THOUSANDS flocked to Poole on Saturday in honour of the town’s most notorious pirate.
Dressed in their finest pirate-wear, with eye-patches, bandanas and cut-lasses, residents and visitors gathered on the quay for Harry Paye Day.
Organised by the Pirates of Poole and supported by Poole Tourism, the event, which raises money for Diverse Abilities Plus and Poole Hospital, attracted around 10,000 people.
At noon a procession of pirates, belly dancers and majorettes made their way along the Quay, led by the town mayor Cllr Peter Adams.
Brandishing his shiny sword, five-year-old pirate Oliver Ellis said he was having a great time.
His father Mark Ellis added: “He loves it. I brought him last year and it’s all he’s been on about all week.”
Jim Hilton, who has brought his daughter Scarlett to the event for the past three years, said it was a great day for the whole family.
“It’s nice to dress up,” he added. “Everyone loves to dress up for Harry Paye Day.”
Raphael Pim, from the Wimborne Militia, which fired guns along the quay throughout the day, said the sunshine had made this year’s celebrations more popular than ever.
He added: “We’ve been doing this for six or seven years now. I love it. It’s pretty jovial and everyone’s happy.”
Gary Christopher, of Pirates of Poole, said Paye earned his notoriety after seizing 30,000 gallons of wine from French and Spanish ships during the 15th century.
“Harry Paye sailed across the channel and stole a gold cross from a church in France,” he explained.
“To get their own back, they came here and burned Poole to the ground and killed his brother.”
Seeking his revenge, Harry Paye, who had been away with the British fleet at the time of the attack, seized over 100 French and Spanish vessels in the channel, Mr Christopher said.
He added: “He brought back 30,000 gallons of red wine and that’s where Harry Paye Day came from.”