Drake’s Place Gardens and Reservoir

Designation:
All on Devon Gazetteer
Type:
  • Victorian
Period/Century:
  • C19
Local Authority:
Plymouth
Description:

Drake’s Place Gardens and Reservoir is a small but significant historic public open space located on North Hill, in the northeast corner of the Plymouth University campus in central Plymouth. Drake’s Place is a relatively unaltered example of a small Victorian park, which made a feature out of the highly engineered reservoir by adding fountains, ornamental railings and a loggia (or colonnade) supporting a promenade.
Drake’s Place is an important monument to the water supply of Plymouth, fed since the C16 by leats from Dartmoor. Drake’s Place is on the site of Drake’s Mills, which were fed by Drake’s Leat, a conduit or watercourse, built to supply to Plymouth with water. Built in the sixteenth century, Drake’s Leat was a 17.5 miles long, constructed to tap the River Meavy on Dartmoor.
The reservoir is an 1891 reconstruction of two reservoirs constructed in the 1820s. All three are significant examples of nineteenth century civil engineering and also part of the town’s historic water supply system. The gardens retain what survives of an Edwardian landscape design and planting by the nationally renowned nursery, Treseder and Co. of Truro. 
The Loggia, tower, and ornamental fountain with associated boundary walls and railings,were built to commemorate the importance of the creation of the city leats and as part of a small public park centred around the reservoir. Part of granite inscription dated 1598, 1754 construction on site of the 1617 conduit (Drake's Leat)
Drake’s Place is owned by Plymouth City Council and leased to Plymouth University. Since the University took over the management of Drake’s Place in 2007, the maintenance and security of the site has improved and the popularity of the gardens has increased.

 

References

The Buildings of England: Cherry and Pevsner P: Devon:: 1989-: 669