The ever-changing environment of Derry’s clock tower in Plymouth

Derry’s clock, which survived the blitz, is one of Plymouth’s most iconic hangouts – but there’s a part of it that never worked

It has survived the test of time, two world wars and multiple city renovation projects. Very few Plymouth landmarks are as iconic as Derry’s clock tower.

For more than 100 years, the British town of Ocean City has evolved around a unique timepiece. It’s been a constant for longer than any current resident of Plymouth can remember.

And yet, there remains a part of the structure that never worked. Do whatever you want with it.

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It was intended, in 1862, as a personal gift, although a little strange perhaps from our point of view, for the Prince of Wales, Albert Edward (the future Edward VII) and Princess Alexarndra Caroline Maria Charlotte Louisa Julia, the daughter of Christian IX of Denmark. The man who made the donation was William Derry, Mayor of Plymouth, hence the name he has enjoyed from that day until today.

Derry was not prepared to fund the whole project, however, and so managed to persuade the local board of health, of which he was chairman, to provide the base and tower on which to mount his clock. The tenuous rational being that the city, at this busy intersection, needed a public fountain for thirsty pedestrians.

In this case, everything went according to plan and on schedule, except that the water fountains never worked. Fortunately, however, the clock has, and for many years has unwittingly served as a popular meeting place as friends and courting couples meet at Derry’s Clock.

Located just outside Foultston’s original Theater Royal, it was also the terminus for a number of bus and tram services, adding to the location’s appeal as a meeting place. A rugged survivor of the blitz and any refit, there have been many suggestions over the years to move the durable watch.

After the Theater Royal opened in 1982, the tower declined in importance, prompting some people to call for the building to be moved to a more open location. This was opposed by others, such as town historian Chris Robinson, who argued that the original location added to the significance of the Grade II listed tower.

He pointed out that such a gesture would no doubt confuse subsequent generations who would look at this collection of images and scratch their heads in bewilderment, especially regarding the earlier images whose only other structure to survive here is the building. of the bank, which was built shortly after the appearance of the clock.

Scroll down to see the tower’s many changing environments. Do you have fond memories that involve the building? Tell us in the comments…

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