Posted on

The Story of Plymouth Barbican DVD launched with the fishes – at the National Marine Aquarium

Chris launches his new DVD at the NMA

Pic © Alexander Thomas Photography 2013

The spectacular Eddystone Reef tank made a stunning – and appropriate – backdrop for the launch of the new DVD ‘The Story of the Barbican’ this week.

The evening was introduced by Dr David Gibson, the Director of the National Marine Aquarium who said he was delighted to be hosting the event and he was followed by the film-maker Alan Tibbitts, who has recently relocated from Exminster to the Barbican. However it is not the first film about Plymouth that he has been involved with, as, over the last 20 years, he and his friend and colleague Chris Robinson have now made ten full-length features on varying aspects of the City – many of which have been based around Chris’s books.
Chris first opened his Barbican studio workshop 35 years ago this very week and has written over 20 books on Plymouth, including the Historic Barbican.
Responding on behalf of the City at the end of the showing, the Lord Mayor, Councillor Vivien Pengelly, said that as a former schoolteacher, she often took parties of children around the Barbican and was amazed at how little they knew about the area. “I only wish I there had been a film like this to show them then, I thought I knew the area quite well, but I’ve learnt a lot watching it. Everyone will enjoy learning something from this, we are lucky to have Chris and to benefit from the knowledge he has built up.’
Chris himself says that learning should be fun: “as Marshall McLuhan once put it ‘anyone who tries to make a distinction between education and entertainment doesn’t know the first thing about either’.”
The Story of Plymouth Barbican traces the history of the area over the last 1,000 years, from a small ‘inhabitation of fishers’ through a booming Tudor town and then a crowded commercial harbour, to a bustling tourist destination, populated by pubs, restaurants, independent shops and artist’s studios.
The film plots this heady transformation and, through the use of extensive archive material and contemporary footage, clearly demonstrates how much of the Barbican survived the war … but not the post-war planning.
Featuring the Elizabethan House and Gardens, the Merchant’s House, Plymouth Gin, the National Marine Aquarium and much much more, the Story of Plymouth Barbican also includes a very rare – and a very candid – interview with Robert Lenkiewicz.

You can buy The Story of Plymouth Barbican on this website here and watch the opening sequence to the new film below:

Posted on

Royal Oak Inn

The Royal Oak at Hooe

A popular village inn for 150 years and more (some of the buildings nearby date from the 1700s) the Royal Oak at Hooe was run in the middle of the last century by the Ryder family.

Thomas Ryder was here in 1850, and at the same time Abraham Ryder was at the Victoria Inn around the corner.

Thomas was succeeded by Henry Ryder and he was followed by Thomas Cole, who not only managed the pub but also collected and assessed the local rates and taxes.

Those were the days – when the Royal Oak was even closer to Hooe Lake than it is now, when water used to lap the mud and grassy bank that, prior to the infilling, came right up to the side of the road.

Messrs Pine, Furse, Wiltshire and Knight are among the various licensees from the earlier part of this century.

Originally published: EH 16 Nov 1999

Posted on


“An eastern district of Plymouth whose name means “plum-tree village”, from the Old English plume (plum tree) and tun (village)”, so says Adrian Room in his Dictionary of British Place-names. Another, earlier, authority, Eilert Ekwall agreed and reached a similar conclusion for Plymstock.

There were no such fruity thoughts in the work of Plympton scholar J Brooking-Rowe however; he favoured the idea that this was the settlement of a family of Plyms or Plins. Brooking-Rowe also put forward two other suggestions; Dyer’s, “pen”-“lim or lym”-“ton” three words, Celtic, Gaelic and Saxon respectively, which cobbled together give us “the enclosed space at a port head” and Baxter’s “pilim”-“ton”, the first element of which is associated with “rolling”.

Whatever the explanation all are agreed that Plympton gave its name to the river Plym, which in turn led to the more recent Plymouth.