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Situated on the south coast of Devon, Plymouth has one or two claims to fame! It is home to The Black Friars Distillery, the oldest working gin distillery in England, where the Mayflower fathers are said to have spent their last night before setting sail to the New World. Plymouth also has the largest operational naval base in Western Europe, HMNB Devonport, and its economy remains, to this day, strongly influenced by its shipbuilding and seafaring history.
Built in 1815, Union Street was at the heart of Plymouth’s historical culture. It became known as ‘the servicemen’s playground’, as it was where Royal Navy sailors would go for entertainment. During the 1930s, there were 30 pubs in the street, and its New Palace Theatre attracted such performers as Charlie Chaplin. Today, outdoor events and festivals include the annual British Firework Championships, Plymouth Sound, Plymouth Art Weekender, Plymouth Fringe Festival, Illuminate Festival… The list goes on!
There’s something for everyone when it comes to theatre and cinema. The Theatre Royal Plymouth presents large-scale West End shows as well as smaller works, and there are two cinemas in the city –Plymouth Arts Centre and Vue at the Barbican Leisure Park. The Plymouth Athenaeum, which includes a local interest library, is a society dedicated to the production of learning in the fields of science, technology, literature and art, and in 2017, its auditorium returned to use as a theatre, having been out of action since 2009. And that’s not forgetting attractions for the art lovers out there… Plymouth City Museum and Art Gallery allows free admission. It has not one – but six! – galleries in all.
A popular base for visitors to Dartmoor, the Tamar Valley and the beaches of south-east Cornwall, Plymouth is a popular stop for tourists. It also offers ferry links to Brittany and Spain, so tourism is of economic importance to the city. Having grown from its humble beginnings as a commercial shipping port, handling imports and passengers from the Americas, and exporting local minerals, it now leans towards more service-based industries. Since the 1980s, employment in the defence sector has decreased substantially and the public sector is now prominent, particularly in administration, health, education, medicine and engineering. However, a large cluster of marine and maritime businesses continue to operate from this section of Devonshire coastline. For instance, Devonport Dockyard is the UK’s only naval base that refits nuclear submarines, generating around 10 per cent of Plymouth’s income. In addition, Plymouth Science Park employs around 500 people in 50 companies, and the university has around 3,000 staff on the payroll, with an annual income of around £160 million.
The University of Plymouth enrols around 22,000 students each year, and offers a wide range of courses including those focused on marine business, marine engineering, marine biology, environmental sciences, surf science, shipping and logistics. The city is also home to two large colleges – the City College Plymouth and Plymouth College of Art – together with 71 state primary schools, 13 state secondary schools, eight special schools and three selective state grammar schools. There is also an independent school in Plymouth College.
The A38 runs from east to west across the north of the city, connecting Plymouth to the M5, as well as Cornwall and Devon via the Tamar Bridge. There are regular bus services provided by Plymouth Citybus, Stagecoach South West and Target Travel, along with three park and ride parks. Plymouth City Airport has closed, resulting in the expansion of Exeter International Airport, while rail services continue to operate from Plymouth Railway Station.
If you would like to move to the sunny south coast, you can purchase a terraced property in Plymouth city centre for around £181,197, or a semi-detached property for £210,851, with an overall average house price of around £204,008.