Drake Circus Shopping Centre

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Drake Circus Shopping Centre
Drake circus logo.png
Location Plymouth, UK
Coordinates 50°22′20″N 4°08′15″W / 50.37222°N 4.13750°W / 50.37222; -4.13750Coordinates: 50°22′20″N 4°08′15″W / 50.37222°N 4.13750°W / 50.37222; -4.13750
Address 1 Charles Street,
Opening date 5 October 2006
Developer P&O Estates,[1]
Morgan Stanley Bank
Management DTZ
Owner British Land (since January 2011)
Architect Chapman Taylor
No. of stores and services 66
No. of anchor tenants 8
Total retail floor area 425,000 square feet (39,484 m2)[2]
No. of floors 3
Parking 1270
Website www.drakecircus.com

Drake Circus Shopping Centre is a 425,000 square feet (39,484 m2)[2] covered shopping mall in the centre of Plymouth, England, which opened in October 2006.[3]

The new building, designed by London-based architects Chapman Taylor[1] and built by Bovis Lend Lease[1] and situated behind the ruined Charles Church, preserved as the city's civilian war memorial, has provoked a mixed reception.[4] Just after it opened, the shopping centre won the inaugural Carbuncle Cup "for crimes against architecture", as the worst new building in the UK.[5][6] However, in 2007 it won two retail industry national awards, one of which was the Retail Week magazine's "Shopping Location of the Year".[7] Also in 2007, the centre's management introduced a code of conduct which, like one the Bluewater centre controversially introduced in 2005, banned hooded tops and baseball caps.[8]


The term 'circus' as used here refers to an open space, usually circular, where a number of roads meet. Drake Circus was originally a large oval roundabout built in the early 20th century at the junction of four main roads and several minor ones. The roundabout consisted of Edwardian buildings housing shops, and from 1937 its south end carried the "Guinness Clock", which was visible to people travelling up Old Town Street[9] and was a landmark in the city of the time.[10]

The circus survived the Plymouth Blitz of World War II relatively intact, but it was demolished in 1966-7 as part of the Plan for Plymouth,[11][12] and was replaced by a new open roundabout to the north. Around this time the lower section of the main road to Tavistock off this new roundabout was renamed Drake Circus. A two-level shopping centre with open malls and a large C&A store was built, partly over the site of the original circus. It opened in 1971 and was also named Drake Circus.[13]

Initial proposals to redevelop this mall in the early 1990s failed, but the developers, P&O Estates, tried again in the early 2000s.[14] Plans were drawn up for a much larger centre, and after Allders signed up as the first "anchor" tenant in 2001, work started in February 2004[15] on demolishing the old centre and the adjoining Charles Street multi-storey car park.

The scheme suffered a setback in January 2005 when Allders went into administration.[16] New tenants Next and Primark committed in 2005 and the building opened in October 2006.

On 3 February 2005 it was announced that the shopping centre had been sold by P&O Estates to Morgan Stanley Real Estate Fund for £55m.[17] On 20 November 2006 it was announced that Kandahar Real Estate had taken a 50 per cent stake in the centre.[18] The centre was bought by British Land for £240 million in January 2011.[2]

The old Drake Circus shopping mall was demolished in 2004. 
Interior a few days after opening. 
One of the entrances to the new shopping centre. 
Part of the contentious frontage behind the ruined Charles Church. 
Under construction 


  1. ^ a b c "Doors open at £200m complex". BBC. 29 June 2006. Retrieved 5 November 2007. 
  2. ^ a b c "British Land Acquires Drake Circus Shopping Centre in Plymouth for £240 million". British Land. 6 January 2011. Retrieved 28 May 2012. 
  3. ^ Christine Eade (3 November 2006). "Eade on: how sops make Plymouth rock". PropertyWeek.com. Retrieved 5 November 2007. 
  4. ^ "Controversy over £200m shops plan". BBC. 5 October 2006. Retrieved 13 October 2007. 
  5. ^ Zoë Blackler (13 October 2006). "Bottom of the barrel – Carbuncles 2006". Building Design website. Retrieved 5 November 2007. 
  6. ^ Tom Dyckhoff (10 January 2007). "The malling of our cities". London: The Times Online. Retrieved 5 November 2007. 
  7. ^ "City mall wins location accolade". BBC News. 3 March 2007. Retrieved 3 August 2008. 
  8. ^ "Shopping centre ban on 'hoodies'". BBC News. 12 March 2007. Retrieved 3 August 2008. 
  9. ^ "Drake Circus As It Was (the Guinness Clock – 1960s)". BBC Devon. Retrieved 9 November 2007. 
  10. ^ Moseley, Brian (1 March 2012) [25 June 2008]. "Guinness Clock". The Encyclopaedia of Plymouth History. Plymouth Data. Archived from the original on 28 September 2013. Retrieved 12 February 2015. 
  11. ^ Hawkins, Michael (1988). Devon Roads. An illustrated survey of the development and management of Devon's highway network. Exeter: Devon Books. p. 144. ISBN 0-86114-817-7. 
  12. ^ BBC archive films from 1966 and 1967 here (links under Archive Film on the left of the page)
  13. ^ Eade, Christine (21 January 2005). "Drake's progress". Building. Retrieved 11 February 2009. 
  14. ^ "More moves in city development plans". BBC. 6 November 2000. Retrieved 31 October 2007. 
  15. ^ "Plymouth city centre revamp: Photos". BBC. 2004. Retrieved 7 November 2007. 
  16. ^ "Shopping centre set to lose store". BBC News. 11 February 2005. Retrieved 31 October 2007. 
  17. ^ "P&O sells DrakeCircus shopping centre development to Morgan Stanley Real Estate Fund for £55m". Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer. Retrieved 5 November 2007. 
  18. ^ "Carphone tycoon buys into Plymouth centre". Shopping Centre magazine. Retrieved 11 November 2007. 

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