Saturday, 30 June 2007

Our disappearing history

Whilst keeping a watching eye regarding the planning application to demolish The Cockleshell (left) in Lagland Street, Poole and replace with a 5 storey block of 10 flats I stumbled across the reason for the strange name. The Cockleshell Heroes were a small group of hand picked marines who in 1942 led by Major Hasler carried out a daring raid on enemy shipping by paddling canoes deep into enemy territory. Of the 5 boats who set out only 2 made the gruelling 70 mile journey down the perilous River Gironde with its ferocious currents to plant their specially designed ‘limpet’ mines on the enemy ships moored in Bordeaux harbour. Of the 10 men who set out only 2 survived, the rest were either drowned or captured and shot as saboteurs. The link with Poole and the pub is that the 2 men folding canoes, or ‘cockles’, designed to store the mines during the journey were made in Poole and both men and canoes were immortalised in the 1955 film ‘Cockleshell Heroes’.

At time of going to press we thought the pub would be no more as Primetower Properties’ application to build a five-storey block of flats on the site was showing as having been decided on March 30th 2007, but it was not accepted. One reason given was that "the proposed demolition of this buildign of local importance will have a prejudicial impact on the architectural and historic character and appearance of the locality..." (p. 5)

The Swan Inn, on the Quay, is also under threat. Decisions are still to be made but Pegasus Planning Group may be likely to gain permission to build a new block of flats adjoining the current development on Poole Quay. The latest plans do hold out some hope that whilst the building will still be demolished it is now the Pegasus’s intention to reuse the tiled fa├žade within the new development. How much of the tile work and exactly if it will be accessible is not very clear from the drawings but hopefully the two elegant tubelined swans with their beaks full of swag and the Marston’s Poole Ales signage will be retained.

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