Its original design
The design in 1928 was executed by the acclaimed landscape architects, Thomas Mawson and Sons. It says a lot that Plymouth Corporation engaged the country’s leading designer for their new park, and it clearly shows they wanted it to be the best.
The park’s topography
Its undulating contours provide landscape interest in a way that is more usually found in country parks. It would be hard to beat Plymouth’s Central Park for the intimacy of its rolling landscape and its position in the middle of the city.
The path network is incomplete but those made by Mawson provide gentle ascents across difficult terrain as well as long views to the city and the sea.
Traditional Devon-style hedges dating from the 18th century or earlier bring biodiversity and other benefits into the heart of a busy city. They divide the park into ‘outdoor rooms’ and make it possible to accommodate different uses in each.
The main paths are framed with historic tree avenues. There are several rare specimen trees in the grounds of Pounds House whilst, elsewhere, ancient oaks and ashes survive from the park’s previous use as farmland.
Pounds House is a grade 2 listed Georgian villa and, although presently vacant, it could still provide a fine centrepiece for the northern part of the park as always intended.
It has survived!
Not yet 100 years old, the park has seen a huge number of changes – many more than should be expected. Buildings have been erected and demolished, streams and watercourses have been culverted, soil and rubble have been spread everywhere, playgrounds have come and gone, land has been taken for other uses and trees have been planted at random. Even today, there is no holistic guiding vision so it is remarkable that Plymouth has a park this good in the heart of the city. But just imagine what it could be like!