Dolphin Shopping Centre – Wikipedia

Shopping mall in Poole, England

The Dolphin Shopping Centre is a shopping centre in Poole, Dorset, England, formerly known as the Arndale Centre.

The shopping centre adjoins Poole Bus Station.

History and development[edit]

In 1957 discussions began about creating a covered in shopping centre in the heart of Poole town centre, in a similar vein to those popular at the time in America. In 1963 property developers were invited by Poole Corporation to present schemes to develop this shopping centre as part of a redevelopment of the town.[1]

The winning scheme was for a £2 million redevelopment by the Arndale Property Trust on land at High Street, Seldown Lane and Kingland Road[2] known as the Ladies Walking Field.[3] One of the main reasons Arndale won was that their proposal incorporated a fully enclosed shopping centre.[4] The scheme was to be designed by Leslie Jones and Partners in association with Geoffrey Hopkinson; Poole Borough Architect and Chief Planning Officer, the structural engineers were to be Bowden Sillett and Partners and the main contractors were to be Sir Lindsay Parkinson and Company.[4]

The transformation of Poole Town Centre started in June 1966 when work began on a new road layout[2] and construction of the shopping centre commenced in March 1967 when the then Mayor of Poole, Alderman Ron Hart, dug the first turf.[1]

Phase One[edit]

Phase One of the centre was opened at 10:30am on 1 July 1969 by the Mayor of Poole, Alderman Lloyd-Allen[1] and was an American style mall which included 93 retail units, offices, a sports centre, bus terminus[1] and a library. The cost had risen to £3m, but with 200,000 shoppers a week passing through the centre, it was deemed so successful that plans for a second phase were unveiled at the centre’s first birthday party.[2]

A much loved feature of phase one were a series of mahogany animals, designed as ‘play sculptures’ for children. There were four sculptures originally: a hippo, a turtle, a whale and a snake, and they were created by local artist Peter Hand.[5] Hand received the commission for the play sculptures while working in part-time teaching post in the Sculpture Department at a local arts college and they were the first of many commissions for similar shopping centres across the UK.[6]

Phase Two[edit]

Phase Two of the centre started in 1980[7] and the Arndale Centre grew to its final size with the approval of Phase Two B after a Public Inquiry in January 1982. This was topped out in March 1984 in a ceremony involving the Mayor, Cllr Roger Buss and Mr Ron Jennings, the deputy chairman of the development company; Town and City Properties (who by this time had absorbed Arndale Property Trust[8]). A time capsule containing coins, documents and a copy of the Daily Telegraph was buried under the concrete at the highest point of the development.[1]

Dolphin Shopping Centre[edit]

In 1989 an £8 million refurbishment programme was carried out on the centre, which emerged with a new name ; The Dolphin Shopping Centre.[7] The three remaining wooden ‘play sculptures’ (the hippo, the turtle and the whale) were removed in 1997[5] (the snake had been removed some years earlier before being stored in an open area in one of the service areas of the centre and later removed as rubbish).[9]

The centre was acquired in 2003 by Grosvenor Group, who sold it to Dutch property investment company; Wereldhave in December 2010 for £85 million.[2] It was then later sold to Legal & General in 2013 for £58 million.

In 2004, as the centre became increasingly popular, a further multimillion-pound refurbishment programme was completed. The centre entrances were redeveloped, access for shoppers with disabilities was enhanced, and the interior was given a facelift for the first time since 1989.[7]

Poole Sports Centre closed just before Christmas 2007 when operator UK Sports Centres LTD went into liquidation and the space was marketing by agents Sibbett Gregory for disposal.[10]

In May 2008, after an absence of eleven years, the ‘play sculptures’ returned to the centre and were displayed in rotation as part of specially designed enclosure, where they collected funds for local charities. In 2013 it was rumoured that the ‘play sculptures’ could be returned to the centre on a full-time basis, and that children might once again be allowed to play on them.[5]

The Marks & Spencers store, which opened in 1971, will close for the final time on 8 January 2021.[11]

Poole Bus Station[edit]

Poole Bus Station is a municipal building in Poole Town Centre, England.[12][13]

The bus station adjoins the Dolphin Shopping Centre and is opposite the Lighthouse Theatre. Poole Bus Station is the largest bus station in Dorset and is a key travel hub on the South Coast of England.[14] The station is owned partially by Wilts & Dorset, and partially by Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council.[15][16] It is used by National Express.[17]

The bus station is notorious for its lack of tidiness and anti-social behaviour[18][19] and has been identified as a crime hotspot by Dorset Police.[20]


A bus station has been on the site since at least the 1960s.[21][22]

The bus station was redeveloped in 2009[23] with improved lighting and new kerbs,[24] and with the UK’s largest outdoor mural being painted onto the ceiling by Penson Architects. The process cost £300,000 and was supported by the Dolphin Shopping Centre and Poole Borough Council.[25] The mural graphic contains over 500 panels over 1000 square metres.[26] The revamp was officially opened by town mayor Joyce Lavender.[27]

In 2017, the bus station was severely flooded.[28] Also in 2017, a £134 million revamp of Poole Town Centre, including the bus station was unveiled.[29]

In 2018, the bus station was attacked by youths and damage was caused to lights and windows.[30] In 2019, a further redevelopment plan for a new bus station was revealed.[31][32]

In 2020, Yellow Buses stopped using the bus station due to the anti-social behaviour in the area.[33][34] As a result, Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council boarded up the nearby alleyways to discourage crime.[35][36] It is now proposed to permanently close the alleyways.[37]

The travel shop was closed during the first half of 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Further reading[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e [1]
    Poole High Street Project (2012). Poole High Street Project Blog – The Dolphin Centre: The Beginnings. 7 August 2012.
  2. ^ a b c d [2] Daily Echo (2012). Dolphin Centre Facelift: History of the Original Arndale Mall. Daily Echo, 28 January 2012.
  3. ^ [3]
    Poole High Street Project (2012). Poole High Street Project Blog – Life Before The Arndale. 21 March 2012.
  4. ^ a b Building Magazine (1970). Shopping in Comfort. Building, 4 September 1970. pp. 55–60.
  5. ^ a b c [4] Henderson, Diana (2013). Dolphin Centre’s Wooden Animals on Their Way Back to Town’s Shopping Hub After Facebook Campaign. Daily Echo, 21 November 2013.
  6. ^ [5] Archived 3 February 2014 at the Wayback Machine Digswell Arts Trust. Fellowship Alumni – Peter Hand.
  7. ^ a b c “Archived copy”. Archived from the original on 19 December 2013. Retrieved 26 January 2014.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link) Dolphin Shopping Centre. About Us – History.
  8. ^ Scott, Peter (1996). The Property Masters: A History of the British Commercial Property Sector. Taylor and Francis: Abingdon. Page 151.
  9. ^ [6] Astrup, Juliette (2008). Rubbish? Serpently Not! Daily Echo, 5 July 2008.
  10. ^ [7] Astrup, Juliette (2008). Outcry Over Closure Fails to Save Centre. Daily Echo, 22 October 2008.
  11. ^ “Popular Marks and Spencer to close next week”. Dorset Echo. Retrieved 27 December 2021.
  12. ^ “Poole Bus Station (Stop K2) – Live Departures”. Retrieved 19 November 2020.
  13. ^ Smith, Vernon (15 September 2019). Open-Top Buses. Amberley Publishing. ISBN 978-1-4456-9146-6.
  14. ^ “Poole Bus Station | Poole, Devon”. Retrieved 19 November 2020.
  15. ^ “Poole Bus Station”. Poole. Retrieved 19 November 2020.
  16. ^ Lewis, Jason (7 February 2020). “Morebus committed to Poole Bus Station despite anti-social behaviour as rival Yellow Buses quit site”. Bournemouth Echo. Archived from the original on 24 July 2020. Retrieved 22 July 2021.
  17. ^ “Morebus has made changes to the layout of Poole Bus Station (and its buses)”. Bournemouth Echo. Retrieved 19 November 2020.
  18. ^ “Letter to the editor: Why people are frightened at Poole bus station”. Bournemouth Echo. Retrieved 20 November 2020.
  19. ^ “Letter to the editor: Poole bus station is disgusting”. Bournemouth Echo. Retrieved 20 November 2020.
  20. ^ “How police in Poole are cracking down on anti-social behaviour in three hotspot areas”. Bournemouth Echo. Retrieved 20 November 2020.
  21. ^ “Kingland Crescent | Poole History Online”. Retrieved 19 November 2020.
  22. ^ “The West Country Historic Omnibus & Transport Trust”. Retrieved 22 July 2021.
  23. ^ Lomholt, Isabelle (28 May 2009). “Poole Bus Station Building Redevelopment”. e-architect. Retrieved 19 November 2020.
  24. ^ “Bus station revamp to be unveiled”. BBC News. 7 April 2009. Retrieved 8 December 2020.
  25. ^ Contributor, A. J. (29 May 2009). “First look: Penson create UK’s largest mural”. Architects’ Journal. Retrieved 19 November 2020.
  26. ^ “Poole Bus Station”. NES Solutions. Archived from the original on 25 September 2016. Retrieved 19 November 2020.
  27. ^ Durkin, Jim (7 April 2009). “Revamped Poole bus station opened”. Bournemouth Echo. Retrieved 20 November 2020.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  28. ^ “Dolphin Centre reopens after ‘severe flooding’ at Poole bus station”. Bournemouth Echo. 18 September 2017. Archived from the original on 11 November 2020. Retrieved 20 November 2020.
  29. ^ “£134m revamp planned for Poole town centre”. BBC News. 28 November 2017. Retrieved 8 December 2020.
  30. ^ “Youths trash KFC, smash lights, spit and throw missiles at people in Poole bus station”. Bournemouth Echo. Retrieved 20 November 2020.
  31. ^ “This is what Poole’s futuristic new bus station could look like”. Bournemouth Echo. Retrieved 19 November 2020.
  32. ^ “New plans drawn up for replacement bus station as previous designs could have led to more crashes with pedestrians”. Bournemouth Echo. Retrieved 19 November 2020.
  33. ^ “Yellows quit Poole bus station”. Dorset Chamber of Commerce and Industry. 4 February 2020. Retrieved 19 November 2020.
  34. ^ “LOCAL NEWS: “We’re quitting Poole Bus Station” says angry Yellow Buses Chief”. BH Living Magazine. 4 February 2020. Retrieved 19 November 2020.
  35. ^ “Boarding up crime: Police blocking off alleys to tackle Poole Bus Station anti-social behaviour”. Bournemouth Echo. Retrieved 19 November 2020.
  36. ^ “Poole Bus Station: Alleyways closed in attempt to combat crime hotspot”. Bournemouth Echo. Retrieved 20 November 2020.
  37. ^ Lewis, Jason (21 July 2021). “Crime crackdown: Poole Bus Station alleyways could be closed permanently”. Bournemouth Echo. Archived from the original on 21 July 2021. Retrieved 22 July 2021.