Poole began the period 1580-1730 having overstretched itself financially a few years before. The grant by Elizabeth 1st of a better status for the Town and County of Poole and its port in 1568 led to spending on water supply, a new fish shambles and new town and market halls. This was followed by a fall in trade through the port with the loss of the cloth trade at a time when the rest of the country had already begun to ‘feel the pinch’ some years before.
Poole’s good fortune was its historic natural position and geography. On a naturally dredged channel with deeper water past the town quay; protected from the ocean by its large natural harbour and sheltered by the Swanage and Studland coasts, it developed successfully and progressively across the period.
The town’s shipping interests grew in scope and quantity over the period and a better economic condition was in evidence by the end of the period; growing even better in the subsequent decades. Poole’s built form, while its overall shape and pattern in 1636 maps looks similar in so many respects to that of today, had already begun to change as a result of the economic improvement.
Throughout, the Wool Hall and St James Church buildings remained in the same places, as did many of the streets along the promontory. At the beginning of the period Strand Street (in mediaeval days against the strand at the water’s edge) was in sight of the strand in front of today’s Inns such as the Poole Arms and the alleys of today were shown in maps from 1634 onwards. Most of the movement laterally in the promontory was provided for by the alleys and lanes for people on foot and on horseback or donkey, as opposed to the roads for the horse driven carts giving the necessary access to and from the Quay.