Sunday 30 June 2013

Armed Forces Day - Sat 29th June, Plymouth Hoe

After last year's huge National Armed Forces Day 2012, staged in Plymouth and attended by PM David Cameron, this year also looked promising and with the sun shining over the City, it proved to be a perfect Summer's day out for all the family to show their respect for members of our Armed Forces past and present. Although the air displays were scaled down this year, along with no Naval salute due to the powerboat racing that was taking place in The Sound, Plymouth Hoe provided locals and tourists with a packed entertainment programme throughout with plenty of displays in the ground arena and the length of The Hoe. The day began with the RAF and Allied Forces Memorial Service and opening of the Veterans Village Marquee with over 40 organisations.

It gives the public chance to get up close and personal with the men and women of our Armed Forces, with generations of Plymouthians and plenty of families coming together for this excellent day. Particularly impressive for me was the weapons displays and Bomb Disposal Displays from the Devonport Based Units but what stood out most was some of the more lesser know organisations were really busy on their stands throughout the day including the Royal Observer Corps, British Korean War Veterans Association, Wrens, and the Devonport Naval Heritage Centre which has been given a new lease of life this year, with new displays and more open days.

One of the busiest displays of the day came in the form of Devon and Cornwall Police with great displays from the Counter Terrorism Underwater Search Teams and highlight of the day for many, the brand new Lotus sports car in full Police livery. All the kids will want one and Dad too for this new car for the Devon and Cornwall Force will be a regular sight on the roads after being loaned by Lotus for road safety awareness. It will be seen around events for the next few weeks until being handed back to Lotus.

Overall the whole day was a resounding success and thanks must go out to all the organizers, Plymouth City Council and all the organisations that once again brought The Hoe well and truly alive for this annual event, and we look forward to more in the future.

Friday 14 June 2013

Resurgam - The Lost Pearl of Plymouth

I had the pleasure of meeting for lunch with Hannah Wood last week, writer of a new exciting interactive game called Resurgam: The Lost Pearl of Plymouth.  Hannah contacted me a while back with previews for the game and the concept, which got my attention straight away upon hearing 'lost tunnels'. I saw the trailer for the game and realised that Mutant Labs, whose works I have followed for a while, were also behind this collaborative effort that looks to be a cracking event. It's certainly an innovative approach to bringing the history alive, and we love it!

The game is set to take place during Plymouth's Ocean City Festival in September and will see hundreds of adventurers take part in the city's first location-based live game.

Resurgam: The Lost Pearl of Plymouth will see gamers using mobile technology to navigate their way around the City's maritime heritage. The adventure will begin from a secret city centre location and be led on a supernatural hunt, participants experiencing live storytelling and theatre bringing the game to life in all sorts of mysterious ways. The finale will take place inside the Royal William Yard, steeped itself in history from it's days as a Royal Naval Victualling Depot. Now transformed by Urban Splash into a vibrant waterfront community of homes, offices and restaurants such as the highly acclaimed River Cottage brand. Around 400 participants will descend on the Yard, culminating in a final performance and live music aboard a ghost ship. Take a sneak peak at the preview video below......

Supported by Plymouth University and Arts Council England, Resurgam is written by Hannah Wood. Created and produced by Story Juice, Mutant Labs and the University's world renowned Institute of Digital Arts and Technology (i-DAT), with actors from Rogue Theatre giving the event an authentic historic feel.

This looks to be a fantastic event, and the game's writer Hannah gave us an insight into what will happen on the day with some exciting plans, although we are sworn to secrecy so you will just have to find out what happens on the day! I, for one, really hope this can become an ongoing project for all to enjoy. We would like to wish everyone behind the project the best of luck and look forward to the event in September. Keep an eye out for future updates via the dedicated website Resurgam: The Lost Pearl of Plymouth.

Wednesday 12 June 2013

Excursions - A Tale of Two Pillboxes

Back in May, I was chatting with the Chairman of Plymouth Caving Group, Dave Warne, who mentioned that one of the group mentioned about some bunkers appearing at Downderry, due to a landslide. Instantly I thought it to be the WWII Radar Bunker that survives hidden from view high on the cliff face. Downderry was the site of a major RAF Chain Home Radar Installation & heavy military activity during the Second World War, but little evidence remains with main part of the site now West and East Camps Bay housing. However, after a bit of poking about some years ago, I came across a WWII looking structure up on the hillside which had myths surrounding it's depth into the hillside and tales of a long tunnel. I'll feature more on that another time as not long after that, myself and a friend came across another bunker well hidden from view. This was sealed up a couple of years back after numerous all-night parties taking place.

Distraction after distraction, the conversation became a distant memory until out on the mine trip last weekend with Jezz in search of Churchill's Army Bunkers. Jezz brought up the same subject, but this time was more specific in stating that two defensive pillboxes had been revealed due to recent landslides and it was only a matter of time combined with more heavy weather for gravity to take it's process.

The landslip that has uncovered WWII pilboxes after  years of being camouflaged  by nature for years

The wife and I finally made a recce visit yesterday to see for ourselves and was pretty pleased to see they were still perched high on the cliff, now exposed after years of nature reclaiming the shuttered concrete defensive positions that would have protected the Radar Installation, obscuring them from view. The weather conditions over the last year in Cornwall resulted in landslides all over the county and Downderry has had quite a few landlsips across a range of around 1,000 metres that we walked. What it has done is essentially brought exposed two previously undocumented buildings important to our research, the results of which will be passed to English Heritage and The Defence of Britain Database Archive, enabling them to update their records.

A sunnier photo showing the exposed pillboxes

Their uncovering sheds new light on this former site that also had a number of air raid shelters,although no trace has been found of any of these so far. Who knows what else the thick knee ripping gorse holds, smothering these pillboxes making them virtually impenetrable, with mother nature almost taking a defensive stance. We have a surveyor of landslips and erosion coming down to take a look from the beach and offer her opinion on how long she estimates their gradual descent and will update you as to her findings.

Do you have any memories or old photographs of Downderry during the Second World War?

Did you explore the site as a child in the fifties before demolition?

If so, please get in touch. We would love to hear from you