"The Gateway to Cornwall" Plymouth by seagoingJLW

Plymouth Travel Guide: 321 reviews and 688 photos


Plymouth is a city in the South West of England. It is situated on a hilly peninsula at the mouths of the river Plym and Tamar and at the head of Plymouth Sound, a splendid natural harbor. Plymouth is now one of the few remaining naval dockyards in Britain and the largest naval base in Western Europe.

As the regional capital of Devon and Cornwall, Plymouth is an extra-ordinary blend of vibrant modern city and historic seafaring port.

The ?Hoe,? a limestone bluff, overlooks the Sound. According to legend, Sir Francis Drake was playing bowls there when news came that the Spanish Armada had been sighted. The Royal Citadel, a 17th sentury fortress which dominates the ?Hoe? is still used as a barracks for the Royal Artillery.
Plymouth's history is dominated and influenced by its surrounding geography. The River Tamar and its tributaries, together with the River Plym, dominate the surrounding area and have had a major role to play in the city's development. The Roman invasion had little impact in Devon.

During the Middle Ages Plymouth grew as a port. The towns in the region had a developing trade and as its importance grew more ships used the regions southern ports. During the 15th Century Sutton Harbour was the perfect anchorage for warships and this led to the fortification of the town with a wall built in 1404. In 1577 Sir Francis Drake left aboard the Golden Hind on his epic voyage around the world. He returned three years later as the most famous man in the kingdom.

Some History

In 1403 the town was briefly occupied and burnt by the French. It was also from Plymouth that the Pilgrims sailed in 1620 aboard the Mayflower.

Plymouth was where the defeated Napoleon Bonaparte was brought aboard the HMS Bellerophon before his exile to St. Helena in 1815.

During the civil war Plymouth was fought over many times. Many prominent Royalists attempted to capture the small but important town of Plymouth during 1642-46. Amongst the most noted are: King Charles 1st, Prince Maurice, Sir Ralph Hopton, Sir Richard Grenville, Sir John Berkely and Col. John Bigby. A resolute band of heroes held Plymouth for Parliament in a 40-month almost continual siege. Plymouth stood firm for nearly four years and when the King was defeated they found that they had sided with the eventual victors of the war.

By 1712 there were 318 men employed and by 1733 Plymouth Dock, as the new town was called, had 3000 people.

In 1768 Captain James Cook set out on his voyage to search for a Southern Continent. He sailed from the Barbican. Today the Barbican with its Tudor and Jacobean buildings, such as the Elizabethan House give us an idea of what Plymouth must have been like.
On Cooks next voyage he decided again to leave from Plymouth and in 1772 he set off on his most famous voyage.

History, continued

The city was extensively blitzed during World War II, to the extent that approximately twice the amount of housing stock that existed prior to the war was destroyed during it (as a consequence of rebuilt houses being successively hit). Although the dockyards were the principal targets, civilian casualties were inevitably very high.

Plymouth was also one of the principal staging posts for the Normandy landings in June 1944.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:A very friendly place
  • Cons:Getting ashore can be very rough
  • In a nutshell:We had a good time there.
  • Last visit to Plymouth: Jun 2005
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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