As we carry on with our popular spotlight series, this month we head to the historic city of Plymouth. Boasting home to the largest operational naval base in Western Europe, Plymouth is steeped in history with its roots going back to the Bronze age.
Plymouth as a settlement can be traced back to the Bronze age with artefacts from that era being found at Mount Batten, a 24m outcrop of rock on a 600m peninsula in what is now Plymouth Sound. Evidence suggests that Plymouth was a trading port in pre-roman Britain which dominated trade with what is now northwest France between the Seine and the Loire. In the late 1400’s Plymouth became fortified with the building of Plymouth Castle, which is now featured on Plymouth’s coat of arms. Then in 1588, perhaps one of the most famous events in British history happened with the defeat of the Spanish Armada, which was masterminded and overseen by Sir Francis Drake in Plymouth. In 1620 another famous event occurred with the sailing of the pilgrim fathers to the New World and setting up the second English Colony in what is now the USA. James Cook sailed from Plymouth as did Charles Darwin. In 1690 the first Royal dockyard opened and by 1793 the town contained a huge naval complex which was instrumental in the Napoleonic war. During the English civil war, Plymouth sided with the Parliamentarians and it was on the back of this, when the Royal Citadel was built that the citadel contained canon which pointed out to sea and into the town as a pointed reminder of the “rebellion” against the crown.
In 1914 the 3 local towns of Devonport, Stonehouse and Plymouth were merged under one authority and in 1928 Plymouth was granted city status.
The city has grown around the sea and its economy thrives on the back of HMNB Devonport, which is only one of 3 operating naval bases in the UK and is the largest naval base in Western Europe. The base is home to the 42 Commando of the Royal Marines. The city also has ferry links to Brittany in France and Spain.
Plymouth is easily accessible via the M5 and A38 and driving time from London is around 4 hours and if you are coming from Cardiff, on a good day, it should take around 2.5 hours.
Plymouth central train station is well served from most parts of the country with direct services from London Paddington and Cardiff Central.
As far as air travel is concerned, Plymouth does not have its own airport, but is well served by Bristol airport which flies to over 100 destinations across Europe and can be reached in around 2 hours. Exeter airport flies to around 11 European destinations such as France, Portugal, Spain and the Greek islands and can be reached by car in around 1 hour. Finally there is Cornwall Airport Newquay, which can be reached in about an hour and from which you can fly to places such as Dusseldorf, Zurich and Alicante.
Things to do in Plymouth
As you’d expect from an historical naval city, Plymouth is not short of things to do. No trip is complete until you have been to the Royal Citadel where you can be taken on a tour (booking required) and experience its history from the 17th Century. As an operational military base, this adds to the drama and excitement.
If you’re after some free culture then a trip to the Box, is the thing for you. One of Plymouth’s newest museums you will discover everything from Woolly Mammoths to famous adventurers and how they shaped the world to the fascinating history of the port of Plymouth.
Just 10 miles from the city centre lies Dartmoor Zoo, which is home to Lions, Tigers, Jaguars and the ever popular Meerkats to name but a few.
As you’d perhaps expect of a coastal City, Plymouth has an amazing aquarium and the one in Plymouth is the largest in the UK, so really not to be missed.
If you are after something a little more laid back, why not book some tickets to see a show at the Theatre Royal. The theatre caters for everything from comedy to serious drama.
Shopping in Plymouth
For that everything under one roof experience, head out to Drake Circus which is home to over 70 major high street stores, restaurants and even a cinema. Located centrally in the city it is very easy to get to and will certainly help make a dent in your credit card.
For something a little less mainstream why not take a visit to Plymouth Market and West end? Home to over 150 market stalls and many smaller independent stores, this really is the place for that unique something that you didn’t even know you needed.
If you are out and about exploring and happen to mooch on over to the seafront, take a trip to the Barbican and Sutton Harbour, home to the aquarium but also a plethora of restaurants and unique independent shops.
Eating and Drinking
The oldest serving pub in Plymouth is the Minerva Inn on Looe St which has a history going back to 1540. One standout feature is the wooden frame of the building, much of which comes from the original Spanish Armada fleet. With live music and real ales, this really is entertainment and history all in one.
Another great option for food and drink is the Treasury, located on Catherine Street. The building dates back to 1615 and in the late 1800’s the building was home to the police central station and just before the second world war the Plymouth City Treasury moved in, hence the name. In the early 1990’s the building became a bar and restaurant and now serves a large selection of food and drink, including a huge range of gins.
For a fine dining experience, the Michelin guide mentions that a trip to the Barbican Kitchen is worth your while, situated in the Plymouth gin distillery not only will you get some delightful food in an informal setting but also get to sample some home distilled gin.
If Plymouth appeals as a place to live you can expect to pay on average £262,000 for a property. This ranges from around £114,500 for a 1 bedroomed property to £289,700 for a three bedroomed place and up to £569,250 for a 5 bedroomed family home.
If you are looking to rent a home in Plymouth, on average you would expect to pay around £725 pcm for a one bedroom place to £1,113 for a 3 bedroomed property. Many of the larger properties in Plymouth are reserved for student accommodation as Plymouth has a thriving university community but a 5 bedroomed family home would typically command around £2,000 pcm
If our spotlight on Plymouth has made you curious about a possible move to the area, why not speak with one of our local property experts, please follow this link to find contact details for our Plymouth office where our professional and dedicated team will be happy to help. You can see our current Plymouth listings by clicking this link.