Plymouth
Population:
244,783
Area: 79.78 kmē 

Plymouth is a city in the southwest of England, or alternatively the Westcountry, and is situated within the traditional county of Devon. It is located at the mouths of the rivers Plym and Tamar and at the head of one of the world's largest and most spectacular natural harbours, the Plymouth Sound. The city has a rich maritime past and was once one of the two most important Royal Navy bases in the United Kingdom, a factor that made the city a prime target of the Luftwaffe during the Second World War. After the destruction of the dockyards and city centre in the blitz of 1941, Plymouth was rebuilt under the guidance of architect Patrick Abercrombie and is now one of the few remaining naval dockyards in the United Kingdom and the largest naval base in Western Europe. Important locations in the city include The Royal Citadel, Devonport Dockyard and The Barbican from where the Pilgrims left for the New World in 1620.

People born in Plymouth are known as Plymothians or less formally as Janners. In the Royal Navy, "Guzz" is a nickname for Devonport, from its original radio callsign.

The earliest known settlement in Plymouth dates back to 1000 BC with a small iron age trading port located at Mount Batten in Plymstock. It is thought that tin was brought here from Dartmoor via the Plym and traded with the ancient Phoenicians. As part of the Roman Empire this same port continued to trade tin along with cattle and hides. The small port was later overshadowed by the rise of the fishing village of Sutton, whose name means 'south town'.

At the time of the Domesday Book (1086) the manor of Sutton was held by the King, but Henry I granted it to the Valletort family whose local powerbase was at nearby Trematon Castle. The Valletorts in turn granted parts to the Augustinian priory at Plympton, a larger and older settlement than Plymouth at the head of the tidal estuary of the river Plym.

That part of the town owned by Plympton Priory was granted a market charter in 1254, and the whole town and its surrounding area achieved municipal independence in 1439, becoming the first town to be incorporated by Act of Parliament English Parliament. As the higher parts of the Plym estuary silted up, ships used the port at the Plym's mouth instead of Plympton. And so, the name of the town of Sutton slowly became Plymouth instead, but the name 'Sutton' still resonates in the area, for example in the naming of its old harbour.

In 1403, the town was briefly occupied and burnt by the French, especially the Bretons. Indeed, the town was often the target of enemies across the channel, especially during the Hundred Years' War. Plymouth had a castle at the mouth of Sutton Pool, as well as barricades across the seafront on the Hoe, but all of these have either been demolished or built upon by later fortifications dating to the Tudor and Stuart eras.

During the sixteenth century, Plymouth was the home port for many successful maritime traders, including Sir William Hawkins (or Hawkyns) and his son Sir John Hawkins, who defied the Treaty of Tordesillas. It was Sir William Hawkins who led the first English participation in the triangle trade. In 1562 Sir John Hawkins, with the full support of Queen Elizabeth I, led England's first foray into the slave trade, kidnapping hundreds of women and men from Sierra Leone and elsewhere in West Africa to trade in the Spanish colonies in the Americas.

As an Atlantic port Plymouth has seen the arrival and departure of many historical figures in English history. Catherine of Aragon and Pocahontas both arrived in England via the port in 1501 and 1616 respectively. It was also from Plymouth that the Pilgrims sailed to the New World in 1620 aboard the Mayflower before landing at and founding the "Plymouth Colony". Napolean Bonaparte was brought to Plymouth aboard the HMS Bellerophon which remained on the Plymouth Sound for two weeks before his exile to Saint Helena in 1815 and the surviving crew of the RMS Titanic disaster disembarked at Millbay docks on their return to England in 1912.

On 14 December 1810, Plymouth was struck by the strongest tornado yet reported in the UK (as of August 2005), with a T8 rating on the TORRO scale, and a wind speed of 213 to 240 mph. [citation needed]

Most visitors to Plymouth are drawn to the spectacular Plymouth Hoe, a stretch of greensward on Plymouth Limestone (Devonian) low cliffs, overlooking Plymouth Sound; it is believed that this is the place where Sir Francis Drake completed his game of bowls before setting sail to defeat the Spanish Armada.