Visitors Walk Plymouth City Centre, Hoe and Barbican


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Plymouth Tourist walk City Centre, Hoe and Barbican

The following walk takes you from the Plymouth University College down to the Barbican and continues to the Hoe via the seafront. It then takes you up Armada Way through the City Centre and finishes at Drakes Shopping centre. Suited for all those visiting Plymouth and those interested in a two hour walk via the main points of interest. A google map of the walk is at the bottom of the page.

Starting at the University the - Roland Levinsky Building

Professor Roland Levinsky succeeded Professor John Bull as Vice Chancellor of the University and died on 1st January 2007 and this building was named after him. Exmouth Faculty of Arts moved to the new building in August 2007 which was designed by architects Henning Larsen with Building Design Partnership. The building is clad with copper sheet to give it a unique copper colour and character. 

Cross the road via zebra crossing to the Museum and Library -

Plymouth City Museum and Art Gallery

The museum looks after 300,000 artefacts and 80,000 photographs. Museum events, talks and exhibitions take place in its venues.

Follow the path keeping to the left and passing the Plymouth College of Art on Charles Street and onto Bretonside bus station using the zebra crossing and underpass. Then join Bretonside Road leading north to Buckwell Street take the left turning after the Spice Well restaurant onto Palace Street . Continue straight for 60 metres and the Merchant House is in front of you.

The Merchants House

An example of 16th century residents and was home to three Plymouth mayors in the 17th century including William Parker, a friend of Sir Frances Drake. The house has been turned into a museum of Plymouth’s history with a Plymouth in the blitz room a victorian school room and edwardian pharmacy. The house was used as a Taxi office until 1960s before being rescued by Plymouth City Council in 1970 and restored with the help of the Department of the Environment.

Continue north down St Andrews Street onto Notte Street turn left and cross the road via zebra crossing and follow signs to Barbican down Southside Street. On the left is the:

Plymouth Gin Distillery

Coates & Co Gin Distillery came into existence in 1793. British Royal Navy favoured a tipple of gin for “medicinal” purposes and its great demand made Plymouth Gin famous the world over. By the 1900’s New York alone was taking 1000 cases of gin a week and because of gin's popularity it became the star mixer for cocktails by the 1930’s.

Plymouth Barbican

Maritime history was made here by the Pilgrim Fathers in 1620. Gift and art shops line the main street with some great eating establishment, pubs and by the waterfront, restaurants and bars.

The road continues down to the Mayflower steps but take your time and take one of the lanes on the left to Quay Road which runs alongside the water and gives great views of Sutton Harbour. Plymouth National Marine Aquarium is just over the small foot bridge on the pathway that leads past Mayflower steps.

About 20 metres before reaching Barbican Road, between the shops you will find a cobbled street called “Citadel Road” that goes east, and about 25 metres up this road on the left you will find the Tudor House. 

Elizabethan House

In the Elizabethan times the Barbican prospered and John Sperks developed the area and added another street for those working in the Barbican known as New Street. William Hele purchased the Elizabethan House at 32 New Street in 1631 for £150. By the 19th century most of the property in the Barbican was over occupied with up to 24 people living in one property. The property was due to be demolished in the early 20th century but was purchased by the city and renovated as a Museum.

Double back on yourself and continue down Barbican Road north and on the other side of road is:

Barbican Mayflower Steps

On the 6th September 1620 the Pilgrim Fathers sailed from Plymouth in the Mayflower to the now United States. They arrived in Massachusetts on the 11th November 66 days after departing from Plymouth. Pilgrims Point, the arch above the Mayflower Steps gives views of the Queen's Anne Battery.

The Plymouth National Marine Aquarium

The UK’s largest aquarium with almost 400 different species and thousands of invertebrate animals on display.

Continue down Barbican Road north to join Madeira Road. The Royal Citadel is on your right which is an English Heritage site open for tours between May-September. At the mini roundabout turn left down Hoe Road to see the Tinside Lido. 

Tinside Lido Pool

This is an outside pool in the 1930’s Art Deco style and is open in the summer months for swimmers. It was opened in 1935 but closed in 1992 because of declining popularity and was reopened in 2005 after a local campaign. The pool has Grade II listing and cost £3.4 million to renovate.

Cross the Road and take the steps by the Plymouth Dome which takes you onto the Plymouth Hoe. The path leads up past Smeatons Tower and onto the Promenade the tarmaced area of the Hoe.

The Hoe

Plymouth Hoe is a large public place that over looks the seafront, Plymouth Sound and Drake's island. It’s a favourite place to see the August firework display and is used as a fair ground at different times of the year and was used for the Americans Cup in 2011. The area is best known for its story about Sir Frances Drake playing bowls on the green as the Spanish Armada passed by in 1588 heading up the channel.




Smeatons Tower Lighthouse

In use until 1877 on the rocks by the Eddystone Lighthouse but was dismantled and rebuilt on the Hoe. The tower stands at 72 feet high and was lit by 24 candles in 1759. It had to be moved after it was discovered that the base upon which it stood became unstable and was then rebuilt as a memorial to Smeaton in its present location. On the 24th September 1884 the Mayor of Plymouth opened the tower to the public.

Drakes Statue Plymouth Hoe

Sir Frances Drake born in Tavistock Devon has a statue on the Hoe and in Tavistock. The statue of Sir Francis Drake on the Hoe by Joseph Boehm is a copy of the original statue in Tavistock and was placed on the Hoe in 1884 to commemorate Sir Frances Drake's life.

Sir Frances Drake's Bowling Green

The Plymouth (Sir Francis Drake) Bowling club was founded in 1907 and moved to its present location in 1922.

War Memorial Plymouth Hoe

Honours those in the Royal Navy, Merchant Navy and Royal Marines who died in the First and Second World Wars, its central obelisk was created by Robert Lorimer and was unveiled in 1924 with the surrounding garden added by Edward Maufe in 1954.

Continue south towards Armada Way. At Citadel Road cross and take Armada Way south over Notte Street. The area is paved into the City Centre. The Plymouth City Council building is on left and Plymouth Guildhall is on your right.

Plymouth Guildhall

First built and opened in 1870’s by the Lord Mayor Mr. John Kelly but the building was gutted in the Plymouth blitz on the nights of March 21st and 22nd 1941. It was decided by the council to rebuild the Guildhall in 1950’s and was then reopened on Thursday 24th September 1959.

Plymouth City Council Building (Civic Centre)

The building has uninterrupted views of Armada Way and was opened by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on 26th July 1962.

At Royal Parade look east for St Andrews Church and follow the road west to the Theatre Royal.

Plymouth St Andrews Church

Originally part of the parish of Sutton and is an Anglican Church and is the largest parish church in Devon. This Church of England church was built in the late 15th century and is a busy evangelical church. It was damaged during the Plymouth blitz in World War II during March 1941 and restored by Sir Frederick Etchells after the war.

Use the zebra crossing at Derry’s Cross and follow Raleigh Road leading to Market Ave known as the west end of the City.

Plymouth City Market

Records show that Plymouth was given the rights to hold markets since 1253 and in 1440 Henry VI granted a Royal Charter. In 1915 the Charter was succeeded under the Plymouth Corporation Act of 1915. Until 2008 the city market was known as the Pannier Market derived from the French term for “basket”.  The name was dropped in 2008 as nobody uses baskets in the market and renamed the City Market. The building was erected between 1957 and 1959 and designed by local architects, Walls and Pearn. The building has grade II listing. This part of town is known as the west end.

Follow the road around the City Market keeping the market on your right to join Cornwall Street on the other side. Continue east up to Drakes Circus Shopping centre.

Drake Circus Shopping Centre

Seventy shops populate Drake Circus shopping centre with many of the UK’s top brand names. It was opened in 2006 after the site was redeveloped by architects Chapman Taylor. In 2007 the centre won two retail industry awards one being the Shopping location of the year.


View Hoe front, City Centre walk in a larger map










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