On arrival in the town we were following car park signs but managed to park on the road which was fortunate. Leaving the car, we walked past the Town Hall and popped into the Town Museum for a little look. Admission is free and its small galleries depict the town’s history and display historic artefacts.
Continuing, we strolled along the two main shopping streets leading from the Town Hall. The majority of the shop doorways were bedecked with brightly coloured petunias and we found a good selection of small, independent shops which is always nice to see. Even though our visit was not on market day (that takes place each Thursday) the small town centre was bustling with activity and there were no signs of decline or empty shops as can be seen in many of the country’s high streets.
We passed the Rex cinema which was built in 1889 and has been a cinema since 1920. It was originally known as the Empire and is thought to be the oldest continually operated independent cinema in the UK. It seats 150 and on the back row it has double seats for couples! The cinema is now run by the Purbeck Film Charitable Trust volunteers. I tried to take a photo of the exterior as it looks more like a church than a cinema, but there was a large van parked directly outside obstructing the view. Our walk then led us down to the River Frome and Wareham Quay.
This was once the hub of the town, it’s hard to believe now but ships arrived here from the continent and unloaded their cargoes for distribution throughout the county. On our visit we found the quay to be buzzing with activity. Two tour boats were moored on the jetty, taking advantage of the high tide and tourists had just disembarked from a river trip from nearby Poole looking forward to spending a few hours here in Wareham.
At the other side of the bridge at Abbots Quay we spotted numerous people taking a row or a more leisurely ride in a motor boat. The town actually sits on two rivers, these photos are of the river Frome but on the north side of town you will find the amusingly named River Piddle. We took a short walk along the River Frome which passes a pleasant picnic area with outdoor tables and further along we read some helpful information boards describing the local flora and fauna and points of interest along the route.
By this time, we were ready for a drink and what a choice we had – the town boasts several pubs and each one of them looked inviting with their quaint old buildings made from local Purbeck stone and window boxes brimming with brightly coloured summer flowers. After some deliberation, we decided to have a small snack and a drink at the Old Granary as it had a terrace overlooking the river where we sat watching people rowing and many others feeding ducks.
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