Plymouth Harbour

Plymouth Harbour

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Although Exeter is the county town of Devon, Plymouth is by far its largest city. In the Middle Ages it was only the port for Plympton and later there were three towns, Sutton, Devonport and Stonehouse, which eventually merged as Plymouth.
It lies on the coast, historically between the rivers Plym and Tamar. the latter forming the barrier between Devon and Cornwall for all the southern stretch.




Two occasions in Plymouth's history are of considerable note. In 1588, a date known to every Plymouth schoolboy, Sir Francis Drake was playing bowls on the Hoe when Spain's 'invincible armada' was sighted. It was said that he insisted there was time to finish the game and then beat the Spanish. What is certain is that the Armada was defeated.
The second was caused by an accident. The Pilgrim Fathers left from Portsmouth for America but, because one of their boats was damaged in a storm, they had to put into Plymouth. Hence this was their last sight of England.
In the 2nd world war, Plymouth suffered extensive bombing because of the major naval presence in the Tamar. In 1945 it was one of the first cities to get into a huge rebuilding programme. As a result other cities, such as Coventry were able to learn from Plymouth's mistakes.



Sights and Activities

  • Plymouth Hoe - the Tinside outdoor swimming pool has been restored and is now very much in use. Higher on te Hoe is Smeaton's Tower, the top half of a past lighthouse on the Edystone Rocks. On a really clear day the other half, together with its successor can be seen 14 miles out to sea.
  • The Barbican, the old fishing port, where you can see the Mayflower Steps.
  • St Andrew's Church, the mother church of Plymouth. When it was bombed into a ruin a single word was posted next morning - resurgam (latin - I shall rise again - and it did).
  • The Guildhall
  • The Elizabethan House in New Street (!) near the Barbican.
  • The National Marine Aquarium - closely related to the University and important for maritime research.
  • The Citadel that was built after the civil war, supposedly as protection from the sea. Count the number of gun portals facing the sea and the number facing the city and take a guess which side Plymouth had favoured in the civil war!
  • Cremyll Ferry - a passenger ferry making a strikingly beautiful trip across the Tamar
  • Saltram House - a National Trust property on the far side of the Plym from the centre.
  • Brunel Bridge carries the railway across the river Tamar into Cornwall.




Its coastal position means it gets enough rain but only about half the amount of Pricetown on Dartmoor, just around 30 kilometres away. Temperatures are milder in winter and cooler in summer compared to much of England.



Getting There

By Train

Main lines from London and Bristol.

By Boat



The Torpoint chain ferry across the Tamar is still running - this was the main road into Cornwall prior to the building of the Tamar road bridge to Saltash.



Getting Around

By Foot

This is by far the best way of seeing the Hoe and the Babican.





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Keep Connected


Internet caf├ęs can be found in many cities and towns. All UK public libraries provide access, often branded as "People's Network", usually at no or little charge, though there is usually a time limit. Some hotels/hostels also offer internet access, including wifi, but most times at a cost. Using the internet on your personal phone can become expensive very quickly, with carriers charging 100's of times the local rate for data. To avoid these expensive roaming charges, you can hunt for wifi at a local cafe or hotel, or rent a mobile hotspot via several providers including DATAPiXY, and XCOM Global.


See also: International Telephone Calls

The country calling code to the United Kingdom is: 44. To make an international call from the United Kingdom, the code is: 00

In case of emergency, call 999 or 112 from any phone. Such calls are free and will be answered by an emergency services operator who will ask you for your location, and the service(s) you need (police, fire, ambulance, coastguard or mountain rescue). You can call this number from any mobile telephone as well, even if you do not have roaming.

Although the number is declining, you can still find payphones in many public areas, especially stations, airports etc. You can usually pay with cash and sometimes by creditcard or, for international calls, special phonecards are still available.

Mobile phones are heavily used. The main networks are T-Mobile, Vodafone, Orange and O2. 3G data services are available, usually priced per megabyte and coverage is usually very good in the UK, however it may lack in rural areas. Roaming on your personal phone plan can be expensive. To manage costs, consider purchasing a local UK SIM card for your phone. Several companies offer local SIM cards including Telestial, and CellularAbroad.


The Royal Mail provides postal services in the United Kingdom. The Royal Mail's store fronts are called Post Office and offer services ranging from sending letters and packages to foreign currency exchange. Use the branch locator to find the nearest Post Office branch. There will be at least one post office in any town/city and there are quite often post offices in larger villages. It's common for a post office to be incorporated into a grocery store, where there will be a small counter located at the back of the store for dealing with post related matters. All post offices are marked with signs that say 'post office' in red lettering. Post boxes can be found at any post office and standalone large red post boxes on the streets or red boxes in the sides of public buildings.
For sending packages overseas, it might be a good idea to check prices and services with international companies like TNT, UPS or DHL.

Quick Facts


  • Latitude: 50.37038
  • Longitude: -4.142653

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