About Us

The Pirates, Castaways & Codfish website is part of the legacy from a series of innovative community activities undertaken by Poole Bay Rotary.  It started in 2010/11 when the Club led a project to survey the old alleys and rights of way in Poole town centre.

Poole Bay Rotary

Poole Bay is one of three Rotary clubs in Poole under taking community service projects.  It is part of an international voluntary service organisation of 1.2 million members.

Rotary has been  at the forefront of the worldwide drive to eradicate Polio, contributing more than $2.1billion over the last 35 years, as well as countless volunteer hours.

In Poole the Club is well known for the hugely popular Santa Express, and for its Toddlethon (a sponsored walk for tots and their carers in Poole Park).  Local projects receiving support at present include Prama – Dementia Care, Routes to Roots, Waste Not Want Not.

The Alleys Project

To help protect the pedestrian routes in and around Poole, the Club worked with other volunteers and schools to carry out a survey of the old alleyways.  The interest generated through this raised questions about how some of this alleys got their names.

Pirates, Castaways & Codfish

The initial idea was to research the names of some of the alleys.  This quickly expanded and with money from the Heritage Lottery Fund, Bournemouth University and Rotary, in 2017/18, the Club was able to explore Poole’s maritime history during one of the town’s more formative periods (1580-1730).

Rather than a dry factual record of  the project’s findings, the Club is keen to leave a varied legacy of interesting activities and information including:

  • The video describing the project itself, and of the splitting of Cod in the Finnish waters in 1910.
  • The photographs and other materials used in our hosted events
  • Our drama videos, bringing to life the times
  • Details of how you can access our stories and drama scripts for your own use


This website makes available key aspects of the research carried in 2017/18.  It also provides a timeline which helps to relate events in Poole’s colourful history to what was happening nationally and internationally. We’d love to add to this repository of knowledge.  If you have information about this period (1580-1730), and in particular details of vessels in use in those times and their masters; links with Newfoundland then, and the development of merchant interests here in Poole, then please get in touch: don_nutt@hotmail.com

Community theatre

Subsequent to the project Don and Katy Nutt, wrote three short plays to bring to life fascinating events in the town’s history from 1623 and 1688 and concerning Woodes Rogers, a famous son, in 1718-1721 in the Bahama Islands. 

Mayhem at the Inn‘ pictures events linked to the arrival of the press gang in Poole. 

Elizabeth Hyde – Poole’s  glorious revolutionary‘ sheds light on Poole’s very own female spy.

Woodes Rogers and the End of the Golden Age of Piracy‘ features the famous Pirates of the Caribbean that he had to deal with when he became Royal Governor of the Bahama Islands, before he could be successful in his new role.

Each of these dramas were performed by the Scaplen’s Court Players in 2019,2021 and 2022. This troupe of local actors formed specifically to bring the plays to life and they intend to bring more to life in future as a part of the local theatre scene.

Mayhem at the Inn – Poole, 1623

Story telling

As well as the short plays, these stories provide insights on everyday life then.  Beth’s story, set in 1590, talks about her first visit to Poole, while Robert’s story from 1621 is about his first experience of sailing to the Newfoundland fishing grounds. Jane’s story tells of her life in Poole in the 1620’s

Family days at Scaplen’s Court

In 2019 and 2021 Poole Bay Rotary hosted on behalf of Poole Museum three family activity days at Scaplen’s Court Museum.  The mix of story telling, pirate boat building, sea shanties, one of the plays and more besides, opened a popular window on Poole’s maritime history.

Talks and exhibition banners

We can provide a speaker for local clubs and societies, offering an illustrated talk on different aspects of Poole’s maritime history.  To discuss/book please contacts Don Nutt – don_nutt@hotmail.com.  we also have a variety of pull-up banners in support of these events.

BookletPoole’s Maritime Heritage 1580-1730: ISBN 978-1-78972-363-2

First published in 2018 this 38 page edition includes the key research findings from the Pirates,Castaways & Codfish project and features the timeline of the period. 

Copies are available from:

  • Poole Museum Book Shop
  • DJ Brooking, Ashley Road, Poole
  • Westbourne Bookshop

or on request, direct from us: don_nutt@hotmail.com

Educational resources

Copies of the stories, scripts of the plays, videos, exhibition banners and the booklet are available to local schools free of charge.  We can also provide a speaker. As well as following up with local schools that have already expressed an interest in the project, we are keen to make contact with other schools and colleges to help make young people more aware of Poole’s amazing maritime history.