You Name It: The Much Maligned Plymouth City Centre
The centre of Plymouth was pretty much obliterated by bombing during the Second World War and the present city centre rebuilt in the 1960's in the modernist style which was in vogue at the time. A lot of people hate Plymouth city centre but personally I actually love it. Despite the concrete monstrosities of the buildings and the ubiquity of the chain stores this is a pleasant, car free zone, constantly monitored by highly visible CCTV cameras and even late at night feels safe to walk through. Some recent modern touches such as the sundial and various artworks break up the sterile 60's architecture, though one thing the planners didn't take into consideration was that when the wind gets up on a damp winter evening it fairly whistles through the boulevards rendering even the most sturdy of umbrellas useless!
What to buy: It's all here - chain store heaven! Website below has everything you need to know.
- Arts and Culture
Plymouth City Centre: High Street Goodies
The city centre of Plymouth is very grey and uninspiring as it was bombed heavily during WW2, so all the buildings are fairly modern. Every high street shop you could imagine is here, which makes Plymouth a wonderful place for shopping, fairly compact and level. A few more individual and unusual shops would be nice though.
There is a multi million pound regeneration of the city centre underway at the moment due to be finished in 2006. Which should improve the look of the city drastically.
For more quirky items I suggest you wander around the Barbicans antique shops & galleries.
- Family Travel
- Women's Travel
Plymouth Farmers Market: Free Lunches! (2nd and 4th Saturdays Only Tho!)
Plymouth's Farmers Market sets up stall on the second and fourth Saturdays of the month bringing a variety of local producers and farmers from the surrounding countryside into the city. There's usually about 25 different stalls ranging from local cheesemakers, rare breed meats, free-range eggs, homemade cakes and bread, pickles and chutneys and even a cider maker.
Many of the stalls offer tasters, especially the chutneys, pickles and cheese, and so a subtle nibble here and nibble there can become a freebie light lunch. For something more substantial there's also a couple of hot pastie stalls and sometimes a roast pork and burger stand (but those you have to pay for!).
- Budget Travel
- Food and Dining
Attraction Shops: Finding Nemo!
As is the norm many of the tourist attractions have their own gift shops such as the National Marine Aquarium, Barbican Glass Centre, Plymouth Gin, Mayflower Centre, Plymouth Museum etc. Where you can find specialised items relating to the attraction. The gift shop at the Mayflower Centre had some good books about Plymouth & history of the area.
Photo is Freya searching for Nemo at the Marine Aquarium shop!
- Women's Travel
- Family Travel
The Tobacco Bar: In Case Of Emergency
Unfortunately due to successive UK governments aggressive taxation policies on tobacco those of us who are invertebrate addicts find it much cheaper to either travel abroad, or to commit criminal offences by buying on the black market, in order to secure our legal drug of choice at affordable prices.
Thus small, owner-run, businesses such as the Tobacco Bar here in Plymouth are becoming fewer and further between.
Personally I usually shop abroad for all my tobacco needs, usually in Belgium where prices are less than a third of that in the UK, but there are times when I run a bit short. When that happens, and I'm somewhere around the Plymouth area, this is the shop I make a bee-line for.
Here they stock a wide range of rolling and pipe tobaccos, as well as cigarettes and cigars, along with the necessary requisites such as lighters, pipes & etc. OK prices are the UK norm but service is always friendly and helpful and for pipe smokers especially some of their own blends are well worth experimenting with.
Great little shop!
- Luxury Travel
The 'New' Pannier Market: Everything You Would Want
This covered market has a little bit of everything, litterally! If you want cd's, books, flowers, bolts of cloth, gifts, clothing, food or anything, it is all under the one roof and at some of the best prices you will find!
What to buy: In this particular place, I would recommend you look out for the picture shop, the photography stall, the numerous books and cd's on offer, and if you are looking to buy gifts for people at home, this is the place to do it.
What to pay: Depends on what you want, but if it is expensive here, then it is extortionate everywhere else.
- Budget Travel
The Barbican Glassworks: Watching the Glassblowing
This shop sells Glass ornaments, tools and everything else you would care to mention. The good thing about this place is that it is possible to walk into the workshopand watch them at work, making what is on offer. There is also a great deal of information on the art of glassblowing available. This place is not so much a business as it is a cultural workshop because I asked them for some repairs on a glass item and they did not charge anything, just glad to help. This is the best way to describe the feel of this shop.
What to buy: Great for presents or a little reminder of your journey down to Plymouth. The only problem is that getting Glass anywhere without breaking is very difficult.
What to pay: Still not too expensive, I would consider it an expensive shop in the Plymouth area.
Plymouth Christmas Market: November and December
The Plymouth Christmas Market sells an array of Devon’s finest craftwork and produce, visitors can also be entertained by carol singers, dance troupes, jazz bands and a barbershop chorus all helping to create a really festive atmosphere. An added bonus is a family of real, live reindeer.
Annually, usually from around third week in November to December 24.
Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday: 9:00 am to 6:00 pm
Thursday and Friday: 9:00 am to 8:00 pm
Sunday: 10:30 am to 4:30 pm
What to buy: Wooden chalets sell traditional Victorian-style fayre including a host of tasty treats and original, quality, handmade and homemade arts and crafts and gift ideas for all the family. Look out also for roasted chestnuts and mulled wine, ceramic pots, wooden baskets, slate clocks, headgear and children’s clothes.
What to pay: Various
Drake Circus: The new DRAKE CIRCUS shopping centre
Huge shopping centre.
Has all the big name brand shops
NEXT, Billabong, Millets, Starbucks, H&M, Waterstones
What to buy: Mens clothes, womens clothes, childrens clothes, books, videos, dvds, music
What to pay: Its quite expensive.
Especially waterstones, there are alternative book shops on the main high street.
Pannier Market and The Independent Quarter: Off The Beaten Path!
Whilst most of the concrete behomoth of Plymouth city centre is totally dominated by branches of national and multi-national chain stores, banks, restaurants et al, it is only a short walk west on New George Street to The Independent Quarter (motto - "IQ - The clever place to shop").
The Independent Quarter centres around the vibrant and diverse Pannier Market, with its three-quarters of an acre of dome-roofed floor space, and extends to the neighbouring Cornwall Street and Frankfort Gate. Between the market and the surrounding small shops you can generally find anything you need in the way of "portable shopping" - from fresh food market stalls featuring local produce to knowledgeable independent computer shops, all with genuinely helpful, friendly service.
What to buy: As a quick (but by no means complete) list: Arts and crafts; Bags and accessories, Butchers; Computers both new and second-hand; Computer games and parts; Delicatessen and Bakery; Electrical goods and components; Fabrics and fashion; Fishmongers; Florists; Footwear; Greengrocers; Health and beauty; Jewellers and engravers; Music, film and books (new and used); Sports and liesure; Toys .....Yep, the list is almost endless and not a "High Street Name" amongst them!!
What to pay: Whatever, but usually cheaper than The High Street.
- Budget Travel
Barbican Bookshops.: Plymouth's real book shops.
Within Drake Circus you have the chain book stores, such as Waterstones.
However the places to go for some second hand/rare books are located on the Barbican.
Wander through the barbican looking up side streets and you'll stumble across some great bookstores.
I regularly visit one in particular, located near the bridge to the Aquarium and the Tourist Centre.
As you wander through it's doors, you are surrounded by PILES of books, some in no particular order, but each unique.
This is the place to go for Crime 1st editions.
They also have hundreds of used/rare history texts.
Give it a look!
What to buy: Second Hand and Rare Books
What to pay: Barter!
They're pretty reasonable.
- Budget Travel
Plymouth City Centre
This isn't a specific shop, but rather the main shopping area of Plymouth. Here you will find a small selection of your typical High Street stores, including Debenhams & Dingles, Marks & Spencers, River Island, Topshop, HMV & Virgin, Boots, numerous sports shops, all major banks and building societies, a selection of travel agents, charity shops, cafes etc. All of this is to be found in a large pedestrianised area, with multi-storey car parks around the edges and it is within easy walking distance of Plymouth train station and Bretonside bus station.
Virgin Megastore: Virgin Megastore
The shop is set on two floors and is very open and spacious.
What to buy: You can buy anything from cds, computer games, dvds, videos, books and more.
We bought some games, dvds and cds.
to be continued.
What to pay: All the things we bought were £9.99 in the sale.
It`s not too big a shop but the walls were lined with hundreds of games, there were also a few stands in the middle of the room with more games.
What to buy: All genres of games can be bought here.
What to pay: Anything from about £5 upto about £40.
I think Plymouth is great for shopping. There are sooo many shops, you spend way too much money there. I always ended up buying too much.
- Family Travel