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Plymouth - Devon

Postal Town: Plymouth (PL1)

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Plymouth is a fine and proud nautical city, playing host to many world-famous sailors and millions of visitors.


©Jim Lucas

Plymouth, history and present-day details

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At the mouth of the river Plym once stood a farm known as Sudtone, meaning South Farm. The Plym was so named by the Saxons, meaning plum tree. Sudtone was listed in the Domesday Book (1086) and later became known as Sutton, giving rise to Sutton Harbour, which was at the heart of old Plymouth. Trading soon flourished out of the harbour from 1211, perhaps beforehand.

Plymouth was recognised as a town in 1254 and continues to prosper. In the 1500s Plymouth was an important transatlantic port, trading from the Baltics and Northern Europe.

Sir Francis Drake, aside from being the first Englishman to sail the Pacific, is said to have played bowls at Plymouth Hoe while the Spanish Armada sailed the English Channel. He of course defeated the Spanish in 1588.

In 1620 the Pilgrims sailed west from Plymouth in the hope of finding new land, having been banished from England due to their purist beliefs. Plymouth, New England is what they found and developed.

In 1690 the first development of the Royal Dockyards was opened on the banks of the river Tamar, west of Plymouth. Further development saw the opening of new docks into the 1700s. Napoleonic prisoners of war provided much of the labour. Today, Royal William Yard and some other areas of the southern Dockyard development has been handed back to the people of Plymouth. The land is being used for re-development and affordable homes.

During the 1800s Plymouth boundaries now included the villages of Compton, St Budeaux. Dockyard workers and naval families needed homes and this led to the development of Devonport and Stonehouse. Later came Morice Town, which is not well defined today.

Being a nautical city, Plymouth has been a landmark starting port for many well-known sailors: James Cook, Charles Darwin and Francis Chichester are amongst the many who have endured intrepid adventures at sea.

During the Second World War, Plymouth and its people suffered greatly from the blitz and many parts of what had only just been declared City status in 1928, was raised to the ground. The three suburbs, Devonport, Stonehouse and old Plymouth were re-built in the 1950s. Today, Charles Church, ‘the bombed church’ as it is known locally, built in 1664, is a reminder of these sad times, which will hopefully never return.

During the 1960s the boundaries of Plymouth grew to include Plymstock and Plymton. Today, Plymouth is a thriving, busy city, providing a strong economy for south west England and a wonderful city to visit. The oldest parts of the city, the Barbican, are particularly worth a stroll around. Many of the streets and buildings date back to the 16th century. There is also a monument to the Pilgrims, the Mayflower Steps, from where the Mayflower set sail on its voyage of discovery.


©Jim Lucas



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