What is our project?, and what does it focus on?

The projects main focus is on the history of the iconic Plymouth breakwater. The breakwater guards the entrance to Plymouth harbour; it sits just under a mile off shore and is nearly a mile long. It is visible from all the sea front sites in Plymouth and it an intricate and integral part of the port. 2013 sees the 200 year anniversary of being able to see the first stones appear above the water line; it is therefore a fantastic time to celebrate the impact of the breakwater on the people of Plymouth and how it has shaped the city.

The project will examine why there was a need for a breakwater; how the structure came about; how it was built and what impact it had, and still has, on the lives of the people of Plymouth. The project will also focus on the impact of the breakwater on those involved with maritime industry in the city, ranging from the large Naval presence to the leisure industry.

In addition to exploring these questions with the young people we are also keen to leave a legacy from this research. The club will therefore compile a resource which will consist of a website, exhibition, a schools pack, and some learning tools that local organisations can access and share our findings.

What will we do?

The Plymouth Breakwater Project will enable young people from the city to examine the history and impact of this iconic structure on the lives of the people of Plymouth.

Young people will fully research the history of the structure, including how and why it was built; the impact on the local landscape (much of the rock used was quarried around the Plymstock area, where the club is based); the impact on local people who built the structure (many workers lost their lives during the building process); the legacy of the structure; the impact upon the development and evolution of the city of Plymouth; and how the structure feeds into the local economic and cultural landscape of the city today.

The young people will liaise and engage with a variety of experts across the city to build a picture of the history of the Breakwater. This will include the Outdoor Learning Officer of Plymouth and West Devon Records Office to discover how their research can be informed by the city’s archive collections; undertaking research at the city’s local and maritime studies library; and linking with local experts in quarrying and construction. The young people will also interview and record the stories of a range of people whose lives are affected by the sea and the Breakwater. These would include a wide variety of people from local maritime community e.g. boat-builders, the Royal Navy, pleasure boat operators and local fishermen.

Young people working on the project will get the chance to study the Breakwater first hand by utilizing Plymouth Youth Sailings access to the water and expertise in sailing and maritime pursuits. This will afford the young people with an opportunity to get first-hand experience and understanding of how the Breakwater impacts upon the city today.

The young people will use their research to design and construct an informative resource, in the form of information on this website, and an educational resource that can be used by local schools, colleges and the wider community.

The Aims

  • To chart the history of the building of the Plymouth Breakwater and its impact upon the city of Plymouth
  • To look at how and what equipment used for the construction and maintenance of the Breakwater, and whether this has changed over the last 200 years.
  • To increase the knowledge, understanding and raise awareness of local people of the historical relevance of the Plymouth breakwater
  • To increase the knowledge of the historical relevant of the Plymouth breakwater and how it has shaped the port of the young people involved in the project
  • To enable the young people to develop research skills, collating skills, ICT skills  whilst working on the project which they can use in other areas of their studies
  • To create a touring exhibition for use across community spaces in the city and beyond
  • To create educational resource linked to the national curriculum that other young people and schools can freely and easily access
  • To celebrate the young people’s successes, where the young people can share their experiences and be proud of the qualifications and skills they gain
  • To enable young people to work and communicate with people of all ages and backgrounds whilst research the breakwater
    PYS heritage breakwater project

    PYS heritage breakwater project

    Breakwater2landscape blue logo