Sheltered to the South by the Purbeck Hills, Poole was a supply port in Roman times. By the 12th Century it was one of the largest and most prosperous of the south coast ports.
In the 17th Century there were strong links with the Newfoundland cod trade. The opening of Poole's first railway line in 1847 and the advent of larger draught vessels caused the port to go into decline in the mid 1850's. At that time the Port was in the private hands of rich merchants and the Corporation of Poole Town and little had been invested in new quays and dredging.
An Act of Parliament in 1895 gave responsibility to the Poole Harbour Commissioners (PHC) to conserve, regulate and improve the Port and Harbour. At that time, the port's main business was carried out on what is today known as Poole Town Quay.