OLD PLYMOUTH . UK
www.oldplymouth.uk
 

  Brian Moseley, Plymouth
Webpage created: April 24, 2020
Webpage updated: April 24, 2020

        

SECOND WORLD WAR DIARY

RECONSTRUCTION DIARY

In just seven nights of just one year the centres of Plymouth, Devonport and East Stonehouse were laid to ruin.  The devastating Luftwaffe air raids of the nights of March 20th and 21st and April 21st, 22nd, 23rd, 28th and 29th have become termed the Plymouth Blitz.

The Second World War Diary, largely based on Mr H P Twyford's "It Came to Our Door", and Mr Gerald Wasley's more recent "Blitz: An Account of Hitler's Aerial War Over Plymouth in March 1941, and the Events that Followed", along with some new material, tell the details of those terrible, nightmare years.

But even as the War was still raging, Plymouth City Council was making plans for the reconstruction of the City Centre, which started in March 1947.  This webpage tabulates the events between 1947 and 1962 as a new Plymouth was born, albeit without the simultaneous re-birth of the centres of Devonport and East Stonehouse.

Among the other sources used have been Doidge's Year Books for the post-War years and the pages of "The Western Morning News", "The Western Evening Herald" and "The Western Independent".

Errors and Omissions Excepted.

One important point must be noted: not every entry that follows is strictly speaking related to "Reconstruction" of Plymouth after the Blitz.   Obviously the Coronation wasn't, for example.  Neither was the rebuilding of Laira Bridge, which was undamaged during the War.  And as the Tamar Road Bridge didn't even exist before the War started, it was really "new development" rather than "reconstruction".
   
 
March 26th 1941  
The War Damage Act received the Royal Assent on March 26th 1941.
   
July 4th 1941  
On July 4th 1941, just four months after the major Blitz of March 1941, Lord Reith, the Government's reconstruction chief, advised Plymouth to 'plan boldly and plan now'.
   
September 1st 1941  
A tablet in the Civic Centre records that ~ The first act in the rebuilding of Plymouth was the decision of the City Council made on the 1st September 1941 -- within six months of the destruction of the centre of the city -- that a Redevelopment Plan should be prepared.  The Plan -- "A Plan for Plymouth" -- by James Paton Watson, CBE., the City Engineer, and Sir Patrick Abercrombie, the Town Planning Consultant, was completed by September 1943, and the basic principles of the Plan were approved by the Council in August 1944. ~
   
August 6th 1942  
The War Damage (Amendment) Act received the Royal Assent on August 6th 1942.
   
June 1943  

In June 1943 a consolidating War Damage Act, which replaced the previous ones, received the Royal Assent.  War Damage was defined by Section 2 of the Act as:

  • damage directly resulting from action taken by the enemy or from action in fighting the enemy, (for example, bomb damage, and damage caused by anti-aircraft fire);

  • damage directly resulting from action taken by a public authority to prevent spreading of damage as defined above (for example, demolition by a local authority of a building made unsafe by bombing);

  • accidental damage directly resulting from certain measures taken ion anticipation of enemy action and involving a substantial risk to property (for example, accidental explosion of mines in coastal areas).

   
The compensation to be paid to the owner of the property affected was either the cost incurred in the repair of the war damage, known as a 'cost of works payment', or, if it was uneconomical to repair it, a 'value payment' based on the depreciation in the value of the property based on prices ruling on March 31st 1939.
   
Notification of damage had to be reported to the Commission on a form C.1. and the details were then placed on a "Property Index" and a "Name Index".  The nearest office was the Regional Office at Bristol but staff from the Commission's Technical Division (architects and surveyors) were based in Plymouth.
   
1944  
The old Guildhall in Whimple Street was demolished early in 1944.
   
April 25th 1944  
Plymouth City Council held a special meeting on April 25th 1944 to discuss the constitution of the new Reconstruction Committee.
   
April 27th 1944  
"A Plan for Plymouth" was published on April 27th 1944.
   
May 12th 1944  
The Plymouth Emergency Committee was informed on May 12th 1944 that the Admiralty intended purchasing 230 acres of Devonport for an extension to the Royal Dockyard.
   
July 1944  
In July 1944 the Reconstruction Committee recommended to the Council their qualified approval of the basic principles of the Plan for Plymouth.
   
December 14th 1944  
Street lamps were being re-erected in Clarence Place, Courtenay Street, Frankfort Street, King Street and Union Street in the first week of December 1944.  They were re-lit on Thursday December 14th 1944.
   
March 16th 1945  
A new club for the NAAFI was opened by the First Lord of the Admiralty on March 16th 1945.
   
June 13th 1945  
On Wednesday June 13th 1945 public pleasure services were resumed in the Hamoaze when the "Swift" left Phoenix Wharf for the Royal Albert Bridge.  This return to normality proved very popular and the "Lively" was put on as a relief boat.  Between them they carried about 150 passengers.  Permission had been given to run the trips twice daily and Wednesdays and Saturdays and it was hoped to extend the trips to Calstock, as before the War.
   
June 13th 1945  
At the Plymouth City Council Works Committee meeting on June 13th, it was agreed to reinstate the automatic traffic signals at the corner of Frankfort Street, George Street and Bedford Street and also at the corner of Old Town Street and Treville Street.  The estimated cost of the whole scheme was 1,160.
   
July 7th 1945  

A scene from the film "The Way We Live" at Drake Circus, Plymouth

This famous scene from the film "The Way We Live", was shot on Saturday July 7th 1945.   The parade was led by the Band of the Saint John's Cadets.  The film was under the direction of Miss Jill Craigie (later Mrs Michael Foot) and produced by Mr William MacQuitty.

   
September 25th 1945  
On September 25th 1945 the Council approved the erection of temporary shops in Tavistock Road and Glanville Street, opposite the City Library.  22,000 feet of space would be provided at a cost of 10,000.  Also approved were similar shops in Princess Square, where 9,000 feet would be provided at a cost of 4,500.
   
September 29th 1945  
Plymouth's last tram ran on September 29th 1945.
   
October  1st 1945  
On Monday October 1st 1945 the Great Western Railway Company re-started the Royal Mail Postal special trains from London Paddington to Plymouth and Penzance.  The service had been suspended on Saturday September 21st 1940.  The inaugural train was headed by 6019 "King Henry V" and the Guard was a Plymouth man, Mr B J Yate, who lived at Long Rowden, Peverell.
   
November 1945  
The Labour Party took over control of Plymouth City Council in November 1945.
   
December 1945  
Work started in December 1955 on the new housing estate at Efford.
   
February 4th1 946  
On or about February 4th 1946 approval was given for the Declaratory Order No. 1 for the shopping centre, covering some 173 acres.  This was the first such Order to be granted in England.
   
March  25th 1946  
On March 25th 1946 an application from Messrs F W Woolworth Limited to redevelop the Royal Hotel site in Fore Street, Devonport, was discussed by the Reconstruction Committee.  The views of the Admiralty were to be sought.
   
April 12th 1946  
On April 12th 1946 officials from the Ministry of Civil Aviation visited the Harrowbeer airfield and recommended that it should be retained for civilian use.
   
April 15th 1946  
After a break of three and a half years, the Royal Blue express coach service from Plymouth to London recommenced on Monday April 15th 1946.  At exactly 8am the 'brightly cleaned' departed from outside Sherwell Arcade, Tavistock Road, with ten passengers on board bound for London.  The return fare was 1 15s.  Stop were  made at Honiton for morning coffee, at Yeovil for lunch, and at Oakley, near Basingstoke, for tea.  The vehicle that made that first post-war journey to London was DR8806, a Leyland TS1 with Beadle 32-seater bodywork, owned by the Western National Omnibus Company Limited.
   
April 29th 1946  
A public inquiry into the first compulsory purchase order started on April 29th 1946.  The chairman was Mr H G Warren from the Ministry of Town and Country Planning.  The main opposition came from the Chamber of Commerce and the Order was Order was taken to the Court of Appeal.   This was the first such public inquiry in England.
   
May 1946  
In May 1946 it was decided that Saint Catherine's Church in Lockyer Street should not be demolished until Saint Andrew's Church had been rebuilt.
   
July 15th 1946  
Bush Radio Limited applied for a site for a new factory at Ernesettle on July 15th 1946. 
   
On the same date approval was given by the Council for the erection of 25 temporary shops in George Street and Westwell Street, at a cost of 20,000. 
   
July 15th 1946  
Also on July 15th 1946, it was decided to acquire 197 acres of the Derriford Estate.
   
July 21st 1946  
Bread rationing was introduced on July 21st 1946, which created an outrage as the reason behind it was to help starving Germans.
   
September/October 1946  
The Leigham Manor Estate was acquired before it went for auction in September/October 1946.
   
November 1946  
In November 1946 the 1,000th prefabricated house was occupied and the Government approved Plymouth's Declaratory Order No. 1.  This was the first such Order in England to win Government approval.   However, it was challenged in both the High Court and the Court of Appeal but the Council won both cases.
   
Christmas 1946  
Although the Minister of Food, Mr John Strachey, had promised that iced Christmas cakes would be available for Christmas 1946, he omitted to make any allocation of two essential ingredients, fruit and fat, so the Plymouth bakers decided that he had to ban the making of iced cakes.  As mincemeat was also being rationed, to just sevens pounds for every 100 pounds of jam, the manufacture of mince pies in the City would be greatly reduced.
   
1946  

Labour to push forward the reconstruction work in 1946 was in extremely short supply.  On one occasion Plymouth City Council called for 100 men for a particular project.  It did not matter if they were disabled.  Only fifty turned up and of those 38 men 'presented some excuse for not working' which left only 12 men to be taken on.  By the end of the week there were only three of the men left.  The provision of new houses and shops might not have progressed very far had it not been for the use of prisoners of war.

   
1947  
There was a fuel crisis in 1947 which brought about rationing.
   
March 21st 1947  
In the paving of Derry's Cross roundabout, opposite the entrance to Raleigh Street, is a kerbstone engraved 21-3-47.  It commemorates the start of the reconstruction of Plymouth after the Second World War.  The work actually started at 8.15am on Monday March 17th 1947 when Mr Henry Pascoe swung the first pick-axe at the ground in Raleigh Lane prior to laying a new drainpipe.  The foreman of the gang was Mr Gordon Harris, who was killed in November 1947 during the demolition of the old Westminster Bank in Bedford Street.  Other members were Mr Herbert Lavers, Mr Cornelius Hayes and Mr Alfred Waters.  The stone was placed here in 1948 and buried beneath it is a lead box containing items connected with the reconstruction, such as an aerial photograph of Royal Parade before the visit of HM King George VI in October 1947 and Council minutes and correspondence relating to the work. 
   
March 21st 1947  
A special service was held at Saint Andrew's Church on March 21st 1947 to commemorate the bombing of 1941 'and to afford an opportunity to the Council to dedicate itself to the task of the re-building of the City.'
   
May 2nd 1947  
As part of the enlargement of the City, parts of the parishes of Bickleigh and Tamerton Foliot were absorbed into Plymouth from May 2nd 1947.
   
May 12th 1947  
On May 12th 1947 the Court of Appeal allowed the Minister of Town and Country Planning to issue a Compulsory Purchase Order approval to Plymouth City Council.
   
June 2nd 1947  
On June 2nd 1947 the Council accepted a grant of 30,000 from the London Air Raid Distress Fund for the erection of bungalows for the elderly.
   
June 16th 1947  
Acquisition of 193 acres of Derriford Estate was completed on June 16th 1947.  The cost was 32,500 plus fees.
   
June 17th 1947  
The first of 96 Cornish Unit council houses was opened on June 17th 1947.
   
July 3rd 1947  
'When supplies are available and restrictions removed, VIMTO -- the unequalled fruit drink -- will be back and the long deferred expectation of its countless friends joyfully realised.  The Popular Non-Alcoholic Bracing Beverage.  J N Nichols & Co., Ltd., Manchester 16.' -- Advert in Western Evening Herald for July 3rd 1947.
   
July 9th 1947  
On July 9th 1947 it was announced that the Government were going to acquire the old Harrowbeer airfield to serve Plymouth when air services were restored.
   
August 4th 1947  
Road construction in the Centre apparently started on August 4th 1947.
   
August 6th 1947  
On August 6th 1947 the Town and Country Planning Act 1947 was passed by the Government.  This transformed the financial outlook by lifting from the shoulders of the Plymouth ratepayers nine-tenths of the financial burden of the reconstruction of the City for the first five to eight years and half the burden for the following fifty-two years (i.e. to the end of 1999).
   
Saturday August 30th 1947  
On Saturday August 30th 1947 it was once again possible to treat your girlfriend to some chocolates during picture shows at Gaumont Palace cinemas.  They had been withdrawn in 1943.
   
September 15th 1947  
The use of Derriford Estate as a hospital was nearly put in jeopardy when the War Department announced on September 15th 1947 their proposal to extend the adjacent Seaton anti-aircraft gun site.
   
October 20th 1947  
On October 20th 1947 the Council approved the demolition of the old Municipal Offices in Guildhall Square.
   
October 29th 1947  
His Majesty King George VI declared Royal Parade open on October 29th 1947 even though only the section from Westwell Street to Courtenay Street was finished.
   
November 1947  
The Westminster Bank premises in Bedford Street were demolished during November 1947.  It was one of the few buildings to survive the Blitz, probably due to its stronger construction.
   
March 1948  
Clothes were the first to be de-rationed, in March 1948.  
   
March 3rd 1948  
On Wednesday March 3rd 1948 the site allocations in Plymouth's new shopping centre were published.
   
Friday May 7th 1948  
The last German prisoners of war left the camp at Chaddlewood, Plympton, on Friday May 7th 1948, bound for a repatriation camp in Suffolk.  
   
July 1948  
Bread was de-rationed in July 1948.  
   
September 27th 1948  
The remainder of Royal Parade was opened to traffic on Monday September 27th 1948.
   
September 29th 1948  
The plans for some of the buildings in Royal Parade were announced on Wednesday September 29th 1948.  Messrs E Dingle and Company Limited proposed to build a four-storey block, faced with Portland stone, on the eastern junction with what at that time was to be called Phoenix Way (later Armada Way).  The architect was Mr T S Tait FRIBA of Sir John Burnett, Tait, and Partners, of London.  It would have a frontage of 225 feet on both Royal Parade and New George Street   and 290 feet on Phoenix Way.
   
On the opposite corner from Dingle's would be the five stories of Pearl Assurance House, again faced with Portland stone.  This was designed by Mr Alec F French FRIBA, of Plymouth and Bristol, who had worked in conjunction with Mr Tait.  The two buildings were designed so that the corner features balanced each other.  The Pearl Assurance building would have a frontage on Royal Parade of about 250 feet and on Phoenix Way of 145 feet. 
   
December 1948  
Jam was de-rationed in December 1948.  
   
1949  
During 1949 Messrs Tecalemit Limited opened new premises at Marsh Mills.
   
January 1st 1949  
The National Service Act 1948 became effective on January 1st 1949 and fixed the period of military service to eighteen months.  This was followed by four years in the reserve forces.  The Korean War of 1950 led to an increase in the period of service to two years but the time in the reserves was reduced by six months.
   
January 3rd 1949  
Plymouth's first self-service grocery store opened on Monday January 3rd 1949 at the Plymouth Co-operative Society's headquarters in Courtenay Street.
   
January 15th 1949  
The Tory opposition on Plymouth City Council announced on January 15th 1949 that they scrap the parts of "A Plan for Plymouth" relating to areas outside of the City Centre.
   
February 15th 1949  
On February 15th 1949 the Bank of England closed its branch in Bank of England Place, Plymouth.
   
March 21st 1949  
The go-ahead for a new General Post Office at Saint Andrew's Cross was given on March 21st 1949.
   
March 21st 1949  
Also on March 21st 1949 it was stated that the Bank of England premises, vacated in March, had been acquired for 44,300 plus fees.
   
April 19th 1949  
On April 19th 1949 the first purchase was made under the terms of the Devonport Compulsory Purchase Order obtained in 1947.  The property was number 43 King Street, Devonport, for which 60 was paid.
   
April 27th 1949  
During a visit to Plymouth on April 27th 1949 the Minister of Education opened two schools, Plym View Primary and Keyham College Road Primary, and visited the sites of Trelawny Primary and King's Tamerton Secondary Modern Schools.
   
May 25th 1949  
May 25th 1949 saw the announcement that a gun-mounting shop was to be the first building to be erected in the old Fore Street area of Devonport as part of the Royal Dockyard extension.
   
June 13th 1949  
It was announced on June 13th 1949 that the Admiralty planned to acquire 154 acres of land in Devonport over the next 12 years.
   
June 28th 1949  
On June 28th 1949 Lady Astor opened the new factory at Ernesettle for the Bush Radio Company.
   
July 1949  
In July 1949 the City Engineer requested instructions from the Council on re-erecting the Saint Andrew's Cross but it was decided not to rebuild it but to make a War Damage claim instead.
   
October 22nd 1949  
A new foundation stone was laid at Saint Andrew's Church on October 22nd 1949.
   
November 3rd 1949  
Preliminary work on the new Dingle's department store started on November 3rd 1949.  This was the first store to be started.  It was not to be the first to re-open, however.  A few days later, on November 9th 1949, work started on a new store for Messrs F W Woolworth's.
   
1950  
Four new schools were to be opened after the Easter school holidays.    They were South Crownhill Juniors, West Efford Infants, Montpelier Infants and a temporary school on the new Ernesettle estate.  Work was expected to start on two schools at Ernesettle, one for juniors and infants and the other for juniors only.  New schools were also promised for Barne Barton and Whitleigh.
   
May 1950  
Petrol was de-rationed in May 1950, when a low-octane unbranded fuel became available.  
   
June 2nd 1950  
On June 2nd 1950 a 2 million hospital scheme for the Derriford Estate was announced.
   
July 3rd 1950  
The Admiralty put their proposals to the Council on July 3rd 1950.
   
July 22nd 1950  
During a visit to Plymouth on July 22nd the Minister of Works suggested that the Guildhall should be demolished.  As a result of this damage, the Guildhall was very nearly demolished.  In fact when the Minister of Works, Mr R R Stokes, visited the site on Saturday July 22nd 1950, he said that: 'the whole building should be knocked down and a fresh start made.'  He did acknowledge, however, that Plymouth 'is further forward than any other of the badly blitzed cities I have yet visited.'
   
September 1950  
The new West Efford Junior School was due to be opened in September 1950.
   
October 1st 1950  
Work started on Sunday October 1st 1950 on a new store for the Plymouth Co-operative Society.
   
October 2nd 1950  
On Monday October 2nd 1950 the Admiralty authorised the Council to start purchasing land in Devonport.
   
October 16th 1950  
The owners of the old Grand Theatre in East Stonehouse were given permission on Monday October 16th 1950 to restore their building.
   
November 24th 1950  
F W Woolworth's became the first department store to re-open in the reconstruction programme, when it opened on Friday November 24th 1950.
   
December 6th 1950  
On Wednesday December 6th 1950 it was announced that the reconstruction work was to claim one of Plymouth's most significant landmarks -- the Prudential Building.  In the new City Centre of straight roads there was to be no room for buildings that got in the way so demolition would start in January 1951 and the site was due to be handed over to the contractors working on the new Pearl Assurance House in March 1951.
   
1951  
New schools expected to be opened during 1951 included Honicknowle Secondary Modern, Efford Secondary Modern, and a primary school at Knowle Fort.  New schools were also promised for Pennycross, Burleigh House, Saint Budeaux and Lipson.
   
January 22nd 1951  
Demolition work on the old Prudential Insurance building started on Monday January 22nd 1951.
   
September 1st 1951  
Dingle's department store opened its doors on Saturday September 1st 1951, and 40,000 people visited it on the first day.   Included in the design by Sir John Burnett was Plymouth's first example of an escalator.
   
September 20th 1951  
On Thursday September 20th 1951 the first major slum clearance scheme in England since the end of the War was announced.  The demolition of the Pembroke Street area of Devonport was to start in twelve months.
   
September 24th 1951  
On September 24th 1951 it was stated that while the old General Post Office in Westwell Street had been acquired for 40,000 plus fees, the new one at Saint Andrew's Cross was to be leased to the Post Office for 99 years at a ground rent of 3,500 per annum.
   
October 16th 1951  
The foundation stone of the partially completed Pearl Assurance House was laid on Tuesday October 16th 1951.  The building was to cost 600,000.
   
November 6th 1951  
Norwich Union House, on the corner of Old Town Street and Royal Parade, was opened on Tuesday November 6th 1951, only 15 months after receiving the building licence.
   
November 11th 1951  
The plans for the new North Road Plymouth Station were announced on Sunday November 11th 1951.
   
1951  
During 1951 the Plymouth Register Office moved from its war-time accommodation at 13 Thorn Park, Mannamead, to a concrete fronted Nissan hut at 7 Belle Vue Place, North Road.
   
1951  
Also during the year the first part of the Whitleigh housing estate was occupied and the footbridge linking it with Honicknowle was opened.  Its 362 foot span was the longest of its kind in the country at the time and it underwent vigorous testing before it was brought into use.
   
1952  
Armada Way, Cornwall Street and New George Street were all under construction in 1952.
   
January 1952  
Market Buildings in East Street were demolished in January 1952.  This included the premises of Messrs Fernley Wallis (Chemists) Limited, next to the gates of the Meat Market, Battershill's the newsagents, and Swiss's toy shop.  Two stalls within the Meat Market were also removed.  New George Street was extended eastwards over part of the site and the new premises for Messrs John Yeo and Company covered the other part.
   
January 1952  
Milehouse Hill became a dual-carriageway in January 1952 when the tram tracks in the centre of the road were removed.
   
February 6th 1952  
Following the death of her father, His Majesty King George VI, Princess Elizabeth succeeded to the Throne as Queen Elizabeth II.
   
February 11th 1952  
Work on demolishing "Tin Pan Alley" started on Monday February 11th 1952.
   
February 25th 1952  
Plymouth was advised on February 25th 1952 to re-design its new buildings to dispense with the use of steel as far as possible, due to a national shortage.
   
February 28th 1952  
On February 28th 1952 it was announced that although 8,500 homes had been built since 1945 a further 10,000 were still needed.
   
March 10th 1952  
The cost of the reconstruction work so far was announced on March 10th 1952 as being 4,750,000.
   
April 12th 1952  
A new abattoir for the City was opened at Prince Rock on Saturday April 12th 1952.
   
1952  
To help the flow of traffic, a new roundabout was installed at the junction of Mutley Plain, Alexandra Road and Greenbank Hill.  It was replaced by traffic lights in 1964.
   
July 18th 1952  
On Friday July 18th 1952 HRH the Princess Margaret opened the new NAAFI building in Notte Street.
   
August 8th 1952  
On August 8th 1952 it was revealed that Plymouth had built 31% more houses per 1,000 population than its leading rival county borough.
   
September 1952  
John Yeo's new store was opened in September 1952.
   
September 10th 1952  
On Wednesday September 10th 1952 the new Boy Scout headquarters at Blindman's Wood was inaugurated.
   
September 15th 1952  
Work started on Monday September 15th 1952 on extending the Naval Memorial on the Hoe.
   
October 1952  
Tea was de-rationed in October 1952. 
   
In October 1952 work started on the new Market.
   
October 10th 1952  
Barclay's Bank opened their new premises in Armada Way on Friday October 10th 1952.
   
October  20th 1952  
On October 20th 1952 the City Engineer announced he was to spend 78,000,000 over the next 20 years on reconstruction works.
   
October 24th 1952  
The foundation stone of the Royal Insurance Building at Saint Andrew's Cross was laid on Friday October 24th 1952.  It was completed in 1954.
   
   
"Fine Chance to Speed Rebuilding" ran the headline on the Western Evening Herald when the chairman of the Works Committee, Councillor W A Miller, launched a drive to make available to the steel industry as many tons of scrap metal as possible.  The reconstruction of the City Centre required 2,200 tons per annum and the increased demand and decreasing imports of steel had led to a shortage.  The target for Plymouth was to collect 450 tons or 20 lbs per household.  This was equated to two iron pans and an old fireplace or a pair of bed-ends.  It was to be collected on normal refuse rounds but extra vehicles would be employed.  'If the collectors should miss any household.. telephone 2821 extension 302'.

The publicity lorry for the Plymouth Scrap Metal Week.
  City of Plymouth Museum and Art Gallery.

   
November 1st 1952  
Sadly, on November 1st 1952 it was announced that the scrap collection had yielded only 232 tons and so the drive would be extended for another week.  When it finally came to an end on Saturday November 8th 1952, only 280 tons had been collected.
   
November 17th 1952  
Three Building Licenses, worth 65,000, were granted on November 17th 1952, in an effort to relieve unemployment in the local building industry.
   
November 20th 1952  
On November 20th 1952 it was announced that 1,017 Council houses and 138 private developer houses had been completed.
   
December 27th 1952  

The new Co-operative House opened its doors on Saturday December 27th 1952.

   
1953  
At a public inquiry into the "A Plan for Plymouth" held at the Devonport Guildhall, a question was asked about the need to demolish 22 public houses in East Stonehouse, to which Mr Paton Watson replied: 'I do not think the public houses are open when the men have their tea breaks.  It is tea they drink nowadays.'
   
January 1953  
In January 1953 work started to clear the rubble from the Guildhall.
   
January 9th 1953  
Pearl Assurance House was opened on Friday January 9th 1953.
   
February 1953  
Sweets were de-rationed in February 1953. 
   
March 1953  
Eggs were de-rationed in March 1953. 
   
More than 1,000 tons of debris had been cleared from the Plymouth Guildhall by March 1953 in preparation for its reconstruction.
   
March 18th 1953  
Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, opened the new YWCA building in Lockyer Street on Wednesday March 18th 1953.
   
March 20th 1953  
On March 20th plans were approved for the last department store to be built on Royal Parade, which was Popham's.
   
April 1953  
Cream was de-rationed in April 1953. 
   
April 10th 1953  
On Friday April 10th 1953 the Junior Chamber of Commerce announced a scheme to build a low-level bridge across the River Tamar at Saltash.   It would cost less than 500,000.
   
April 13th  1953  
Forty people started building their own houses at Crownhill on Monday April 13th 1953.
   
June 1953  
In June 1953 a new Bus Station was opened on waste ground in Union Street.
   
June 2nd 1953  
The Coronation in Westminster Abbey, London, of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.  Great celebrations on Plymouth Hoe.
   
June 15th 1953  
New Building Licenses amounting to 216, 450 were granted on June 15th 1953.
   
June 19th 1953  
On Friday June 19th 1953 the Lord Mayor of Plymouth, Alderman Sir Clifford Tozer, opened the new branch of Boot's the Chemist at the junction of Old Town Street and New George Street.  The original premises in George Street had been destroyed in the Second World War some twelve years before.  The manager was Mr G H Levett.
   
September 1953  
Sugar was de-rationed in September 1953. 
   
September 8th 1953  
The new store for Messrs John Yeo and Company Limited was opened by 13-years-old Master David Beckly, son of the managing director, on Tuesday September 8th 1953.
   
November 1953  
In November 1953 the new store of Messrs Timothy White's was opened, just 7 months after the first shovel of earth had been dug on April 19th.
   
November 16th 1953  
The demolition of Colonial House in Millbay Road at a cost of 180 was authorised on November 16th 1953.
   
1954  
One wartime measure continued: the collection of kitchen waste.  This was processed into pig food as part of the war effort and was an extremely successful municipal operation, raising a lot of money.

The collection of kitchen waste for processing in to pig food.
  City of Plymouth Museum and Art Gallery.

However, the demand for the waste began to drop off in 1954 and the Council began losing money on the operation so in 1959 they started to close it down.

   
March 1st 1954  
The old Sugar Refinery in Mill Street had to be vacated by March 1st 1954, in preparation for demolition.
   
May 1954  
Butter, cheese, margarine and other cooking fats were de-rationed in May 1954. 
   
May 20th 1954  
On Thursday May 20th 1954 HRH the Princess Margaret laid a stone marking the commencement of the reconstruction of the Central Library.
   
June 22nd 1954  
Sir Thomas Sheepshanks, KCB, KBE, the Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Housing and Local Government, opened the 10,000th post-war municipal dwelling to be built by Plymouth City Council on Tuesday June 22nd 1954.
   
July 1954  
In July 1954 work started on reconstructing the Guildhall.
   
July 2nd 1954  
Rationing formally ended on July 2nd 1954, when meat products became freely available. 
   
July 3rd 1954  
A large crowd gathered in Trafalgar Square in central London to ceremonially tear up their ration books in celebration.  
   
July 24th 1954  
"Time Gentlemen, please" was called for the last time at Picken's Bar in Whimple Street at 10.30pm on Saturday July 24th 1954 prior to its demolition.
   
June 1955  
In was announced in June 1955 that Charles Church was to become a war memorial to the civilians who lost their lives in the Second World War.
   
July 1955  
Contractors Messrs Richard Costain Limited started work on the new store for Messrs Popham's in July 1955.
   
1956  

14,374 Council houses and 2,283 private houses had been completed since the end of the War, along with 18 primary and 6 secondary modern schools.

The cost of land acquisition and clearance had been 4,500,000. the cost of new roads, drains and sewers had amounted to 432,000 and the cost of new buildings had been 6 million.

   
January 8th 1956  
On Sunday January 8th 1956 the congregation of the blitzed King Street Wesleyan Methodist Chapel held the first service in their new, temporary home at number 5 George Street, one of the former temporary shops erected during the 1940s in the devastated City Centre.
   
February22nd 1956  
The reconstructed Central Library was reopened on Wednesday February 22nd 1956.
   
May 1956  
Though not a matter of "reconstruction" it might be important to mention that in May 1956 the last of the buses with wooden seats was withdrawn.  They left their impression on many Plymothians.
   
May 1956  

The new premises of Messrs Spooner and Company Limited were completed in May 1956.

   
October 11th 1956  
On Thursday October 11th 1956 the new premises of Messrs Moon & Sons (Pianos) Ltd was opened in New George Street.
   
January 1957  
The public house, "The Old Ring of Bells", in Woolster Street was demolished in January 1957.
   
May 1957  
In May 1957 Messrs Brown and Sharpe opened a new factory at Ernesettle.
   
July and October 1957  

On Wednesday July 31st 1957 the Tamar Bridge Act was passed by Parliament.  The Tamar Bridge Joint Committee was set up on Wednesday October 9th 1957.

   
November 30th 1957  

The rebuilt Saint Andrew's Church was reconsecrated on Saturday November 30th 1957.

   
1957  
During 1957 new premises were completed for Popham's, Lloyd's Bank and Barclay's Bank Chambers.
   
January 1958  
Early in January 1958 a start was made on the demolition of the shops that remained isolated in the centre of Derry's Cross roundabout.
   
February 1958  
The eastern end of King Street, Plymouth, from the railway arch towards the City Centre, was demolished in February 1958.
   
February7th 1958  
On Friday February 7th 1958 the so-called "Viaduct" or Eastern Approach road was officially opened.
   
February 27th 1958  
On Thursday February 27th 1958 the new Popham's store was opened in Royal Parade.   It had been housed in some 22 different buildings around Plymouth since the original premises in Bedford Street were bombed in March 1941.
   
March 30th 1958  
This was a few weeks ahead of Bretonside Bus Station, beneath the Viaduct, which was opened quietly on Sunday March 30th 1958.  The first passenger to board a bus was Mr Eric Watson of 7 The Esplanade, The Hoe, who used the 5.05am Western National service to Ivybridge in order to start his duty at Moorhaven Hospital.
   
May 14th 1958  
The new YMCA in Cobourg Street was opened on Wednesday May 14th 1958.
   
May 23rd 1958  
Vice-Admiral Sir Richard Onslow, Commander-in-Chief, Plymouth, laid the foundation stone for the new Royal Sailors' Rest at Devonport on Friday May 23rd 1958.
   
May 31st 1958  
Mr Chuter Ede opened the new Unitarian Chapel in Notte Street on Saturday May 31st 1958.  It replaced the Treville Street Unitarian Chapel that was destroyed during the War.
   
June 6th 1958  
The Drake Cinema was opened on Friday June 6th 1958.
   
October 1958  
HRH the Duchess of Kent opened the Miles Mitchell Village for elderly people in October 1958.
   
June 1st 1959  
As from Monday June 1st 1959 Fore Street, Devonport, was closed to all road traffic.  Buses on routes 6 and 27 to Saint Budeaux were diverted from Chapel Street to the new Granby Way.  Fore Street was then taken inside the Royal Dockyard.
   
July 1959  
It was reported in July 1959 that since 1947 the Reconstruction Committee of the City Council had spent 8,602,301 on land acquisition.
   
August 1959  
The communal kitchen waste bins were withdrawn by August 1959.  
   
September 7th 1959  
The new Plymouth Pannier Market was opened on Monday September 7th 1959.
   
September 24th 1959  
Lord Montgomery re-opened the Guildhall on Thursday September 24th 1959.
   
October 3rd 1959  
A major event in the provision of fresh water to Plymouth came with the official opening of the River Tavy Water Scheme at Crownhill Water Treatment Works on Saturday October 3rd 1959.  The opening was carried out by Dame Evelyn Sharp.
   
October 19th 1959  
The last collections of kitchen waste from homes and factories started on October 19th 1959.
 
November 1959
Work started on a new Laira Bridge in November 1959.
   
February 1960  
William Street in Devonport was closed to traffic in February 1960 prior to it being taken inside the extension of the Royal Dockyard.
   
May 1960  
In May 1960 a new Royal Sailors' Rest was opened in Albert Road, Devonport.
   
September 1st 1960  
On September 1st 1960 Messrs F W Woolworth's opened their new store in Marlborough Street.
   
November 26th 1960  
The railway network in Plymouth moved over to colour-light signalling on November 26th 1960, when the new power signal box was opened.
   
December 31st 1960  
National Service came to an end on December 31st 1960.  
   
October 23rd 1961  
Two means of transport ceased this year, with the imminent opening of the Tamar Road Bridge: the last steam hauled Saltash "Motor" ran on June 12th 1961 and the last Saltash Ferry on October 23rd 1961.
   
March 26th 1962  
Doctor Beeching, the chairman of the British Railways Board, opened the new Plymouth Station on March 26th 1962.
   
April 26th  1962  
This was followed on April 26th 1962 by the opening of the Tamar Bridge by Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother.
   
June 1st 1962  
Finally, on June 1st 1962 the new Laira Bridge was officially opened by Lord Chesham.
   
July 26th 1962  
The reconstruction of Plymouth, commenced in March 1947, finally came to an end with the opening of the new Civic Centre on July 26th 1962.   Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II performed the opening ceremony.  This brought together under one roof various civic departments that had been scattered throughout the City since the destruction of the old Municipal Office building in Guildhall Square.
   
May 13th 1963  
The last National Service man, Lieutenant Richard Vaughan, was discharged from the Royal Army Pay Corps on May 13th 1963.  
   
All building work that took place after this date is regarded as normal development work and not part of the City's rebirth after the devastation of the Second World War.
   
   

RESIDUAL INFORMATION

It might be mentioned here that the War Damage Commission was dissolved on October 1st 1964 as a result of the War Damage Act 1964.  Most of its residual work was transferred to the War Damage office at the Board of Inland Revenue and from October 1st 1974 the right to any claims or payments ceased except where such damage might be caused by an unexploded Second World War bomb.