Plymouth: Vision of a modern city

By Jeremy Gould

  • Examines the landscape and architecture of post-war Plymouth
  • Attractively illustrated with contemporary and newly commissioned photographs and drawings
  • Will appeal to planning and conservation professionals, students of architecture and town planning, and the people of Plymouth

Post-war reconstruction offered unparalleled opportunities to the developing profession of urban planners to cast off the constraints imposed by historic infrastructure and produce a new vision of urban living, expressed in rationally designed city centres linked to suburban precincts and with modern integrated transport systems.

Plymouth is the foremost English example of post-war reconstruction on the grand scale, laid out to the designs of the most influential urban planner of the day, Sir Patrick Abercrombie. This book explains the circumstances which led to the development of Abercrombie's Plan for Plymouth (1943) and shows how the plan was implemented in the period 1945-62. Discussion of the overall scheme for the renewed city is complemented by description of the different zones which made up both the central area and the new suburbs, and attention is paid to the landscape forms and architectural styles employed in civic, commercial and residential areas. The significance of what was achieved in Plymouth will be assessed and international context is provided by comparison with British and European examples of contemporary planning. Urban regeneration programmes pose a threat to the legacy of the post-war reconstruction period, and the listing of post-war buildings is often contentious and contested.

Finally, a discussion of the conservation issues raised by present-day plans for renewal in Plymouth will contribute to current debate about the formulation of policy relating to the buildings and landscapes of the post-war era.


  1. The Plan for Plymouth
    Plymouth before the War
    Victorian city
    The blitz
    Patrick Abercrombie and A Plan for Plymouth
    The Plan described
    Precedents for the Plan
  2. Realising the Plan 1945-51 and 1951-62 (the City Centre)
    Abercrombie, William Crabtree and Thomas Tait
    Revisions to the Plan – City Architect and City Engineer
    Roads and ring roads, transport and cars
    Zoning versus mixed uses
    Armada Way and Royal Parade
    First buildings: brick and Portland stone.  Opening of Dingles.  Thomas Tait and the architecture of mass.  The architecture of the 1940s/1950s.
    The completion of the city centre – New George Street to Mayflower Street
    Feature buildings:  banks, institutions and the Pannier Market, Guildhall, St. Andrew’s Church.  The Civic Centre.
    Changes in materials and composition
    Sculpture and applied art
  3. The Abercrombie suburbs
    Housing: Louis de Soissons and Hector Stirling
    Neighbourhood centres
    Open spaces
    Churches and schools
    A38 Parkway and the Tamar bridge
  4. Completing the Plan and its significance
    Completion of the Plan 1962-2000
    The significance of the Plan and criticism
    British contemporaries:  Coventry, Canterbury, Exeter, Hull etc.
    European contemporaries:  Le Havre, Amiens, Rotterdam (Lijnbaan)
  5. The Conservation of the Plan
    The survival of the Plan
    The Mackay Vision 2003
    Listed buildings
    Conservation area and issues

    Further reading (bibliography)
    Map guide

Additional Information

  • Series: Informed Conservation
  • Publication Status: Completed
  • Pages: 96
  • Illustrations: 80 colour and b&w illustrations
  • Product Code: 51531
  • ISBN: 9781848023222 (e-book)


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