The British Empire and its effect on Plymouth

John Foulston

John Foulston was the architect who did so much to build Plymouth, Stonehouse and Devonport up in a neoclassical style in the first half of the Nineteenth Century. In 1811 he won a competition to build a complex of buildings in the city consisting of a hotel, assembly rooms, and a theatre. His success with this important commission established his local reputation, and he moved to Plymouth. So much of Foulston's work has been lost that it is difficult to appreciate its impact, but with the backing of the ambitious mayor Edmund Lockyer he extensively transformed the three towns of Plymouth, Stonehouse and Devonport. He was active not only as an architect, designing a further series of public buildings, stucco-faced terraces in the London manner, and attractive suburban villas, but also as a town planner, responsible for the creation of Union Street, a bold stroke of planning which united the three towns for the first time.

The three towns were investing the proceeds from the extensive prize money that had entered the city as a result of Royal Naval success in the Napoleonic Wars. This unprecedented wealth inspired the city leaders to think ambitiously. And Foulston provided an extraordinary group of buildings erected around Ker Street in Devonport, in 1821-4, an extreme example of the picturesque stylistic eclecticism of the early Nineteenth Century. It consisted of a Greek Doric town hall and commemorative column, a terrace of houses in the Roman Corinthian order and a pair in the Greek Ionic, a 'Hindoo' nonconformist chapel, and an 'Egyptian' library.

Empire in Your Backyard: Plymouth Article | Significant Individuals

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by Stephen Luscombe