THE community of Canford Heath will be celebrating its 50th anniversary on Saturday.

One of the largest housing estates in Europe, made up of private and housing association properties for young families and the elderly, Canford Heath has rapidly grown since the first house was built in 1963.

For many years gypsies had Lady Wimborne’s permission to live on the heath until Poole council bought some of the land in 1954 and sold it to developers with the proviso that the housing plots would have restricted prices for private sale to resolve the problem of a shortage of housing in the borough.

In November 1963 the housing and local government Minister Dame Evelyn Sharp opened the show house to mark the completion of stage one of the new estate in South Canford Heath built by Ruddock and Meighan.

“Every dwelling has central heating and fully fitted kitchens using hardwood and other luxury features on doors and cupboards,” reported the Echo.

The first stage of the development of 59 houses and 68 bungalows was built by the end of 1964. The Corporation offered an area of the second stage to the Hanover Housing Association, granting a 100 per cent mortgage to those on the waiting list wishing to buy a house.

Bournemouth Echo:

Mayor and Mayoress of Poole Cllr and Mrs George Drudge officially opening Carlton Homes showhouse in 1966

In 1970 five stages had been sold and 350 houses completed. The last stage was split between Woodrow Homes and Carlton Homes.

The roads were named after distinguished World War Two aviation figures, such as Bader, Gibson, Scarf, Mitchell and Kellaway.

Adastral Road got its name from the Royal Flying Corps London headquarters Ad Astra with the addition of L of the capital put at the end. Ad Astra is the RFC motto ‘to the stars’.

By 1971 the new estate had a Waitrose supermarket and 12 other shops, a church with the Rev Christopher Mellor as minster, a pub run by licensee John Williams, medical and dental facilities, and William Ballard was headmaster of the new Canford heath Middle School.

The Fighter Pilot pub situated not far from the church was opened in 1970 by the Battle of Britain fighter pilot Group Captain Douglas Bader, VC, who was a teetotaller.

Bricks and mortar make buildings but Canford Heath owes its success to its residents. There was already a sense of community spirit in the early 1970s.

“Ordinary people want a place to call ‘home’ and make a go of life, make friends and put down roots,” commented the Echo in 1971.

“One of the success stories of the estate was the happy relationship between young folk and senior citizens”.

Bournemouth Echo:

The second phase of the housing development began in the early 1980s, although Hasler Road had begun to be built in 1976. Ryall Road area was the last of the development, not completed until the mid 1990s.

As the estate grew in the 1980s additional facilities were needed for the rapidly expanding population such as schools, medical care, more shops and new roads to accommodate the traffic.

Bournemouth Echo:

In September 1980 these mums on Canford Heath set up a scheme to help each other with babysitting

In 1983 the Duchess of Gloucester opened Ad Astra First School and six years later Ashdown Secondary School, an amalgamation of Seldown Boys and Ashley Cross Girls schools, was built opposite.

An environmentally friendly Haymoor Middle School with its own nature reserve and energy saving features was opened by TV botanist Dr David Bellamy in 1993.

Bournemouth Echo:

The 1980s saw another supermarket and doctor’s surgery, Haymoor pub and St Paul’s Church being built, as well as a sports centre and a Jehovah Witness Kingdom Hall.

In 1988 Canford Heath, one of the largest heathlands in Dorset, was given SSSI status which protected the heathland, a habitat for rare species such as the sand lizard, from any further development.

Bournemouth Echo:

Residents helped maintain the heath by ‘pine pulling’ and litter collecting.

In 2008 planning permission was given for homes to be built on a former landfilled site not in the SSSI area. It is currently being built and will be known as Cornelia Gardens.

As the estate has grown so has the community. There are numerous organisations within the community, connected to the church, schools, library and sports centre. It even has two dance schools.

Bournemouth Echo:

Jan Mizen, who has lived on the heath since 1973, has run Poole Majorettes and then Janson Modern Stage School for many years.

The main event organised by the community, Poole Well-being Collaborative and the Coffee House on Saturday there is a fair at Haymoor School which will be opened by the mayor of Poole, Cllr Ann Stribley, following on from a memory walk from St Paul’s Church around the roads of Canford Heath in aid of the Alzheimer’s Society and the opening of a special community garden.

Canford Heath Library also has an exhibition of old photographs from Poole Museums and there will be artwork from the schools displayed around the heath.