How does the breakwater affect Plymouth? and what do people think about it?

We know that Plymouth would be very different without the breakwater

Would the navy still be here? We asked the Deputy Queens Harbour master, he said “not sure, but with places like Weymouth available, the navy might have gone there”

From a major diving publication

“One of the first things to catch the eye as you look out over Plymouth Sound is the breakwater. At first glance it might not seem a very remarkable structure, but without is Plymouth would not have a Naval base and without that, Plymouth would not be the thriving city that it is today. So although unremarkable, the breakwater has been very important in the development of Plymouth and it also has the distinction of being one of the very first free standing breakwaters ever built. But Plymouth did not always have a breakwater and although the Sound offered protection from the prevailing winds, southerly gales could often turn it into a deathtrap.”

If the Navy had gone, then maybe the town might not have been city? Would a University have come to Plymouth?

Without the shelter of the breakwater, would there have been a large marine industry, would as many large sailing events come here?

We spoke to a diving centre owner he said “ having the breakwater give him options to keep his clients diving, in more different types of weather unlike Torquay” his clients come from all over the country they know that if the weather is bad there will options still available.

We spoke to a Marina manger he said “without the breakwater only half the number of boats would be moored here, millions less spent in Plymouth”

We spoke to a local councillor he said “I don’t think the Navy would be here, or Marine Projects (they build Princess power boats), I am not even sure about the University, we have thank the breakwater for turning us into a big city”


When we did our display at the events, we conducted a survey with the people who came to the stand, we asked several questions

What does the breakwater mean to you?

Has the breakwater helped you?

Is the breakwater important to the people of Plymouth?

We asked 159 people

101 male, 58 female

112 over 21yrs old, 47 between the ages of 11-21yrs old

We did not take people’s names or addresses, we thought they might not want to do the survey if we ask too much

1, What does the breakwater mean to you?

Nothing 73%, It’s nice to look at 12%, helps me with my job 6%, it means I can go sailing 7%, what breakwater? 2%

“Nothing” was mostly the young people, “what breakwater” was all youngest people, “its nice to look at” were some adults and children, “helps me with my job” and it “means I can go sailing” were all adults.

2, Has the breakwater helped you?

No 90%   Yes 10%

When we did explain about the history of the breakwater, there answers did change though. All the under 21yrs people answered no. it was the older people who answered yes

2, Is the breakwater important to the people of Plymouth?

73% No   27% Yes

Some of the no answers were; “we don’t need it with modern technology” “what does it do?” “It’s just a brick wall in the sea”, “we don’t need it anymore the navy’s going”

Some of the yes answers were; “it brings in tourists” “it has made Plymouth”, “less diving if it wasn’t here therefore less money”, “we can have sailing events with it”


Plymouth University has a ship simulator, they use this to train ships captains. We went there to see what Plymouth would be like without a breakwater, coming in and out. The people that showed us around said if the breakwater wasn’t there then there would not be a marine trade in Plymouth. After practising the route in and out, we found that the route would have been still be close to what it is now, as the breakwater was built on some shallow areas which the big ships still would not have wanted to go over.

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You tube video from PCC about the breakwater