Friday 26 October 2012

Plymouth Airport - In Limbo

Almost a year on from closure, Plymouth City Airport still lies in a state of limbo, a modern day battle for it's future ongoing between the owners & a group of Plymothians fighting to bring it back to operational use, backed by thousands of locals who fear the loss of the airport would have detrimental effect for the city's growth. This week, a 38,000 strong petition was delivered to the Prime Minister by Plymouth Labour MP, Alison Seabeck along with hundreds of letters & e-mails of support for the Viable group. To show your support & get the full lowdown head over to the Viable website or their Facebook page;

Over the coming months we will look back on the airport with a glorious history that dates back to 1923, & it's use in WWII as a Royal Naval Air Station & then RAF Roborough. We are looking to expand on the history already in the public domain with personal accounts of the people who manned & worked, or even visited the airfield over the years & encourage any former military or civilian to get in touch with us to share your memories.

The final day of operations was Friday 23rd December, 2011 & Hidden Plymouth obtained exclusive photos of the sombre day that until now, have never been published. Much of what we document has been left to rot or demolished. Like those lost places, will we be looking back on these photos in 10 years time with views of runways replaced with housing & retail village....The sound of aircraft engines rumbling down the old polo field never to be heard again.....We hope not! Viable has our support & we hope that their hard work will finally result in the airport reopening & provide a gateway to the local economy as part of Plymouth's future growth.

Plymouth City Airport - Final Day of Ops

Monday 8 October 2012

Excursions #1 - Wistman's Wood, Dartmoor

Welcome to the first of Hidden Plymouth Excursions, & a nice car journey that takes us to Dartmoor for a popular destination for Plymothians to discover - Wistman's Wood. This visit can be classed as our first real trip to experience the woods in their full beauty under clear skies as the first visit back in 2008 was shrouded in dense fog & driving rain. This time, the weather couldn't have been better & taking a welcome break from heavy research & we decided to join our Cousin, a former Royal Marine who used the area for training back in the nineties, now enjoying this vast landscape for it's charm, beauty & ruggedness. It's worth noting that if you plan your own visit, do a little research on the moor conditions & weather check as it can be a dangerous place in stormy weather.

Wistman's Wood is located near to Two Bridges Hotel, where you can find limited parking for a short visit. Even though the sun was blazing down, the heavy rainfall in previous days was evident with boggy conditions & fast flowing streams. Lying alongside the West Dart River, the wood was designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest in 1964. The source of the Devonport Leat lies in close proximity & will feature on another excursion in the near future.

This ancient copse of dwarf oak trees is filled with tales of myth & mystery, & with a quick search on Google you can find for yourselves the stories that surround this magical & enchanting location but don't just read about it - go see for yourself!


On the day of this visit we were driving back & slowed down on the Princetown road for a group of ponies crossing the highway a few hundred yards ahead. As we drew closer, a stupid idiot on 125cc motorbike overtook us at speed, but luckily the last pony had just got moorside as he reached them. Later that night, a biker hit a pony which was killed in the process. Now we're not saying that the biker was at fault because night conditions are different but what's needed is just a little care & attention when driving across Dartmoor & thankfully it is a minority choose to ignore.

Sunday 7 October 2012

Hidden Plymouth : Excursions

What's all this I hear you say - well it's a little something extra that isn't strictly Plymouth but maybe has a connection to the City, & more importantly offers you a short guide to a day trip out for the family without having to spend a fortune & seeing for yourselves the living history that surrounds us in all it's splendor.

The forgotten railways that served Plymouth enveloped by nature or modern development, Tors & sites across ancient Dartmoor that generations of Plymothians have walked, & a smattering of hidden gems & facts along the way. We can only try & portray these locations the best we can but highly recommend that you visit some for yourself to appreciate the atmosphere & beauty of the locations.

Our first excursion take us to the magical location of Wistman's Wood on the fringes of wild Dartmoor, a location we frequently visit for a few hours break from research, or the City life. Featuring throughout the Excursions series will be long forgotten homesteads, quarries, barren landscapes along with some of the better known places that surround Plymouth, aiming to capture the essence of each visit.

Excursions #1 - Wistman's Wood, Dartmoor

Friday 5 October 2012

The Plymouth Pear

Now for something a little different.....

We received an e-mail a few weeks back from one of our readers kindly asking if they could supply an article for the blog & we were glad to oblige, especially as the subject was a little different to what you are normally used to on here & we would like to thank John Lamb for the article below.

Hidden Site of Special Scientific Interest by John Lamb

I feel very privileged to write a guest post for this blog, I find the discoveries on this blog to be exciting and a real boys own adventure. So please bear with me as I have something a little bit different to reveal to you. I work for a Plymouth self storage company and my job is to find new storage sites and carry out research on the site before we complete the deal.
When we were looking at our Plymouth site I carried out a few searches and one thing that was raised by the landlords was the fact that the site had a TPO on the site – a Tree Protection Order.  Not only that but it was also classed as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). Not knowing what a TPO was, or indeed what a SSSI is I researched it and it turns out we have one of the rarest trees in the Britain on the storage site. 

The Plymouth pears are only found in two places, Plymouth and near Truro in Cornwall. To develop the storage site we had to work with Natural England to make sure they were happy with the development around the trees and make sure they were protected during construction and once the site was open. Sadly the pears aren’t very tasty to eat, I believe they are edible but they’re certainly not like the pears you buy in your local green grocers. They are very small and quite hard.

So it may not be a cave, air raid shelter or secret passage way but Plymouth has once again revealed it has something rare and worth protecting. The pictures show the trees and their tags, each protected tree being numbered I believe.

Further information can be found here;

Tuesday 2 October 2012

The Hidden Rifle Range

Thanks to a young chap via the Facebook page, we were pointed in the direction of something completely new to us & unsurprisingly so due to it's sheltered location on the outskirts of Plymouth, which shall remain anonymous due to being on private land. It may just be a simple rifle range for locals but we intend to determine if it had any military use after finding a small piece of graffiti half-worn away on the whitewashed brick. Similar graffiti found in other military structures often refer to a soldiers company & as seen in the photo, what looks like a 'C' which could have been C Company.

Across the stream, the bunker is out of picture to the right

The tree on the right now sits in front of the bunker

Side roof section view

Barred window now overgrown
Looking through the window - targets acquired

The range itself lies in a deep valley, with the targets across a stream & built into the hillside which is now a wooded area. Without that much needed help of local knowledge we would probably never have seen it & a thanks also goes to the three young farmers who guided us to the semi-sunken range targets & bunker. Consisting of just 2 target hoists & a protected bunker for the persons operating the targets, it made us wonder if the range was purposely built for Army Officers & in just 2 days since visiting the site, have found references to WWI training taking place in the area. Further research is clearly required!

Mud covered steps lead down to the target hoists & bunker
Looking down into the target hoist pit
Another view from above
Target hoists
Top section of the target hoist
Lower section
Target pully wheels
Ceramic socket
Look up above the target & notice fern now covering the bullet impact area
Look even harder, the two dark patches are the target impact areas
Inside the small protective bunker
Old graffiti, sadly almost worn away