Family Outings: Plymouth Dome

Sail away to the days of Drake


The venue

The venue

Plymouth Dome is a collection of themed galleries that take you on a walk through time, retelling the history of the city and its intimate relationship with the sea. A series of bright and breezy galleries ranges from entertaining mock-ups of the bridge of an ocean liner to more studious, science-based displays looking in detail at the ocean currents that flow around the city. The two-storey building has a wonderful location, just below Smeaton's Tower, Plymouth's red-and-white-striped landmark lighthouse. It is snugly built into the natural contours of Plymouth Hoe, the coastal strip that runs along the southern edge of the city, overlooking Plymouth Sound and surrounded by monuments testifying to this seafaring history, from Drake to the Falklands. The dome (on a much smaller scale than its benighted London namesake) covers the foyer.

Something for children

Kids will probably linger longest over the foyer and the first exhibits. In the former is a computer-based virtual tour of Plymouth with fixed cameras giving live pictures of the waters around the city. Then take them to the first gallery, a mock-up of a street from the docks in Elizabethan times. It's dark, dingy and smelly and one display involves a 16th-century servant emptying a chamber pot on to the street below. There are also plenty of waxwork figures of famous seafarers that should shiver the timbers of the little ones. They will find plenty of buttons to push on the satellite and radar monitoring observation deck, which has current images of weather and harbour activity.

Something for adults

Head for the observation gallery, which gives panoramic views over Plymouth Sound, with Devon to your left, Cornwall on your right, Drake's Island in the foreground and, on a clear day, Eddystone lighthouse 14 miles distant on the horizon. The gallery is full of detail about the extraordinary voyages that began from Plymouth, including Drake's on the Golden Hind, Darwin's aboard the Beagle, Cook's on the Endeavour and the Pilgrim Fathers'. You can learn more from a series of short films about the voyages shown in a cinema built in the shape of a 17th-century galleon. There is also a gripping film on Plymouth's ordeal during the Blitz.

Refreshments

The Dolphin café offers pasties, cakes and rather tired-looking sandwiches. You can eat in the foyer, where there are some pleasant tables overlooking Plymouth Sound. On a sunny day you can probably do better by heading along the Hoe and choosing one of the outdoor cafés, which have a good range of food, from cheesy chips to tiger-prawn stir-fries and lattes.

Souvenirs

Inevitably, you can buy a set of Drake's bowls (£14.99). There are also plenty of pens and stationery on a fishy theme, clotted-cream biscuits (this is Devon) and good local history books.

Admission and access

Plymouth Dome attracts 60,000 visitors a year, with large numbers during the summer holidays.

Open daily, 10am to 5pm.

Admission: Adults £4.75; children over five £3.25; family ticket (two adults, two children) £13. Smeaton's Tower is an extra £2.25 for adults, £1.25 for children. The museum is fully accessible for wheelchair users, and there is disabled parking outside the entrance.

How to get there

Plymouth Dome, The Hoe, Plymouth PL1 2NZ (01752 603300; www.plymouthdome.info).

Take the M5 to Exeter then the A38 to the south of Dartmoor. As you enter Plymouth, follow signs for the Hoe. There is on-street parking near the museum.

There are frequent daily train services to Plymouth from London, the Midlands and the North. For details, call 08457-48 49 50. The train station is a 20-minute walk from the Dome. Or take bus 25 from the city centre.

News
i100
News
Astronauts could be kept asleep for days or even weeks
scienceScientists are looking for a way to keep astronauts in a sleeplike state for days or weeks
Sport
Fabian Delph celebrates his goal
footballChristian Benteke and Fabian Delph turn semi-final after Liverpool goal
Life and Style
Model wears: top £29.50, leggings £25, jacket £29.50, bag £25, all marksandspencer.com
fashion
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
The new-look Top of the Pops could see Fearne Cotton returns as a host alongside Dermot O'Leary
music
Arts and Entertainment
Lou Reed distorted the truth about his upbringing, and since his death in 2013, biographers and memoirists have added to the myths
musicThe truth about Lou Reed's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths
News
people
News
Ed Miliband received a warm welcome in Chester
election 2015
Life and Style
Apple CEO Tim Cook announces the Apple Watch during an Apple special even
fashionIs the Apple Watch for you? Well, it depends if you want it for the fitness tech, or for the style
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Recruitment Genius: Bid / Tender Writing Executive

    £24000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: With offices in Manchester, Lon...

    Guru Careers: Marketing Executives / Marketing Communications Consultants

    Competitive (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a number of Marketi...

    Recruitment Genius: Marketing Executive

    £20000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This well established business ...

    Ashdown Group: Management Accountant - Manchester

    £25000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Management Accountant - Manchester...

    Day In a Page

    Armenian genocide: To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie

    Armenian genocide and the 'good Turks'

    To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie
    Lou Reed: The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths

    'Lou needed care, but what he got was ECT'

    The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond
    Migrant boat disaster: This human tragedy has been brewing for four years and EU states can't say they were not warned

    This human tragedy has been brewing for years

    EU states can't say they were not warned
    Women's sportswear: From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help

    Women's sportswear

    From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help
    Hillary Clinton's outfits will be as important as her policies in her presidential bid

    Clinton's clothes

    Like it or not, her outfits will be as important as her policies
    NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

    Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

    A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
    Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

    Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

    The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
    How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

    How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

    Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
    From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

    The wars that come back to haunt us

    David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
    Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

    Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

    A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
    Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

    UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

    Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
    John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

    ‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

    Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
    Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

    Let the propaganda wars begin - again

    'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

    Japan's incredible long-distance runners

    Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
    Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

    Tom Drury: The quiet American

    His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace