Poole Lifting Bridges

Information and Guide

The two bridges spanning the Backwater Channel connecting the port facilities, and Hamworthy, with Poole, are operated by Poole Borough Council, though the navigation of the waterway is the responsibility of Poole Harbour Commision.

The MVS Poole Unit regularly provides patrols of the Backwater Channel on behalf of the Harbour Master and operate in close liaison with the Bridge Operator to provide support, assistance, advice and guidance to vessels in the vicinity of the bridges. These duties range between improving communication between the Bridge Operator and craft that have no VHF Radio, providing detailed advice on bridge lift sequences, times and procedures to users, assisting craft in difficulty where possible (our patrol boats are often called upon to tow boats in this area having mechanical failures to a safe berth). Also, those members patrolling complete a daily log of ‘incidents’ for the Harbour Master. Depending on the nature of the incident these may be followed up further by PHC staff, and in some rarer cases formal reports are required that may be used to secure successful prosecutions. Though mainly, we’re there to provide support, assistance and usually a friendly smile and wave!

The Bridge Operator can be contacted on VHF Channel 12 using the call sign “Poole Bridge”

Please Note: All Local Notices To Mariners (LNTM) that are currently in Force for Poole (including Bridge Lift updates) can be found by clicking on the following link: https://www.phc.co.uk/notices.html – this is a web page that is kept updated by PHC.  

From 16th September 2019, Poole old bridge lifting schedule has changed to the Autumn Maintenance Schedule (LNTM 30/19) – further details can be found: https://www.phc.co.uk/downloads/notices_mariners/2019-30-Bridge-Lifting-Times.pdf

Between 5.30 and 14.30 the bridge sequence favours outbound vessels, with the Twin Sails bridge lifting first, followed by the Poole (Old Town) Bridge. The Twin Sails will then lift again, if required, to accomodate inbound vessels. Between 16.30 and 23.30 Poole Bridge opens first and Twin Sails immediately after. This sequence order can be changed at the discretion of the Bridge Operator to take account of marine traffic, tides, weather and other factors. It is advised that vessels be on station for the first lift of the sequence in case the usual order is reversed and to maintain a listening watch on VHF Channel 12

Various Bridge Related Links

Photos on Flickr of Twin Sails construction

Watch Your Wash! – PHC publication about affects of boat wash, particularly in the Backwater Channel, includes details of speed limits relating to ‘speed through the water’ not the more commonly used ‘speed over ground’ by Satellite navigations systems, in other words, if you are travelling at 6 knots, according to your chart plotter, or sat nav, and you are going against a 2 knot current, your actual speed is 8 knots! Also includes mention of a prosecution by PHC resulting in fines/costs of over £5000

Poole Bridges Byelaws – includes definition of vessels that Harbour Traffic Signals apply to, basically any craft from kayak upwards. It is also worth noting that the definition of bridge relates to the entire span of the bridge, not just the centre opening leaves. a ‘level 3’ fine plus costs can be the result of a successful prosecution. CCTV and VHF recording is constant and recordings can be used to secure convictions.