History of the Parish

A History of the Parish

The “Cliffs of Canford” were originally part of Lord Wimborne’s Canford Estate. Between 1880 and 1890, the area was sold to a syndicate which set up the Canford Cliffs Estate Company. Houses were to be built in Haven Road to form the central feature of a village with plots developed on either side. By the early 1930s, over half the plots had been developed and a village hall built. The various open spaces: the chines, cliffs, and pleasure gardens were handed over to the local authority. During the 1920s and ’30s, there were regular falls of cliff every Winter. The construction of the promenade and repair of the cliffs helped to prevent further decay. With the lifting of post war building restrictions in the early 1950s, plots were divided, larger houses redeveloped and new blocks of flats introduced. The present Canford Cliffs Society continues to protect the original covenants designed to prevent the development of business or industry within the area. Despite this, land is constantly being sought for development; and in recent years many residential properties have been bought only to be replaced by blocks of flats. The relative shallowness of the harbour waters makes it a natural place for watersports; and it is now regarded as one of the best places in the country for sail boarding.

Sandbanks is a natural peninsula forming a finger of land jutting out to sea at the entrance to Poole Harbour. It is said that in the late 18th century it was cut off by Spring tides and ever since there has been the risk of it becoming a second Brownsea Island. At the beginning of the century, the area consisted entirely of sand dunes apart from two coastguard cottages built in 1850 and a few wooden holiday homes maintained by the more adventurous. Sandbanks was part of the Wimborne Estate and during the 1930s, the first plots were sold off and some permanent homes were built. In post war times, the building of luxury residences with their own waterfront and slipway has escalated with the final infilling of smaller houses, bungalows and blocks of flats. Less than half the dwellings are used throughout the year as permanent homes, the rest being used as holiday flats and second homes. In 1929, the whole of the beach and present recreation ground consisting of 13 acres were purchased from the Estate for the sum of £13. For many years a pier with tea rooms was maintained to the right of the ferry but was blown up in the invasion scare of the 1940’s. Marconi undertook many of his early experiments at Sandbanks, and is commemorated by a plaque at the Haven Hotel.

The ferry across the Harbour mouth to the Purbeck Hills – built in 1926 and replaced in 1957 and again in recent years – imposes a constant flow of traffic through the area which creates long queues and congestion in the Summer when the weather is good. Two large hotels, the Sandbanks and the Haven, bring a steady flow of visitors and extensive parking allows for a vast influx of day visitors in sunny weather.