Work in progress - High Vis and Hard Hats required

19 December 2023

Nine Months to Clear Poole Museum,

Tour of Poole Museum, Monday 6th November 2023


Phase Two of the Museum’s ambitious improvement plans entailed carefully and painstakingly cataloguing, packing, transporting and temporarily storing its contents. It took staff and volunteers nearly nine months. Good going.

Now for significant re-modelling, renovation and upgrading can commence, undertaken by Greendale Construction, much has taken place in only a couple of months. And what a change! So much more space, has been opened up, for new exhibitions and far-thinking new facilities.

Tim Jackson, Greendale’s Assistant Site Manager, led the Our Museum Journey team on a tour of the Museum buildings, outlining prep work completed and major works soon to start. Gavin recorded the conversation and Lorenda, Poole Museum’s Volunteering Manager, provided additional information.


Wool Hall

It had not been safe to include the Wool Hall in the tour. However, it’s mezzanine floor had already been demolished, its lift removed, and the Hall’s flooring removed in preparation for it to be raised to its original level. A newly purchased time-lapse camera would capture the major restoration works. Stonemason would be working for some months to come on repair and reconditioning of these ancient walls.

Wool Hall looking towards entrance from Oakley Mill October 2023. Poole Museum Dorset

Oakley’s Mill


Exposing the original timber floors and removing most partition walls, had been the first task on each floor, Tim explained. The timbers planks would be levelled, and wood ply floor panels added as the new base for the final finish.

In the process, wooden planks covering the original open shaft within the working grain mill, had been uncovered.

Tim outlined the process and timescales for demolishing the existing Museum lift shaft, enlarging the shaft and then installing a larger accessibility lift.

Our tour started at the top of the building:

Fifth Floor:  New windows had been fitted in Phase One (Salix works), improving the natural light and views from the space. The tour began to the accompaniment of workmen fitting new floor panels with electric screwdrivers.

Previously the Poole Museum Society held its public talks on this floor. Lorenda explained that upon opening it would become a new learning area and would also host other groups and activities for all ages.

Except for repositioning the toilet, freeing up space for the larger lift, few changes were scheduled here, Tim said.

Fourth Floor: This previously the museum office space this is set to become ‘a white box’ gallery, where exhibitions will be held. A small part of this floor will also be a new plant room which will house sophisticated monitoring equipment, Tim said, regulating humidity and air-conditioning in the Wool Hall and elsewhere, a much-needed new facility.

Third Floor: The temporary site office was located here, replete with detailed plans of the redevelopment programme. This will be the Ceramics Gallery with access to our Creative Zone (in the place of the café to be relocated to Scaplen’s Court).

5th Floor site visit by staff November 2023. Oakley Mill, Poole Museum Dorset

First Floor:  A small staff office space and a staff kitchenette would be housed here. With the rest of this floor being gallery space.

Ground Floor: The area leading from the foyer to the Wool Hall was so much broader now, following the removal of the large Poole log boat display and (opposite) of the dividing walls that hid offices and storage space.

In the foyer, the Museum shop’s counter and bookshelves had also gone, freeing additional space there too. Tim added He that walls marked with large yellow X,s were awaiting demolition, further expanding the floor space.

Tim pointed out where a new load-bearing steel beam would be inserted. “This location supports the weight of all the floors above”, he said. “So… a big job. Yes, a big job!”

Ground Floor entrance to be widened into Harbour Life Gallery, Poole Museum Dorset

Scaplen’s Court: Greendale Constriction Ltd have been busy here too. As Grade-1 listed building greater care will be taken with the renovation.

Stone flooring had been lifted throughout most of the ground floor to enable new utilities to be installed and the stone flooring would then be re-laid. As in Oakley’s Mill, modern partitions had been removed, creating more space for exciting changes of use.

Tim pointed to two areas where archaeologists would make exploratory digs. 

Outlined, were the far-sighted plans to create a much larger Museum café, spanning three adjoining ground floor rooms, new accessibility facilities, and much-enhanced catering facilities, all designed to make Scaplen’s Court more attractive for socialising and private functions.



Scaplen's Court entrance way flooring 31.10.23 Poole Museum Dorset

Tim said that early in the new year the bay windows (installed in 1986), would be demolished and new double-doors added, following the original building line. They would open into the front room of the new café. In its rear room, the preserved wattle and daub walling would be retained, enclosed by protective barriers. Access to the garden would also be possible from the café rooms.

Wattle and daube wall Scaplen's Court, Poole Museum, Dorset

In the courtyard, the existing stairs and railings would soon be removed, and a new accessibility lift installed. If the time-lapse photography was finished in the Wool Hall, the camera would be redeployed to capture the installation.

Other rooms at Scaplen’s Court would be renovated and with the new lift stopping at both floor levels, all visitors would be able to enjoy the whole of the building for the first time.


© Kit, Poole Museum Volunteer.

View from front entrance to courtyard Scaplen's Court, Poole Museum, Dorset