old photos of Plymouth

I grew up in Plymouth, and though I haven’t lived there for about 8 years now and have no real desire to ever live there again, I still count it as my hometown and it’s still where I prefer to say I’m from when people ask. Apart from the obvious reasons (being born there, childhood memories, better football team), I think that a lot of my allegiance to Plymouth comes from the fact that it has a proper history. Compare it to Bournemouth for example, a town that’s celebrating it’s Bicentenary this year (lol) and the richness of Plymouth’s history really shines through.

That said, I’m mostly interested in things that I have a point of reference to, which is why I found this collection of old Plymouth photographs quite fun to browse through. In fact, the whole site is quite good, if not in need of a redesign.

There’s a massive amount of photos from all over the city (and beyond), dated at various points in the last hundred years or so. Some things look like they haven’t changed at all. The Barbican is going to look like this for another hundred years. I’m surprised that Cap’n Jaspersisn’t in any of the images.

This view of the houses on the Esplanade and Elliot Terrace is pretty much identical today, except for the buildings on the far left next to the Grand Hotel.

That building was actually in ruins when I was a wee lad.. We used to think that a monster lived down there, mostly because the smell was horrendous and there was an old mattress under some bushes. The joys of youthful imagination..

Looking back the other way toward West Hoe, the main difference today is the houses on Grand Parade in between Pier Street and West Hoe Road (the grassy bit furthest away); but it’s nice to see that hardly anything else has changed.

Turning a bit further out to sea, you get the massive difference of the pier which isn’t even hinted at these days.

It’s no Blackpool, but I think it would’ve been cool to have seen the pier.. It would certainly have made the seafront down there more enticing because when I was growing up, all we had was a rotting Tinside, some hazardous diving boards and a rocky ‘beach’.

This view from the end of the pier is quite cool, and shows the seafront with diving board and sea pools looking pretty much exactly as they do today.

It also shows a bit of the ‘wedding cake’ (the Belvadere) on The Hoe where I’ve spent many a night.

It still amazes me that the bit in front of it used to be an actual bullring. Horrible. Not that it was much nicer when I lived there. I got flashed at by ‘Billy Bellend’ while riding past one day. True story. Until then, I’d actually blocked it out of my memory. How odd. But anyway..

There are also plenty of photos of the Barbican and the rest of the town center that I find it hard to visualise in modern settings. Things like Millbay train station behind the Duke of Cornwall Hotel; I had no idea there used to be a train station there.

I vaguely remember when they were building the Pavilions (which is there now) but feel slightly guilty that I was so oblivious to what used to be there, just a few hundred meters from where I grew up. Odd.

But there’s a lot of that type of thing on the site. Places that I know so well but can’t imagine looking like they did (another quick example – this view of the train station looking down toward Pennycomequick.. I used to go down that road on the way to school, and I first met my wife whilst working in a building off center at the top. It’s so familiar yet so strange.)

There are literally hundreds more on the site, and similarly, these aerial shots of olden Plymouth a worth a look.. http://web.ukonline.co.uk/stephen.johnson/air/. Who controls the past, controls the future.

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