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Situated on the South Devon coast, just over 40 miles from Exeter, Plymouth is Devon's largest city and the second largest city in the South West. With a diverse history from naval port to World War stories there is plenty to discover in the area.
Naval history in Plymouth
HMNB Devonport is located in Plymouth and brings in large groups of Armed Forces personnel on a regular basis. The base was created after King William III was appalled by the lack of naval port bases and gave funding to create the base in the South West city. Originally it was known as Plymouth Dock but later people didn’t like the name and petitioned to King IV to get it changed to Devonport. Later Plymouth Yard was also changed to Devonport Yard by Queen Victoria.
The area has been linked to its naval history right back to 700BC, when Mountbatten was one of the main ports in England. Here it was also used as a base for the war effort against France in the 14th century. However, it wasn’t until 1588, when Sir Francis Drake allegedly played bowls on Plymouth How whilst contemplating the Spanish invasion that the city has really had key ties with the Royal Navy and currently Devonport is the largest naval base in Western Europe.
Plymouth also played a large part in the Napoleonic Wars, helping Nelson and the Duke of Wellington to defeat Napoleon.
Back in the early 20th century, throughout the world Devonport was known as one of the greatest naval ports around. This is when the Great North Yard extension doubled the size of the dock, which was also to blame for the loss of Hallsands, a small fishing village in the South Hams which was destroyed in 1917 by the sea.
Plymouth played a huge part in both world wars, losing many ships and lives throughout the years. During the Plymouth Blitz, the dock and the city suffered devastating damage, which can still be seen today with many historical ruins throughout the city.
Today Devonport employs 2,500 service personnel and civilians across its 650-acre site.
Things to do in Plymouth
With so much to see and do in Plymouth, you won’t need to go anywhere else during your stay. If you do decide to head out you won’t be spoilt for choice with the South Devon coastline and by having the Tamar bridge linking you to Cornwall your days out can stretch as far as you feel like travelling.
In Plymouth itself, you have a city full of retail therapy to explore. Shops range from the quirky to the designer stores, all scattered across the city centre leading up to Drake Circus the large shopping centre full of larger modern chain stores.
For a family day out Plymouth is home to the National Marine Aquarium, perfect for children and adults of all ages. Explore the deep underwater fish of the tropics or spend time learning what is lurking in the Plymouth Sound. For the adults, take a tour of the Blackfriars Gin Distillery, the home of the famous Plymouth Gin.
Take a walk along the cobbled quayside in the Barbican area and visit the Smeaton’s Tower lighthouse on the Hoe.
For some evening entertainment, book a theatre ticket at Theatre Royal or head over to the Plymouth Pavilions for a varied events calendar.