One of the UK’s most southerly cities, Plymouth is probably most famous for being the port that the Pilgrim Fathers left from, before forming the country that is now the United States of America. But there’s so much more to this place than those who left.
With a population of over 260,000, Plymouth is the second-largest city in the South-West region. The city generates a GVA of over £5billion a year, 25% of Devon’s total GVA.
Plymouth has become known as Britain’s Ocean City, and for good reason. For a city on the sea, it’s not surprising that water has been the driving factor of much of the city’s economy and prominence. From being the birthplace of Olympic medal-winning diver Tom Daley to having the first artificial diving reef in Europe to being the home of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom (MBA), water has really been integral to Plymouth’s success.
It is also home to the historic Smeaton Tower lighthouse. The third and most notable of the Eddystone Lighthouses, it was designed by celebrated civil engineer John Smeaton. Modelled on an oak tree, the design was significant step forward for these key seaside constructions. After Smeaton Tower went out of service in 1877, it was moved to Plymouth Hoe, where the Grade-I listed building stands as memorial and popular tourist attraction.
Other big draws for visitors are the Mayflower Steps – from where the famous vessel set sail for the New World in September 1620 – as well as the Plymouth City Museum and Art Gallery, the historic Plymouth Gin Distillery and National Marine Aquarium.
But if you want to head a little further in land, there’s plenty of beautiful countryside to be found. Dartmoor National Park, home to the famous Dartmoor ponies, is approximately a 20 minute drive away from the city. The landscape is so captivating that director Steven Spielberg said of it “I have never before, in my long and eclectic career, been gifted with such an abundance of natural beauty as I experienced filming War Horse on Dartmoor”. The Tamar Valley, which has been designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, is also nearby.
It’s also great to be a student in the town. With several top higher education institutions to choose from, including the University of Plymouth, the University of St Mark & St John and the Plymouth College of Art, students have a wide range of options here. And once they arrive, there’s plenty to keep them entertained with a good mix of culture, shopping, and nightlife to enjoy.
Though it may be tucked far down on the south coast, getting to Plymouth isn’t tricky. The A38 connects the city with more central England via Exeter and the M5 motorway. And the city’s historic railway station is about to get a massive boost. Dating back to 1877, Plymouth Railway Station will soon undergo a £50million rejuvenation, receiving £5million from the government as part of a funding project to boost the south-west region.
Plymouth’s housing market is also an attractive prospect. With a growing population, particularly within young professional and student demographics, and prices lower than the national average, buying a property in the city can be a pretty good deal.
A beautiful, historic port city that has so much going for it, Plymouth is sure to be drawing in students, workers, tourists and investors for years to come.