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Drake’s Place Gardens, Plymouth - copyright G Sansom

A Green Gem at the Heart of Plymouth – Restoring Drake’s Place Gardens

View of Colonnade at Drakes Place (photo by G Sansom)

Cornwall Environmental Consultants, the landscape and ecology consultancy of Cornwall Wildlife Trust, have been working with the Heritage Lottery Fund and Plymouth University to implement restoration of a unique park in the centre of Plymouth, supported by Le Page Architects, Hydrock Engineers and Randall Simmonds Quantity Surveyors.

Drake’s Place Gardens & Reservoirs is a unique and relatively unaltered example of a Victorian park, with Edwardian landscape design and planting, which has historically been implemented by Treseder Nurseries of Truro. Drake’s Mills would have been located within the park boundaries. The mills were fed by Drake’s Leat from Dartmoor. The leat was part of the pioneering water supply for Plymouth in Tudor times, being built in 1591 by a committee chaired by Sir Francis Drake. The reservoirs seen on this site today are later 1891 reconstructions of the original 1820 basins.

The restoration includes extensive works to the cascade which has been restored to its original form, cleaning of the stone work, fabrication of replica railings, surfacing and a planting scheme reflecting the original historic design. The fountains are being restored as a key item asked for by the community in the early consultation processes. New signage and interpretation will also be implemented along with a step free route from North Hill to the University campus.

The restoration of the park and garden is now nearing its completion, with opening scheduled for June 2014. Works are led by the Landscape Architects at Cornwall Environmental Consultants, acting as Contract Administrators and Lead Consultants.

Birgit Hontzsch, Principal Landscape Architect and Lead Consultant on the restoration scheme, said;

This is a very exciting high profile project due to its important history and central location in a highly urbanised area in Plymouth, which is reflected in the support given to the scheme by the Heritage Lottery Fund.We are looking forward to seeing the fountains and cascade being operational once more within the newly landscaped gardens.”

Win Scutt, Drake’s Place Community Engagement Officer at Plymouth University, said;

“The restoration of the Drake’s Place Gardens and Reservoir has been an exciting project, but the end result is truly stunning. All the contractors have embraced our ambitious vision to reinstate the area as a place for the whole community to enjoy. Their attention to detail and appreciation of the cultural and historical significance of the gardens and reservoir have created a setting that will breathe new life into the centre of Plymouth.”


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