My novels Ditty Box and Blitz are mainly situated in Plymouth,
Devon. Many of my readers may not know much about Plymouth so I decided
to write a brief article concerning the city of my birth.
Plymouth sits on the Devon side of the border with Cornwall (or Kernow as it’s know in the Cornish language).
It has always been a port city since the Bronze Age settlement of what is now known as Mount Batten. The area of Sutton superseded this in the 9th century and became the start of the modern city Plymouth. Most British people have heard of Sir Francis Drake who insisted on finishing his game of bowls before he took the English fleet out to defeat the Spanish Armada. There is still a bowling green on The Hoe which is purported to be where he played, but I’m not sure if this is the actual green or just in the general location. The Mayflower also set out from Plymouth to take the Pilgrims to the New World (now the United States of America).
The nearby town of Devonport has always been a place for the Royal Navy and in 1914 Devonport, Plymouth and East Stonehouse merged to become the County Borough of Plymouth.
Over the years Plymouth has grown and is now the second largest city in the area. Devonport Dockyard which serves the Royal Navy is the largest operational navy base in Western Europe and still employs a lot of the work force of Plymouth.
Entering the city from the English Channel a ship passes around the breakwater and lighthouse. Next ships pass Drakes Island which over the years has had various uses. The land looking out over the sea is The Hoe, a place for Plymothians (or Janners as they are often called. There are many different explanations as to why they are called by this name). On the Hoe is Smeaton’s Tower which used to be the Eddystone Lighthouse, until it was replaced and the old tower resurrected looking over Plymouth Sound.
The River Tamar separates Devon from Cornwall to the left of The Hoe while to the right if the Barbican where the fishing industry of Plymouth has been settled for a long time.
The city centre sits down the hill behind The Hoe. Most of the area has been built since it was destroyed by the blitz during World War II, but there have been ongoing updates and renovations during all the years since then. The city spreads out behind the shops and buildings of the city centre until it reaches the countryside which is the beginning of Dartmoor.
This article may not be completely historically correct, as most of it is from my memories of growing up in Plymouth and stories from the older members of my family. Hope you enjoy reading about Plymouth and it helps you to interact more with my novels.