Poole is home to Europe's largest natural harbour and second largest in the world and evidence of sea trade can be dated back to the Iron Age. The sea and shipping trade has, and will always, play an important part in the lives of those working, living and visiting Poole.
Poole's trading relationship with Newfoundland can be traced back to at least the 18th Century with the salt-cod trade providing the opportunities for Dorset merchants to bring back their fortunes to Poole. We've been exploring this connection with historical research and creative activities.
Back in 2019, Angel Exit Theatre had the wonderful opportunity to research and develop a potential new show as a collaboration with Theatre Newfoundland, Canada. They visited them in Cow Head in 2019 and as Covid struck, they continued to work together online to devise a show about the migration of merchants fisher folk from the South West to the shores of Newfoundland in the 18th and 19th Centuries.
Angel Exit Theatre produced a short film from April 2021 to show some of the results of the Research & Development which can be found here.
In 2022, local people from the community were invited to attend workshops, both online and in person, to discuss and select various research themes on the topic of Poole's trading relationship with Newfoundland. Some of those findings will be shared here soon!
At the end of April, the Community Play team met with Dorset School of Acting, Extraordinary Bodies Young Artists, Co Create drama group, the Young Writers groups, and the Leisure Painters all of whom meet regularly at Lighthouse. Angel Exit wanted to get their views on living and working in Poole and see how they view their town today. They also did some devising workshops with some of these groups around the Newfoundland connections, as well as holding another devising workshop with professional performers, new graduates and a few students who are still studying at AUB to workshop some more script ideas.
You can meet Angel Exit Theatre at our upcoming Creative Community Engagement Drop-In on 18th June!
Illustrations by Bridie Cheeseman
Our creative partner Arts2Educate has been busy with local schools exploring Poole's maritime heritage and creatively exploring our history of cod trading. School children have just finished writing to a school in Newfoundland in a creative project, which you can view in the Gather Space in the Dolphin Centre from 23rd July!
The Poole and Dorset Herald, 15th December 1921