OLD TOWN STREET
21 September 2011
of Old Town Street, Plymouth
Old Town Street ran northwards from the
eastern end of Bedford Street, opposite
Saint Andrew's Church, to the junction with Duke Street, after
which became Tavistock Road. The part from
Old Town Gate to
Tavistock Road was formerly known as Tavistock Street.
Origin of the name, Old Town Street
What later became
Old Town Street is shown as simply "Old Town" on Benjamin Donn's plan of 1765 (below). It has always been
claimed that the name is derived from the fact that the centre of
the Town of Plymouth, where it held it's markets, was the area
around Saint Andrew's Church.
The Shambles, or Market, is shown in the middle of the Street and is
clearly named as such on Richard Cowl's 1778 Map of Plymouth
Old Town Street, Plymouth
As Donn's plan of Plymouth in 1765
shows, Old Town lead northwards from
Saint Andrew's Church to the
Town Gate, outside of which the road split into routes to Saltash
and Tavistock. 
Although shown as just Old Town on Cooke's map of 1827  it
was already listed as Old Town Street in 1812
. Tavistock Street was listed separately. The area
outside the Gate was known as
Old Town Without (the Wall).
The section between the junctions with
Treville Street and
Saltash Street was the boundary between the parishes of
Older residents will
recall that traffic in Old Town Street was one-way in a northerly direction
between the junction with Old Town Avenue and Tavistock Road. This was
apparently introduced during 1926 as it was mention in the report of
the introduction of Plymouth's second one-way street in January 1927.
Plymouth's first set of traffic
lights was installed at the junction with
Treville Street in
September 1929. 
Plans were announced on
March 16th 1936 for new frontages to the properties on the eastern side of
the Street. 
The section of Old Town Street between Old
Town Avenue and Saint Andrew's Cross was flattened by high explosive bombs and
incendiaries during the night air raid of
Thursday March 20th/Friday March
21st 1941. 
One of the few buildings
to survive that onslaught was the Bedford Wine & Spirit Vaults at number 36.
Built of local limestone, it had been a venue for carriers until the 1930s
and and was the only public house with stables and a walled garden in
Plymouth to survive the Blitz. The landlord for some 23 years had been
Mr Tom Elliott. 
Old Town Street was rebuilt in the 1950s, when it was still on the main
route to Tavistock. Following the demolition of Drake Circus in the 1970s, it was
largely lost beneath the shopping development. Today only the southern end survives,
from Norwich Union House, pictured below, up as far as Boot's the chemist,
where it now enters the new Drake Circus Shopping Mall.
Some Views of
Old Town Street, Plymouth
Street, Plymouth, looking northwards towards Drake Circus.
Old Town Street, Plymouth, looking
The blitzed Old Tow Street, Plymouth.
S M Green.
The Auxiliary Fire Serviced in action
in Old Town Street, Plymouth,
during the Blitz.
Dermot P Fitzgerald.
A view across the remains of the
Municipal Offices to Old Town Street after the Second World War.
remaining part of the rebuilt Old Town Street,
Plymouth, is that adjoining St Andrew's Cross.
Occupants of Old Town
Richard, "Map of Plymouth", Plymouth & West Devon Record Office,
Plymouth, accession number 157 or PH/435/1.
Benjamin, "A Map of the County of Devon 1765", facsimile, Devon
and Cornwall Record Society and the University of Exeter,
"Cooke's Stranger's Guide or Pocket Plan of the Three Towns of
Plymouth, Devonport, and Stonehouse", Published October 1st 1827
by John Cooke, 82 Union Street, Stonehouse, Plymouth, 1827.
Picture of Plymouth", Rees and Curtis, Plymouth, 1812.
 "Another One-Way Street:
Solving Traffic Problem", Western Morning News, Plymouth,
February 1st 1927.
Plymouth City Council minute number 3716 dated September 25th 1929.
Western Evening Herald, Plymouth, March 16th 1936.
Cock, R F E, "Plymouth Blitz: Story and Pictures", Western
Independent, Plymouth, not dated but circa 1942.
Western Independent, Plymouth, November 22nd 1964.