life would have been like in their absence at a time of major disruption. Families were being torn apart through bereavement and wounded soldiers needed hospitals and after-care. There was great uncertainty and social upheaval during the war, but this continued after the Armistice was signed when hundreds of thousands of men returned home not knowing if they had a job, a home or a family.

Poole, the First World War and its Legacy timeline

Military Appeal Tribunals Part 2: ‘Are There Any Women Here Today?’


‘Australian Sketches Made on Tour, p.30. Harry Furniss. Public Domain’

Women were largely represented in the local appeal tribunals through the words of others.

Although women had been earning law degrees since 1888, at the time of the First World War they could not technically graduate or have their degrees awarded to them. This was compounded in 1913 when the Law Society refused to let four women sit the Law Society examinations. These women took their case to the court of appeal, but the court decided in the Society’s favour, Mr. Justice Joyce ruling that, ‘women were not ‘persons’ within the meaning of the 1843 Solicitors Act.’

It would remain this way until the Sex Disqualification Act of 1919. Therefore, they would not be representing the men appealing for exemption for military service as Harold Salt (a solicitor from Bournemouth) would do so often throughout 1916 to 1918.

However, there was at least one woman out of the thirteen people who made up the Poole Tribunal Board. Her name was Edith Cloutman. Born Edith Hicks, she was married to a builder’s clerk named Sidney Thomas Cloutman and they lived on Curtis Road in Upper Parkstone. When she was voted onto the local tribunal board in 1916 she was already a member of the Poole Board of Guardians, representing Parkstone East, and had been doing so for some time prior to 1914.

In 1921 she would be appointed as a magistrate, one of two women to do so that year – the other being Mrs. Reginald Fawkes. These two would be the first women appointed as magistrates in Poole.

The Bournemouth Guardian for 3rd December 1921 would describe Edith as:

‘[A] Labour Party nominee, she is a good worker upon the Board of Guardians, but has not yet obtained success in her attempts to capture a seat upon the Council. Her quiet, practical wisdom and sane judgement will be of value on the Bench, as will her sympathy with the unfortunate.’

In 1916, though, all that lay ahead.

Continue reading

Work Experience submarine research

This work was done by a student on work experience at the Museum. They have collected some information about the men from Poole who served on Submarines from the Roll of Honour.

Only two men from Poole served on Royal Navy submarines and didn’t return – this was because the British admiralty thought at the time that submersible warfare was scandalous, and the only ‘right and proper’ way to do battle at sea was on the surface. Only eighty were in service when the First World War began in 1914, but by the end of it the Royal Navy had employed around 350 (Germany had more, at about 375).

Charles Trickett served on the Royal Navy HM Submarine L.55. Based in Tallinn, Estonia, it was part of the Baltic Battle squadron fighting for Baltic independence against the Soviet Union. On the 9th July, 1919, she attacked two Soviet minelayer-destroyers in the Gulf of Finland. But she missed her targets and was forced into a minefield, where she was sunk by soviet gunfire. The wreck was recovered by Soviet salvage crews in 1927, and raised in August 1928 – the remains of the 34 crewmen were returned to Britain to be buried in Portsmouth. The submarine was repurposed and later used for training crews in the Soviet Union.

Hedley Alexander Grant served on the HM Submarine L.10. One of the first of the L-Class boats serving in the Royal Navy, she was sent to the North Sea to try to prevent German minelaying over British naval routes. On the 3rd October 1918, only four months old, she came across a raiding party of four destroyers who had stopped, as one of them had detonated a mine. As they were distracted, her commander Alfred Edward Whitehouse was able to take them by surprise and hit a destroyer with a torpedo, sinking it. However, L.10 was forced to surface and was spotted by the other members of the raiding party, as well as another lone destroyer. She attempted to escape, but was outmatched and too slow to evade them. She was sunk 11:03 (CET) with all 38 crewmen lost.L.52


Information and picture from www.naval-history.net

War Poetry

Austin Threlfall Nankivell (1884-1942) was Poole’s Medical Officer of Health between 1914 – 1921.  He was called up in 1915 and became a captain in the Royal Army Medical Corps until 1918, when he returned to his post in Poole.

He published articles and a book during the war, about trench fever and hygiene for soldiers.  He also penned a war poem:


SURELY the Keeper of the House of Death
Had long grown weary of letting in the old—
Of welcoming the aged, the short of breath,
Sad spirits, duller than their tales oft-told.
He must have longed to gather in the gold
Of shining youth to deck his dreary spaces—
To hear no more old wail and sorrowing.
And now he has his wish, and the young faces
Are crowding in: and laughter fills Death’s places;
And all his courts are gay with flowers of Spring.


Taken from A treasury of war poetry, British and American poems of the world war, 1914-1919

by George Herbert Clarke, 1917

Thanks to Poole’s Health Record for the information.

International Women’s Day 2018

For International Women’s Day we are publishing a post from our friends at Poole’s Health Record.


The first woman doctor in Poole?

The people of Poole had to wait longer than many others to be able to consult a female doctor in their town. It was well into the twentieth century that the first ones crop up, although there were 495 women doctors in the whole of England and Wales by 1911. It is also far from clear just who was the first in Poole.

There are, however, two who stand out:

Dr Enid Walters was living in Broadstone in 1911, and the census that year clearly recorded her occupation as Doctor. But Broadstone was then not part of Poole; it wasn’t until 1933 that it was incorporated into the Borough. Also there is no evidence that she actually practised in Poole, or even Broadstone.

Dr Mary Jeremy was definitely a doctor, but was a resident of Bournemouth. However there are reports in the local newspapers from 1909 about her involvement in a professional capacity with the Poole School of Mothers. This was, however, probably a voluntary role.

If both of these women are discounted, then we turn to Dr Ruth Scutt, who was born in Poole in 1892, qualifying as a doctor in 1919. She certainly lived in the town for a while after qualifying, but again it’s not clear she ever practised in Poole. But perhaps she was the first woman doctor born in Poole.

Dr Laura Horne didn’t arrive in Poole until 1922, surely far too late to count as the first? But she did stay in Poole from that time on, did practice as a doctor in the town, and became well known for her contribution to healthcare in Poole.

Dr Emmie Fenwick was another later arrival, coming to Poole in 1924, and then practising from premises in Parkstone Road. She achieved much during the Second World War, and returned to Poole late in life.

History doesn’t have to provide clear answers. What stands out from each of their stories is the remarkable things they achieved as pioneering women doctors.

Enid Margaret Walters was born in Dover in 1882, daughter of a clerical schoolmaster, who took his family to the Isle of Man when he was appointed to King William’s College. He died in post there in 1899, and Enid moved to Nottingham to be Lady Dispenser at the Children’s Hospital. She enrolled at the London School of Medicine for Women, qualifying in 1908. She was briefly in Cheltenham, before moving to Broadstone, where the census records her living with her widowed mother at Foxtons, a large house. However her mother died that year and Enid took up short term medical posts in Hull, at Devon County Asylum and the New Hospital for Women in London, despite still being listed as living in Broadstone. Then in July 1916 she volunteered, along with other women doctors, to join the Royal Army Medical Corps as a civilian doctor and work at hospitals in Malta with the wounded evacuated from the Gallipoli disaster. The next year she joined the Scottish Women’s Hospital group who ran the hospital at Villers-Cotterets, an outpost of the Royamount Abbey Hospital, close to the front line in Normandy. Reports state the surrounding countryside was stripped of trees, trenches lined the roads, and shell holes up to 30 feet deep splattered the fields, villages being reduced to piles of stone. As one of only 3 doctors at the time at Villers-Cotterets, this must have been a terrifying experience. She was eventually sent home, apparently exhausted, in September 1918. Her postwar career included working again in Hull, although strangely still listed in directories as living in Broadstone,  By 1929, finally, there is clear evidence of a local medical post, as an assistant medical officer for Dorset County Council, though unclear where. By 1939 she had retired and died in 1960 living in Wimborne.

Mary Ethel Jeremy was living with her widowed mother in the 1911 Census, listed as a Medical Practitioner. She was born in Dublin in 1865 to an Irish mother and a Welsh father, but in 1901 was living in Surrey after the death of her father. It was in her mid-30s when Mary  took the plunge and enrolled at the London School of Medicine for Women in London, qualifying in 1905. She worked at the Evalina Children’s Hospital in Southwark before taking the huge step of travelling to take up a post at the Memorial Hospital, Ludhiana in India. She was back within a few years, however, as in October 1909  she is recorded as being at a fundraising concert for the Poole Mothers’ Association, and the next year as judging a baby contest at the Association with 2 male doctors. The Mothers’ Association became Poole School for Mothers providing antenatal and child care advice and support for the poorer townsfolk, linked to council-run services, but run as a voluntary agency. It had branches in the Poole districts of Newtown, Hamworthy and Longfleet. In 1915 Mary was still involved, giving a talk to the mothers on diphtheria, and examining the physique of babies at the School; that year she also did similar work in Bournemouth at the Free Church Babies Home. During the First World War Mary was also active in supporting the work of the British hospital at St Malo, and she spent some time working at the Southampton University War Hospital. In 1919 she was awarded the OBE, presumably for her wartime work. She was an active participant in the local branch of the British Medical Association, alongside Dr Evelyn Bond, probably Bournemouth’s first woman doctor. Mary retired to live in Colehill, and died in 1935.

Ruth Mary Scutt was born in Poole on 26th December 1892 to a well-known local family, living at Seldown Towers in Seldown Road.  Her father was a wealthy corn merchant and Ruth was educated at Bournemouth High School and went on to London University. She was a medical student there in 1914 at the London School of Medicine for Women and qualified as a doctor in 1919. She worked as House Physician and Resident Medical Officer at the Westminster Hospital and the Children’s Hospital in Bethnal Green. She was listed as living in Poole up to 1923, but in 1924 she altered her life completely by travelling to India to take up a post there. She married Richard Purssell OBE, a high-ranking official in the Indian Government Telegraph Service and Director of Calcutta Tramways, and returned to England in 1928 with a husband and 2 children. Their address was then St Ann’s Court, Canford Cliffs, Poole. Ruth may not have practised again and is shown as retired in 1939. She died in 1984 living in Guildford.

Laura Katherine Maule Horne may be remembered today primarily as the wife of the town’s Medical Officer of Health, Robert Maule Horne, but should be better known as being the driving force behind the East Dorset Shilling Fund, which raised funds for Cornelia Hospital’s new maternity ward in 1930. She was Welsh, and the sister of Clement Davies, one-time leader of the Liberal Party. She had qualified in 1913, and worked at a war hospital in Edinburgh and then as an Assistant Medical Officer of Health in Burnley. Like Mary Jeremy she worked with local groups in child health, until the Second World War when she became a casualty officer in Poole. She certainly supported her husband’s public health work, and in 1927 actually took over from him for several weeks when he was injured after an accident at work. Poole never had another female Medical Officer of Health, even Acting! She died in Poole in 1967.

Emmie Dorothy Vivian Fenwick was born in 1896 in London, daughter of Dr Samuel Fenwick. She followed him into the medical profession, studying at the London School of Medicine for Women and qualifying in 1922. She held posts at St Mary’s Hospital in London. By 1924 she was living at 94 Parkstone Road, Poole, listed as surgeon and physician, which means she was in practice. By 1930 she was back in London. However in 1941 she joined the RAF Medical Branch, and by the end of the Second World War had been promoted to the rank of Squadron Leader, and was awarded the MBE.  After the war she worked for London County Council, but returned later to Poole, as she died in the town in 1972.

These were the first lady doctors in Poole, very few in number. It wasn’t until the Second World War when the town’s main hospital, the Cornelia, employed female medical staff. The first was probably Miss M. Ostererreicher, a Czechoslovak citizen appointed as House Physician in 1939. The same year the hospital took on Dr Laura Horne, Dr Katherine Andrew, and Dr Hilda de Peyer as Casualty Officers.

Today of course the gender composition of doctors in the country is near parity, and female medical students have outnumbered males. The early decades of the twentieth century saw women only very slowly enter Poole’s medical profession. However, if the identity of the first lady doctor is unclear, perhaps it is better just to contemplate their stories.


Written to coincide with Poole Museum’s exhibition Her Story: Tales of Poole Women Past and Present.

Military Service Tribunals


Poole and Dorset Herald, 9th March 1916

Local military service tribunals were originally set up in October 1915. Their original aim was to co-ordinate ‘military service requirements with those of civil departments and vital industries’, and as such they considered the postponement of calling up voluntarily attested men for military service. The central tribunal was set up in November. Local tribunals often forwarded cases to them for a final decision, and they also heard appeals against the decisions made in local tribunals.

In 1916 the Military Service Act introduced conscription, meaning that military service was now compulsory. Continue reading

Rescued and Rescuer


Poole Quay has long had a prominent space in the history of Poole as a whole, a history marked with trading, D- Day landing involvement, marriages and more. However, smaller events are also dotted along the long line of Poole Quays history, such as this one:

On December 27th 1917, almost one hundred years ago, it was reported in a local newspaper “Rescued and Rescuer.” The short article tells of the heroics of Albert Edmunds when he saved 3 year old Ronald Medland after the child was accidently pushed into the harbour. Ronald Medland was on the quay with his mother and two other children when one of the children accidently pushed Medland off the quay into the water, Edmands, who was walking along the quay at the time, heard a woman call that there was a child floating down the harbour and “decided to heed her call.” Edmands grabbed a rope attached to a nearby vessel, then grasped the child and held him suspended  between his legs until a Mr Morrison , who was overseer at the Base, came and took the boy to safety.

Robert Medland was born in Poole in 1914, to Mr and Mrs Medland. The family lived on Cinnamon Lane-which still exists today, and is very close to the quay around old town Poole. The hero of the story, Albert Edmunds, was born in Benhall, in Suffolk, to William Edmunds and Eliza Edmunds where he had 3 siblings: Victor, Edward and Hilton. Albert was stationed at the Poole Naval Base with the General Service Infantry that he was involved in during the war, having signed up to the army with a short service attestation. This short service attestation was introduced and used from 1914-1917. The short service attestation was also called the “Derby Scheme” and was during this time there was a change in the way that men were organised during conscription, in an effort to raise the number of men signing up to fight during the war.

This story is just one of many that have defined the history of Poole and the quay, whether it be war related, society of the time or just general interest stories, and its stories like this that will be the concept for the new Poole Museum WW1 website. A website that will make the stories of people, from WW1, like Ronald Medland and Albert Edmunds accessible to everyone and show how these individual stories all characterised Poole during the war and the way we know it today.

Poole WW1  Website