Thursday, 16 May 2013

Devonport Column open to public

Foulston's Devonport centre, Ker Street
from Devonshire & Cornwall illustrated (1832)
A bit over two years back - John Foulston's Devonport (6th Dec 2010) - I mentioned the 1820s development of a new civic centre when the district Plymouth Dock became the independent borough of Devonport. Its central landmark structures - a "picturesque group" - were a Parthenon-inspired town hall (now Devonport Guildhall), an Egyptian-style library (now the Oddfellows Hall), the  "Hindoo style" Mount Zion Calvinist Chapel (unfortunately demolished in 1902), and a 124-foot column commemorating Devonport's rebadging.

View Larger Map - Column under wraps during renovation in 2012

Nearly 200 years on, the Grade 1 listed Column, following a three-year refurbishment, reopened to the public on Saturday, the first time there's been full access since the 1950s. Being a great fan of tower views, whether modern or cathedrals, I'm going to have to give this one a visit some time soon. I see they've been on the safe side and put a wire cage around the observation gallery at the top, but it doesn't cover the gaps in the balustrade, so there's no impediment to photography. Apparently you can see all the way to Dartmoor.

I've written a little more about the reopening at the Devon History Society site - Devonport Column reopens to public - and you can check out the Devonport Guildhall website for visitor details, a history, and a gallery of images of the column and its illuminations at the opening party (there's a full-length video of the opening event projections).

- Ray

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