“Ah Plymouth, breathe her in… She always goes down smooth” – the immortal words of famous news anchor Ron Burgundy. Actually, he might have been talking about San Diego.
While I get my facts straight, lets dive into the things that make Plymouth famous around the world. And no, it’s not the ‘World Famous Cap’n Jaspers’ which I can assure you no-one outside of South West Devon has heard of.
1. Not being Portsmouth
If you’ve ever tried to explain to someone who hasn’t visited the Westcountry where Plymouth is, you’ll probably have been greeted with a, “Oh, yeah down the road from Southampton”. I’m not sure if that qualifies as something that Plymouth as famous for, but it’s probably the most common response to an explanation of Plymouth’s geographic location.
2. The Pilgrim Fathers/Mayflower
On their way to a new life in ‘Murica, gun toting religious types stopped in Plymouth to stock up on pasties and ale for the journey. Although it’s probably the thing that Plymouth really is most famous for, the Mayflower actually stopped in Brest in northern France too, probably for some stinky cheese.
3. A scrappy pirate
If there is one thing that Plymouth produces lots of it’s rough and ready guys who are ready for a scrap. None more so than Sir Frances Drake – the Queen’s own pirate. He was such a brawler that he sank an entire fleet of Spanish invaders and proceeded to be a real life Jack Sparrow over in the Caribbean. Although he did also help set up the transatlantic slave trade which might not be part of the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disney World.
Ah the Cornish pasty, the pride of… Actually, apparently the first record of a pasty being made was in Plymouth. Sorry Cornwall, I know that’s fighting talk, but it is also #facts. Read it and weep.
5. A lighthouse (actually, two of them)
Smeaton’s Tower is the icon of Plymouth, and does make a lovely feature on the rather marvellous Hoe. And, on a clear day, you can see the other lighthouse out at the Eddystone, which is an inconveniently placed lump of rock 12 miles offshore in the English channel.
6. Good swimmers/divers
With all that water around it’s kinda inevitable that Plymouth would produce some Olympic standard water babies. Sharon Davies might have done some wild swimming back in the day. And Tom Daley took the local love of tombstoning and made it an Olympic sport – although he does it with a bit more grace and no wetsuit/trainer combo.
7. Charles Darwin left here
Aboard ‘The Beagle’, Charles Darwin famously set sail from Plymouth on his voyage to discover evolution. Apparently he didn’t enjoy his time in the city though. It was probably the fabulous maritime weather, or maybe the lack of cutting edge street food and craft beer that he was used to in London.
8. Brunel built a bridge
That Isambard Kingdon Brunel didn’t just have a snappy name, he was also a prolific bridge builder and tunneller. Disclaimer: He didn’t do it all himself, he got people to do the hard work bits. One of his most famous bridges (not the one in Bristol) links the railway from Plymouth to Cornwall. You don’t hear of many Isambards these days do you?
And that is what Plymouth is most famous for. I could probably list a few more things like surfing (which you can’t do in Plymouth) or being the location of the largest Naval port in Western Europe (thats more nerdy stuff than famous stuff).
Think of any more? Let us know in the comments below.