"Devon's Proletarian City" Top 5 Page for this destination Plymouth by johngayton
Plymouth Travel Guide: 311 reviews and 677 photos
For the last 20-odd years Plymouth has been a place where I've variously changed trains, arrived by train and then gotten a bus to to places slightly further afield and sometimes had occasions where I've had to cool my heels for an odd day or two when my itinerant working life has had minor hiccups.
This is a city that I always enjoy - I even like the Brutalist concrete architecure of the post-WWII city centre - and every visit reveals something new.
Plymouth is Devon's largest city with a population of about a quarter of a million and is tucked in the county's south-western corner nestling against the border with Cornwall. Plymouth's development as a city is due to its location on its eponymous Sound, between the mouths of the rivers Plym and Tamar, which is one of Europe's largest natural harbours. Thus the city has a long maritime history and has been a naval dockyard for about 500 years.
It was from Plymouth that The Pilgrim Fathers sailed for America in 1620 and where Sir Francis Drake reputedly finished his game of bowls before sailing to defeat The Spanish Armada in 1588. Because of its importance as a naval dockyard it was targetted by The Luftwaffe during World War 2 and the city centre all but levelled during the 1941 blitz.
The modern Plymouth has therefore evolved from very much a "tabula rasa", beginning with the visionary 1943 "Plan For Plymouth" drawn up by the civic designer Sir Patrick Abercrombie and the city engineer James Paton Watson. The centre was rebuilt over a 20-year period and was designed specifically to be as pedestrianised as possible with the main boulevard of Armada Way, which runs straight through the centre from the railway station to The Hoe, being completely traffic-free. Whilst the concrete reconstruction is often derided as being stark and soul-less, this, to my mind, isn't a justified criticism in that the city is now a pleasant, relaxed, energetic space which is safe and accessible and above all functional.
Of course there is more to Plymouth than just its shopping centre. The Barbican area down by the old Sutton Harbour (from where The Pilgrim Fathers sailed) is a largely untouched "village within a city" retaining many original Elizabethan and Jacobean buildings on its cobbled streets and is now up-and-coming as the city's restaurant and nightlife district and of course has LOTS of Pubs!!
Plymouth, as a people's city, is, and always has been (its inhabitants sided with the Parliamentarians during The Civil War) very much a proletarian city with friendly down-to-earth locals but is also very much a cultured city with a strong theatre tradition, a great music scene, art galleries and museums and its university is now the 4th largest in Britain.
- Pros:Great Pubs!
- Cons:Can be a bit busy on weekend evenings.
- In a nutshell:Definitely a city without airs and graces!
Plymouth railway station is located on North Road, about 10 minutes walk to the city centre and about 20 minutes to the... more travel advice
This is a place I did some work for a few years ago, during which they put me up in one of the hotel rooms. Checking the... more travel advice
johngayton's Related Pages
Plymouth Travel Guide
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- "Devon's Proletarian City"
- "Historical Plymouth"
- "A Unique Maritime City!"
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- "A Seafaring City"
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