Drake's Place Gardens and Reservoir

The role of water in the health of the city of Plymouth will be celebrated at a community event at Plymouth University on Friday 10 July.

Local people and visitors to the city are invited to enjoy entertainment including Elizabethan and Victorian strolling players, tours, storytelling, traditional games and creative activities at Drake’s Place Gardens and Reservoir on the University campus from 12.30pm to 3.30pm.

There will be live music from Toute Ensemble, a group of nine musicians playing early instruments including recorders, windcaps (crumhorns, cornamusen, cortols), shawms, small pipes, sackbut, harp and lutes.

Artwork by Plymouth schoolchildren will be on display in Drake’s Place colonnade, and the winners of a schools competition – held at the Science and Technology Showcase at the University on 16 and 17 June – will be presented with their prizes.

Sir Francis Drake (c.1540 - c.1596) is credited with bringing the first reliable supply of clean water to the city with the construction of Drake’s Leat in 1591 – a 28km waterway which brought water to Plymouth from the River Meavy on Dartmoor for more than 300 years.

Drake’s Reservoir, originally built in 1825, served as the main source of water for the city before Burrator Reservoir was officially opened in 1898.

Water from Burrator Reservoir is now treated at South West Water’s Crownhill Water Treatment Works – soon to be replaced with a state-of-the-art new works to meet the needs of the city’s growing population.

Every year, civic dignitaries and guests gather at Burrator Reservoir to mark the ‘Traditional Survey of the Waterworks and Fishing Feast’. The historic ceremony, believed to be one of the oldest in the UK, is organised and hosted jointly by Plymouth City Council, South West Water and Plymouth University. 

That event is taking place in the morning of Friday 10 July, and this is the first time it will be followed by a public celebration.

Professor David Coslett, Interim Vice-Chancellor of Plymouth University, said:

“We are delighted to continue our association with this traditional annual celebration, and particularly pleased to be hosting the community event in the Drake’s Place Gardens and Reservoir. Completed a year ago, their ambitious restoration has created a wonderful venue for all kinds of events right in the heart of our city. It is a fitting tribute to Drake’s spirit of innovation and ingenuity, and this is an opportunity for people to come on in and see why it is already being well used by staff, students and the wider community.”

Chris Loughlin, Chief Executive of South West Water, said:

“This historic tradition is an opportunity to celebrate the past, present and future of Plymouth, its water supply and its reputation as a centre of enterprise and ingenuity. It is fantastic to be able to involve the local community in the celebrations for the first time.”

Lord Mayor of Plymouth, Councillor Dr John Mahony, said:

“This has always been a really interesting event and I’m really pleased that we’ll be celebrating in a new way which means everyone can join in. There’ll be a lot going on and it promises to be a great day. ”

History of Drake's Place

Discover the history of Plymouth's beautifully restored gardens and reservoir.

Drake's Place in 1910. Credit: Plymouth City Museum