Devon

Drake's Island fortress to reopen to public after 30 years

Drake's Island Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Drake's Island lies 500m off the mainland, in the heart of Plymouth Sound

An island is reopening for a one-off public tour after more than 30 years of closure.

Drake's Island, located about 500m off the Plymouth coast, is a former fort, prison and adventure centre, but has been closed to the public since 1989.

Some 105 tickets are being offered for the 15 March tour, with funds going to St Luke's Hospice.

New owner Morgan Phillips plans to open the island fully in the future, with plans for a museum and heritage centre.

Image copyright Jones Lang Lasalle
Image caption The island has been left largely untouched since an adventure training facility closed in 1989

The six-acre island is home to a 16th Century barracks, pier and network of underground tunnels.

Its history includes tales of brandy smuggling, a sketch by Queen Victoria and a hoax "invasion" by a group of schoolboys in 1957.

Drake's Island

Image copyright JONES LANG LASALLE
  • The island was named after Sir Francis Drake
  • The fort played a crucial role in defending the maritime city from French and Spanish invasions in the late 16th Century
  • It has been used as a prison, a religious centre, and a refuge
  • In 2017 Plymouth City Council granted planning permission for a luxury £10m hotel and spa
  • In 2019 the island was bought for an undisclosed sum by Morgan Phillips

Mr Phillips said he chose St Luke's as the beneficiary of the tour after witnessing the staff's "unwavering dedication" during a recent visit.

The charity looks after 300 terminally-ill people every day.

Image copyright Jones Lang Lasalle
Image caption There is a rumour Drake's Island is joined to the mainland by two secret tunnels

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