Lilliput naturally reminds the visitor of Gulliver and his travels, and over the years there have been the odd, old characters sitting in the bar of the Beehive Hotel, who, probably repaying a friendly pint offered by a tourist, would tell how Dean Swift came to Dorset to write his famous novel Gulliver's Travels. I am assured that this is not the truth, and there is no record of Dean Swift visiting these parts.
Originally, Lilliput was called The Saltings, after the trade that was carried on there, but the new name is much more likely to commemorate that legendary smuggler, Isaac Gulliver, whose name seems to pop up all over Dorset, and not only on the coast.
It might be thought that an elegant residential area would not have taken its name from an apparently disreputable character, but we do know that he owned Flag Farm in the district, and it must be taken into account that having made his fortune from smuggling, Gulliver became a respected citizen, gentleman, and banker, and is buried in Wimborne.
Anyway, Lilliput was not always the lovely residential area we now know, and the Saltings were worked until 1820. Some people will tell you that the Beehive Hotel was originally a pub built to slake the thirst of the salt workers, but the hotel was not built until a later date and was more likely there for the convenience of those who worked in the brickworks and pottery nearby, on the Parkstone boundary.
If Lilliput cannot boast of a link with the little people of Swift's famous story, it did have its own woman 'Robinson Crusoe'. This mystery lady lived in the heart of the Lilliput Woods, in a simple thatched hut. It seems that she hated people, but lived content with the affection of her little group of creatures, which ranged from rabbits and cats to a pink cockatoo.
Miss Mackenzie had a pony and bath chair style trap, and made a small living by taking old ladies for rides in it. The Scottish lady had a mysterious power over animals, but her seclusion was eventually spoiled when a London national newspaper headlined a story about her as 'Mystery Woman of Lilliput Woods', in the early 1930s.
Residential Lilliput is in the heart of Poole's great yachting community. The exclusive and expensive Poole Harbour Yacht Club Marina has been rebuilt in the premises of a former pre-war residential club which existed on the shore of the lagoon, and on its moorings in the marina harbour is a mixture of sleek racing cruisers and expensive powered express cruisers. The marina is approached via Lilliput's own exclusive little shopping centre.
Lilliput can also claim to be the home of the youngest and oldest sailing clubs in the vast harbour.
Near the Blue Lagoon, another former private club, now the base of a powerboat agency, is the Lilliput Sailing Club, only a quarter of a century old. The club tie sports a small burgee with the letter L, plainly inscribed on it which causes members of older clubs in the harbour to refer to it as the Learners Club.
At the other extreme of the Lilliput shore, is the little East Dorset Sailing Club, the oldest in the harbour. The club house is on the foreshore at the bottom of that popular viewpoint, Evening Hill, and opposite what was once Flag Farm Estate.
The club celebrated its centenary in 1975 and has always remained small and exclusive. Yet in 1933, the E.D.S.C. struck an early blow for sexual equality, by electing a woman as Commodore. Mrs. E. Sherston ruled for three years, a situation unheard of in yachting circles in those days and not all that common today.
Records of the club's early days make interesting and amusing reading. At a meeting in 1898, the committee decided to employ a pier man to took after the club pier and man the club tender. They agreed to spend eleven shillings and sixpence on his jersey and one shilling and eight pence for an inscription, together with two shillings and sixpence for his cap. High expenditure, considering they were only going to pay him fifteen shillings a week in wages.
The meeting also decided to 'make representation to the Bournemouth Steamboat Company as to the inconvenient and dangerous speed at which their paddle steamers proceed up and down the harbour'.
That complaint has been continued for nearly a century, but today the E.D.S.C. and other harbour clubs complain of damage to craft and moorings by speeding Cross Channel Ferry boats.