The development work for Plymouth’s new £37 million history centre project, The Box, is under way. But what does this transformational and ambitious project mean for the city – and the University campus in which it effectively sits?
On the wall of St Luke’s Church overlooking Tavistock Place is a distinctive outdoor pulpit. Installed in 1913, it was once used by clergymen to take their sermons to the street, preaching to the passers-by and the passengers on the trams that rattled along what was then the arterial route to the north.
More than a century later, St Luke’s is hived off behind the hoardings that herald the development of the city’s new history centre, The Box. But that legacy of performance is set to find a new stage in the form of a piazza that will be home to street artists and musicians, and the ethos of the project itself, which promises to reach out to the wider city through a network of historical sites.
“What is distinctive about The Box is the spirit of connection,” says Professor Dafydd Moore, Executive Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Humanities, and the University’s lead representative on the project. “It is about moving people, mentally and physically, to other places such as Smeaton’s Tower or the Elizabethan House. It is about allowing Plymothians to reconnect with the history of their city as a whole, and allowing visitors to make sense of the rich historical landscape they are visiting when they spend time in Plymouth.”