Drake's Place
A place to unwind, refuel, play table tennis or just let off steam. 
Beautifully restored to its former glory, Drake’s Place is an award-winning community space offering a calm and relaxing oasis amidst the whirl of urban living. It is an accessible, welcoming haven and a safe diverse habitat for wildlife that has won the Green Flag award every year since 2015.
The gardens and reservoir are open during daylight hours.

Drake's Place history

Drake’s Place Gardens and Reservoir have a rich history, having been an integral part of Plymouth life for a very long time.
In 1592, Plymouth built a 28km channel running through Drake’s Place, carrying water to the city from Dartmoor. This became known as Drake’s Leat after Sir Francis Drake, who oversaw the construction. Drake’s Leat supplied water to the townspeople through conduit houses around the town. The remains of two of these, the Old Town Conduit and the Higher Mills Conduit, are preserved in the walls of the reservoir.
The reservoir, built in 1825 and extended in 1828, was the main source of water for the town before new reservoirs were built at Hartley and Burrator.
Drake’s Mill stood in the gardens once too, supplying the town with flour. In the 1880s the mills were demolished, replaced by grand new gardens which opened in 1891 as a tribute to Sir Francis Drake. 
These featured a broad promenade along the dam of the reservoir, above a colonnade overlooking the gardens. Granite columns from Plymouth’s old market were incorporated into the colonnade.
The reservoir went out of use in the 1970s, gradually becoming derelict.
In 2007, University of Plymouth took over the lease for the gardens and reservoir from Plymouth City Council, investing £300,000 to make the gardens more attractive and secure. We opened the restoration to the public in June 2014, bringing the gardens back to their former glory. We also opened the Reservoir Cafe in the Nancy Astor Building, giving you somewhere to enjoy a drink, a bite to eat, and the scenery.
The £1.2 million project to restore Drake's Place was supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Big Lottery Fund.

The key architectural features of Drake’s Place Reservoir and Gardens are:

Drake’s Leat (1591)
It was decided that the River Meavy and its surrounding watershed provided the ideal source for the Leat. A Water Bill was submitted to Parliament in 1584 and was passed into the hands of a committee chaired by Sir Francis Drake. The Bill received the Royal Assent on March 29 1585 and, following delays caused by war with Spain, construction of the Leat began in 1589.
The Old Town Conduit (1598)
From 1592 onwards public 'conduits' were constructed to supply the water free of charge to the population. One of the conduits that supplied water to the residents of Plymouth, the Old Town Street Conduit, is preserved in the east wall of Drake's Place Reservoir where a drinking fountain was constructed in 1874.
The Morshead Conduit (1754)
Another conduit, built in the mayoralty of John Morshead in 1754, is built into the 1891 watch house. The conduit house, with its distinctive ‘spire’, is in its original position, with the 1891 watch house has built around it.
The South Reservoir (1825) and North Reservoir (1828)
The inscriptions on the east elevation of the reservoir, facing the street pavement of North Hill, record the dates of construction on both reservoirs. Two fountains were installed in the reservoir, probably in 1891. These fell out of use from 1980 but were restored to working order in 2014.
The Drinking Fountain (1874)
The Drinking Fountain is sited on the east side of the reservoir, fronting the street pavement of North Hill. Erected 1874, it used to offer passers-by and horses a facility to drink fresh water from the reservoir. It is part of an elaborate structure preserving parts of the Old Town Street Conduit.
The Colonnade (1891)
The builders of the colonnade have re-used 31 granite columns salvaged from an older building, reputed to be Plymouth’s market.
The Tower (1891)
The Tower, also constructed in 1891, served as a toilet and wash-house for the reservoir staff who would safeguard the reservoir against pollution while maintaining the gardens to a high standard.
The Cascade (1891)
Part of the garden landscaping of 1891, the Cascade formed a central feature, sending water from the reservoir down to the course of Drake’s Leat.
Drake’s Place Gardens (1891)
Mills for grinding corn and bone stood on the site of Drake’s Place Gardens until the 1870s. The mills were demolished to make way for the landscaping of Drake’s Place Gardens and the construction of the colonnade fronting the South Reservoir.
Drakes Place

Use Drake's Place for Teaching and Learning

Drake's Place is our University campus, Green Flag Award winning park.
The space features a promenade and lawn with trees, shrubs and flowers.
Enquire for both University and external activities by emailing drakesplace@plymouth.ac.uk 

Free table tennis

Rent free rackets and balls for use on the tables in Drake's Place Gardens
The tables are located under the sheltering arches of the colonnade – so no need to let the weather stop you!
Ask a member of staff at Reservoir Cafe to lend you this equipment.
Drake's Place Gardens - table tennis table