Drake’s Island is a little under 7 acres, and despite its small size, it has a very rich history. It is located at the north end of the Plymouth Sound, and it was once an essential part of the city’s defenses. In its heyday, it was designed to prevent England’s enemies from entering the country by water. Much of the island’s history had been chronicled; however, there are still people who wonder about the tunnels.
The island wasn’t always known as Drake’s Island. In 1135, it was called St. Michael’s Island, because there was a chapel on the island that was named after St. Micheal. When the chapel was rededicated to St. Nicholas, the island was renamed as well. It kept the name St. Nicholas until the end of the 1500s when people started calling it Drake’s Island. It was named after the famous seaman and slave trader, Sir Francis Drake. Drake journeyed to faraway places. He was the second person to ever circumnavigate the Earth by himself. He started his journey in 1577, and three years later, he ended his journey. Then, he became a vice admiral in the English Navy. In the end, he chose Plymouth to be his England base.
English Civil War
Drake’s Island played an essential part in the English Civil War. When Plymouth pledged its allegiance to Parliament, it left them under attack for years. The people in the city used Drake’s Island as a refuge for the Parliamentary Navy. They were able to sneak in an out under cover of night for supplies.
A New Purpose
Eventually, the Parliamentary forces prevailed, and the conflict ended. When things were quiet, the locals found a new purpose for the island. King Charles II had the structures on the island restored, and it became a prison. He left many of the political dissidents there to die. One of them was Colonel Robert Liburne, who signed off on the death sentence of King Charles I.
In 1780, Drake’s Island went through yet another overhaul. All of the structures on the island were torn down to make room for new defenses. They added a new battery and artillery to protect the entryway into Plymouth Sound as well as all of the rivers that feed into it. During the 19th century, more work was done on the island for protection purposes. On the south side of the island, the military installed over 20 9-inch guns.
World War I and World War II
During both of the World Wars, Drake island had a new purpose. Soldiers were stationed on the island at minefield control posts. From this position, soldiers could remotely blow up any mines that were left in the sound if the enemy managed to get too close. When World War II ended, Drake’s Island was still overseen by the U.K.’s military, but not forever. About ten years after the war ended, the government decided that it no longer needed Drake’s Island for defense.
The Adventure Centre
It took about seven years for the military to leave Drake Island altogether. When they removed all of the weaponry, the Plymouth City Council leased the island for another purpose. They wanted to create an adventure facility for children, called The Adventure Centre. It remained open until the spring of 1989. When the facility closed, the city council removed all of the materials on the island. They also gave up the lease, which meant that the government was in control of the island again.
Selling the Island
Seven years after Adventure Island closed, the Crown Estate decided to sell the island to the highest bidder. The initial value was £235,000, and in the end, a businessman named Dan McCauley agreed to pay almost twice that amount. He wanted to turn Drake’s Island into a hotel complex. Unfortunately, his plans were blocked.
Up For Sale
Today, many adventure seekers and history buffs visit the island. It has remained untouched for years, and many of the structures remain. This English island is riddled with subterranean tunnels that hide dark secrets. This is what has drawn people to the island. The stories associated with the tunnels are said to be stories made up by mischievous soldiers who were stationed on the island. Nobody knew for sure if they even existed. There is no financial records or contracts to prove that they were built. Finally, after some exploration, it was discovered the tunnels did exist, but why? Many believe that they were dug during the Civil War, World War I, or World War II. They are said to have been a secret way to connect the military structures.
In 2018, the island was put on the market again for £6. It is currently still on the market, which means that it is uninhabited, except for the groundskeeper who knows the place like the back of his hand. He has even taken people on tours on the tunnels, which is pretty incredible.