Thursday 10th July was the first DPA workday on the Plymouth Leat aka Drake’s Leat, built in 1591 to bring water to the then-town of Plymouth. The day was warm and somewhat ‘sticky’. We started near the Roborough end of the leat, where the bracken was worst, and started working towards Clearbrook.

Drake's Plymouth Leat before bracken clearing.

Drake’s Plymouth Leat before bracken clearing.

For easy comparison, here is the comparison photograph of the same part of the leat after the volunteers “did their stuff” …..


The same section of the leat after clearance by the DPA volunteers.

The difference made by the volunteers is quite clear and the intention is that as the years go by and we keep doing this work, the bracken growth is less each year and the work becomes easier.

There were 11 volunteers and I want to thank Adam Sparkes, Bill Radcliffe, Chris Francis, Derek Collins, Hilary Luce, Janet Reeves, Nigel Peace, Stephen Barrow, Sylvia Hamilton, Val Barnes, along with myself, Keith Ryan. The tradition of cake was maintained by dark, chocolatey(?) blackcurrant muffins (these were always “buns” in my younger days) and some excellent energy-boosting flapjack from Nigel’s wife!  Thank you and keep them coming, folks!

Here is a photo of the far end of where we reached …..


A section of leat with two machinists still working on a final tidy-up.

A GPS track of the length of leat cleared today shows 692 ± 3 metres (755 yards).  This can be seen on a Google Earth map: HERE. You can ‘thumbwheel’ in or use your ‘+’ and ‘-‘ keys to zoom in and look around the area in detail.

The next work day for the leat is in the same area but probably using a different car park on Fri. 18th July.  Regular volunteers will receive the usual email with details beforehand, if you would like to join in the fun, please contact the DPA office.

Footnote: There were three leats originially to supply Plymouth (1591),  Stonehouse (1594?) and finally Devonport (opened 1801) with water.  The “Three Towns” were amalgamated and a Mayoral Stone was unveiled in Victoria Park, Plymouth, to mark the occasion, in 1913.   A new Boundary Stone is being unveiled to celebrate the Centenary of the Amalgamation of the Three Towns at 11 am 1st November 2014 at the Millbridge end of the same Victoria Park.