History in Structure

Town Beam

A Grade II Listed Building in Poole Town, Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole

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Latitude: 50.7123 / 50°42'44"N

Longitude: -1.9892 / 1°59'21"W

OS Eastings: 400860

OS Northings: 90292

OS Grid: SZ008902

Mapcode National: GBR XQ0.XJ

Mapcode Global: FRA 67Q6.8VT

Plus Code: 9C2WP266+W8

Entry Name: Town Beam

Listing Date: 28 May 1974

Last Amended: 29 July 2022

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1217534

English Heritage Legacy ID: 412633

ID on this website: 101217534

Location: Old Town, Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole, Dorset, BH15

County: Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole

Parish: Non Civil Parish

Built-Up Area: Poole

Traditional County: Dorset

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Dorset

Church of England Parish: Poole St James with St Paul

Church of England Diocese: Salisbury

Tagged with: Architectural structure

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The remains of wool scales. Erected probably before 1822 on the site of an earlier structure; much restored in 1947 and in 2019.


The remains of wool scales. Erected probably before 1822 on the site of an earlier structure; much restored in 1947 and in 2019.

DESCRIPTION: the Town Beam is situated in front of the early-C19 Custom House and to south of the Town Cellars, a former wool house (now part of Poole Museum) of the late C13/early C14. It is a cruciform structure of timber, comprising a square-section shaft topped by a domed cap of brass or copper sheeting and horizontal arms with diagonal braces on either side. The arms support a wrought-iron tie or beam with eye-bolt terminals which would have previously carried the steelyard balance in which the object/s to be weighed was suspended. The woodwork has been renewed but the original fittings are considered to remain.


During the medieval and post-medieval periods wool was one of England’s most important exports, though only certain ports were allowed to export it. From the C13 Poole rapidly grew to be a thriving commercial port, and its significance was recognised when a charter of Henry VI made it a Port of Staple. As such, it became one of the coastal towns licensed to import and export the commodities of the staple, principally wool, wool-felts and leather, and to exact duties on behalf of the crown. The Town Beam stands in front of the Custom House (Grade II*), a building that replaced an earlier custom house which burnt down in 1813. It has been described as medieval (Pevsner, 2018, see Sources), while another source (Smith, 1948) considers that it is C18. It is depicted in its current location in an illustration of around 1822. Nearby is the late-C13/early-C14 former warehouse (Grade I), known as the Woolhouse or Town Cellars (Grade I) that previously stored goods prior to export. The Town Beam was formerly used to publicly weigh and measure goods coming through the port, with merchants paying a beamage, the fee for weighing goods. A plaque attached to it records that it stands on the site of much earlier scales and quotes from the Corporation Records of 1579 which refers to the ‘Towne Beame’. It was restored in 1947 and in 2019 after it was damaged in a storm.

Reasons for Listing

The Town Beam, the remains of wool scales, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

Historic Interest:

* it illustrates well the significance of Poole as a staple port and in the exporting and importing of commodities since the medieval period.

Group value:

* it has strong group value with a number of listed buildings clustered together in the old town of Poole, particularly the Custom House (Grade II*); Harbour Office (Grade II) and the Town Cellars (Grade I), a former woolhouse.

External Links

External links are from the relevant listing authority and, where applicable, Wikidata. Wikidata IDs may be related buildings as well as this specific building. If you want to add or update a link, you will need to do so by editing the Wikidata entry.

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