This film is part of Free

The Reconstruction of Plymouth

A public works programme enacts the Plan for Plymouth penned by Patrick Abercrombie in 1943 following heavy devastation by air raids.

Amateur film 1951 11 mins Silent

From the collection of:

Logo for South West Film and Television Archive


A Plan for Plymouth and its approval by the City Council in 1943 led to reconstruction from 1947 to 1951. Plymouth was one of the first British cities to engage in wide scale rebuilding after the Second World War and such an avant-garde decision led to a modernist pedestrianised city centre with sweeping open spaces leading to the waterfront and the Hoe. The legacy is still enjoyed by Plymothians today whose city enjoys nine miles of seafront and forms part of the SW Coast Path.

Patrick Abercrombie was knighted in 1945 for his services to town planning. His plans for London, Greater London, Hull and Bath came to fruition and he is credited with inspiring the New Towns movement. He set about rebuilding Plymouth with the City Engineer James Paton Watson. This film shows the works in the city centre around St. Andrew’s Church and the Guildhall, Royal Parade, with new buildings in white Portland stone including Dingles department store. The high rise is to be the Civic Centre whose foundations may also be seen. This is Plymouth’s version of The Proud City - a Plan for London 1945 made by the Ministry of Information. It reveals a Plymouth in motion and how the city really did rise again.