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CASTLE DYKE LANE

Writing almost two hundred years ago the early Plymouth historian Woollcombe wrote of the Barbican that the name ‘indeed implies that it was a fortified place, and projected from the Castle itself, which stood on the hill above, now called Lambhay Hill.  Some remains of this Castle are still to be found but few visible.  The old names still continued of the adjoining streets point out its situation, viz Castle Street and Castle Dyke Lane.’

Today there is even less evidence of the old Edward III castle – which predated Drake’s fort and the Citadel and whose four towers gave us our civic badge – however the thoroughfares remain and Castle Dyke Lane is remarkable for almost certainly being the city’s narrowest inhabited street.  The name itself is an alternative form of ‘ditch’ and, as you might expect, there are many other Castle Dykes dotted around the British Isles – in Lincolnshire (a navigable waterway), Kent (another waterway), Yorkshire, Scotland, Cornwall and Devon (Launceston and Chudleigh).

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PYM STREET

Many streets in this neighbourhood are named in honour of past Commanders-in-Chief of Devonport, but the name Pym has local associations that go back long before the ‘port of Devon’, as it became, was even conceived.

John Pym, the MP for Tavistock, was a childhood friend of Sir Francis Drake (nephew of his famous namesake) and he it was who, along with John Eliot in 1628, presented Charles I with the Petition of Right a document the King was forced to accept.  He was also one of the Five Members that the King tried to arrest two years after Parliament was recalled after an eleven year break, in 1640.

King Pym, as he came to be known, died at the age of 59 in 1643, after having taken the lead in collecting taxes to fund an army to fight for the Parliamentarians in the Civil War.

Pym Street itself dates from the middle of the nineteenth century and was fully laid out by 1852 when the new Keyham Steamyard (North Yard) at Morice Town was being completed.

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HOE STREET

Time was when Hoe Street ran from Notte Street straight up to the Hoe, however in the 1950s post-war redevelopment of Notte Street the bottom end was appropriated for the construction of the so-called ‘star’ (on account of their shape and design) flat developments.  The western side of Hoe Street was also redeveloped after the war and apart from a section of terraced housing on the eastern side, and the Margaret Macmillan Nursery (the former rectory building), little now survives of the original thoroughfare.

Originally Hoegate Street, which runs parallel and to the east of Hoe Street, and Zion Street, which runs parallel and to the west, also offered direct uphill access to the Hoe – that high ridge or ‘hoh’ (to use the Old English term) that gave them both their names.  However like Hoe Street, the other two no longer provide a through road to the Hoe, however such a connection was re-instated in the 1980s when the imaginatively named Hoe Approach Road was created to provide a pedestrian and vehicular route through to that high ridge.

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ATHLONE HOUSE

Athlone House, off Union Place was opened on 27 November 1950, which was good news for many who in some cases been waiting almost ten years to once again have a home of their own.  Mr and Mrs George Reed with their two children were the first to move in to the flats, their three-bedroomed Corporation accommodation costing them 30s 4d (152p) per week.  Princess Alice, Countess of Athlone, herself was welcomed by Mrs Reed as the Princess and her husband presided over the opening ceremony.  Lady Astor was there too as was the Lord Mayor, Mrs Jacquetta Marshall, Plymouth’s first female Lord Mayor.

It was an impressive occasion and other dignitaries included the Chairman of the Housing Committee, HM Pattinson and representatives of the contractors, AN Coles and the architects Loius de Soissons.  Said Mr Pattinson; “It is well known locally that this has been a very costly venture, but we have learned much from it and we must remember that everything must not be counted in terms of money, but in health and happiness as well.”

Princess Alice, incidentally, was a grand-daughter of Queen Victoria.  Born in 1883, Princess Alice’s father, Prince Leopold, died the following year aged 31.  In 1904 Alice married Alexander of Teck, the first Earl of Athlone, she enjoyed a long full life and finally passed away a few weeks short of her 98th birthday in 1981.

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BAMPFYLDE WAY

As the new Southway estate was being carved from the Parish of Tamerton Foliot so a number of the new street names were taken from the back pages of the area’s history – among them Bampfylde Way.

There are a number of memorials to the Bampfyldes in St Mary’s Church, Tamerton, notably to Margaret, daughter of Hugh Bampfylde.  Margaret died in 1686 and the wording on her stone reads “Her make was too refined for this gross sphere”.

Another, altogether more elaborate memorial commemorates the all too short life of Copleston Bampfylde who died in 1669 – he was just ten years old.  The son of Sir Copleston Bampfylde (name brings together two well-known families) of Poltimore (north of Exeter) and Warleigh his is a much longer inscription, in Latin and Greek, and informs us that the young man was graceful, pure and “studious beyond his years”.

The name Bampfylde appears to come originally from near Poltimore and was recorded as Benefeld in 1306 and probably means “bean” “feld” (a long obsolete word for field).  The erstwhile Bampfylde almshouses that stood near the bottom of Horesham Lane were built in 1827.

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WARSPITE GARDENS

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Warspite Gardens, a quiet cul-de-sac on the new Manadon estate, is named after one of the most famous warships to have been launched at Devonport Dockyard.

It was on 26 November 1913, less than a year before the Great War began, that the Queen Elizabeth-class battleship slipped into the Hamoaze.

In 1916 she was a participant in the Battle of Jutland, it was the first and, as it transpired, the largest engagement in her colourful 34-year career.  Hit fifteen times, she came close to sinking, but survived and managed to limp back to Rosyth and undergo repairs.

Twice refitted between the wars, Warspite was nicknamed ‘The Old Lady’ after a remark made by Admiral Andrew Brown Cunningham (‘ABC’) whose flag she flew in 1943.  She had by then already negotiated the Battle of Narvik, April 1940, Cape Matapan, March 1941 and Crete, May 1941, where she was again hit.  Struck by a German glider bomb during the landings at Solerno, she was once again taken to Rosyth for repairs.  In June 1944 she was deployed at Normandy where she acquired another of her impressive tally of fourteen battle honours.

Sold for scrap in 1947, Warspite, dogged by steering problems ever since Jutland, broke free of her anchor and went aground off Prussia Cove; she was famously scrapped in situ over the next three years.

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Plympton

“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.