The BarbicanPlymouth
Devon PL1 2NA
 
 
 

The Barbican is the name given to the oldest remaining part of Plymouth. It takes in the western and northern side of the old harbour and covers the location and area of the old medieval walled town of Sutton (Plymouth).

Luckily this portion of the town did not suffer badly in the Second World War Blitz and many of the oldest surviving streets and buildings have been restored by the ‘Old Plymouth Society’ and are now owned and maintained by the Plymouth Barbican Association.
 
They have been turned into museums, antique shops, galleries, the Barbican Theatre, restaurants and bars. The oldest street is ‘New Street’ which runs along the south side of the Barbican. Much of the cobbled wharf has been covered to provide an all-weather area for visitors to sit and watch the world go by.
 
Until the 19th century the area was the base for the fishing fleet, a source of experienced seamen for Drake, Hawkins and Raleigh, a provisioning and victualling centre for the Navy and a departure point for willing and unwilling emigrants to other lands.
 
Departure Point for Famous Explorers
Many famous explorers and adventurers have left from this spot: Devon man Sir Francis Drake was a well known figure around the port and a local Plymouth hero. Captain James Cook set out on all three of his Pacific voyages from here, so did Charles Darwin, Robert Falcon Scott and Sir Ernest Shackleton.
 
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Pilgrim Fathers
The best known emigrants were the Pilgrim Fathers who, in 1620, called in to await the repair of their sister ship ‘Speedwell’ before setting off for the New World. Tradition says that they were entertained at the Island House (9 The Barbican), where today there is a plaque listing the names of all the passengers. The Mayflower Steps memorial marks where the Pilgrims left English soil.
 
The Barbican wharves were also the last view of England afforded to many convicts transported to Australia. The Tolpuddle Martyrs were pardoned and in 1836 four of the six returned to Plymouth and stayed in the Dolphin Inn before going their separate ways. They are commemorated by a plaque at the Mayflower Steps.
 
Museums
The cobbled streets, the Elizabethan House Museum on New Street, and the Merchant's House Museum in St Andrew’s Street will give visitors the feel of old Plymouth.
 
Next door to St Andrew’s Church is Prysten House (with The Greedy Goose Restaurant situated on the Ground Floor), probably the oldest domestic structure in the heart of old Plymouth
 
Also there is the distillery complex where Plymouth Gin has been distilled since 1793.
 
Pubs, Bars & Restaurants
In common with many ports the Barbican has a plentiful supply of public houses. Some are very old such as the King’s Head, at Bretonside and the Minerva in Looe Street. Look for the CAMRA emblem if you are wishing to sample local ales. Other old buildings have recently been turned into pubs, bars and restaurants. At 38 Southside Street is F H Jacka, a great little bakery and Britain’s oldest (it was operating in the 16th century).
 
Modern attractions across the harbour at Coxside are the impressive National Marine Aquarium and the fish market. The auctions are some of the busiest on the south coast. There is much activity around the market quay as trawlers and small fishing boats arrive to offload their catches. For more information on the Aquarium go to Web:  National Marine Aquarium    External Link
 
There is a swing footbridge connecting the two sides of Sutton Harbour. The Barbican has plenty to interest the tourist, and an abundance of places to eat and drink.
 
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Contact & Further Information
The Barbican has its own website
 
Getting There
Go to the link below for a street map of Plymouth showing places of interest and ferry.  Web:  Plymouth City Map    External Link
 
Google Map - The Barbican, Plymouth