About the Book
During World War II, Plymouth earned the distinction as the most bombed city outside London. But it was planners not bombers which destroyed most of the history of the city. Few traces remain of the Plymouth's best known sons, Drake and Hawkins. By the 19th century, houses built by Elizabethan merchants had deteriorated into the worst slums in Europe, second only to Warsaw. The population of Plymouth, Devonport and Stonehouse quadrupled between 1800 and 1840, and whole families were forced to live in tiny windowless rooms. In Castle Street there was a pub every ten metres and every pub was said to be a brothel. Damnation Alley, as Castle Street was dubbed, was the haunt of thousands of soldiers and sailors who passed through en route to serve the British Empire. Thanks to the military, the 'Three Towns' earned a reputation as the VD capital of Britain, and the city's women were subject to repressive legislation if they went out at night. Plymouth's lost history includes the first man to sail round the world in both directions; the shocking image which helped end the slave trade; the first convicts bound for Botany Bay; and the man who navigated over 3,000 miles in an open boat with only the stars to guide him.