Five of the best things Plymouth has given the world

We all know there’s plenty of history to Plymouth. The streets are full of reminders and monuments dedicated to adventurers, engineers and expeditions.

But aside from a long line of historical events, as well as us cheery Plymouth folk, what has this ocean city really given the world?

From food and drink, to spaces to perform and even a number of industry-changing revelations, we’ve compiled a list of just some of the best things to come out of this city’s heritage.

Can you think of any more?

What would you say is the best thing to come out of Plymouth? Let us know in the comments below or by emailing ellie.kendall@reachplc.com.

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Gin

(Image: TripAdvisor)

Plymouth is home to the iconic Plymouth Gin Distillery, which opened in a former monastery in 1793 and now gives gin connoisseurs and visitors to the city the chance to tour the site and sample some freshly made Plymouth Gin.

Though, of course, gin itself wasn’t invented here, Plymouth’s is the oldest working gin distillery in England and ours is 41.2% ABV (alcohol by volume) making for a slightly less dry drink than the more common London style of gin.

Plymouth Gin was very popular in the first part of the 20th century and 23 gin based cocktail recipes which appear in The Savoy book of cocktails name Plymouth Gin specifically.

It was a tradition in the Royal Navy that all newly commissioned vessels receive a “Plymouth Gin Commissioning kit” – a wooden box containing two bottles of navy strength Plymouth gin and glassware – and Plymouth Gin is traditionally used in the historic sailor’s celebratory drink Mahogany, which comprises of gin beaten into warmed black treacle.

Lighthouse design

Smeatons tower standing tall against a stormy backdrop
(Image: Astra Bassett)

Smeaton’s Tower, the third and perhaps best-known of the Eddystone Lighthouses, was a breakthrough in lighthouse design and helped shape the way lighthouses are designed for years after.

The first and second lighthouses to be built were destroyed by a storm and fire, with the third (created by civil engineer John Smeaton) based on the shape of an oak tree and is notable in the way that it showcased the importance in the development of concrete for building.

Its upper portions now stand as a monument to its creator on Plymouth Hoe.

The fourth Eddystone Lighthouse still stands on Eddystone Rocks, south of Rame Head.

Porcelain

William Cookworthy, born in 1705, was a Quaker and porcelain manufacturer

Devon Pharmacist, William Cookworthy, was the first person in Britain to discover how to make hard-paste porcelain, like that imported from China and, soon after, discovered china clay in Cornwall.

In 1768 he founded a works in Plymouth for the production of ‘Plymouth Porcelain’, which would kick start the country’s industry.

Funnily enough, Cookworthy was also an associate of John Smeaton, who lodged at his house while he was building that infamous third Eddystone lighthouse.

Cookworthy helped Smeaton with the development of hydraulic lime, which was essential to the successful building of the lighthouse.

Adventurers

The Sir Francis Drake statue on Plymouth Hoe
(Image: Paul Slater)

Not only did the Mayflower set sail from Plymouth docks, headed for the New World in 1620, famous sea-farer Sir Francis Drake called this place home.

He sailed the world, fought against the Spanish Armada and was even knighted by Queen Elizabeth I in 1581 – the same year he was appointed mayor of Plymouth.

He married his first wife at St Budeaux Church, here, in 1569 and became a member of parliament for Plymouth in 1593.

Plenty of places in the city are named after him, even including the shopping centre and a roundabout.

Live performance

THE OLD PALACE THEATRE, IN UNION STREET, PLYMOUTH. ESCAPOLOGIST HARRY HOUDINI APPEARED HERE IN 1924

Plymouth has seen its fair share of live performers over the years.

The Palace Theatre, which opened in 1898, played host to the likes of Harry Houdini, Charlie Chaplin, Lillie Langtry and comedy double act Laurel and Hardy, to name a few.

Then, once it had been transformed into one of the top dance venues in the UK (in 1997) named ‘The Dance Academy’, it welcomed top DJs like Ferry Corsten, Judge Jules and Dave Pearce.

What’s more, there’s a whole host of famous faces who have come from the streets of Plymouth and the city still plays host to a number of music and theatrical events and festivals each year.

Plymouth Live