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Local and naval history

Local history

We keep our main collection of materials relating to Plymouth and its surrounding areas at the Central Library.


  • free computer access (two computers with Microfilm scanners)
  • microform readers with printing facilities

For more information, to book computers or Microform readers

Phone: 01752 305902


Topics covered include

  • transport
  • education
  • geology
  • mining
  • genealogy
  • archaeology
  • biography

Special collections include books by Eden Phillpotts and Sabine Baring-Gould.


Runs of the major county historical periodicals, including

  • transactions of the Devonshire Association
  • Devon and Cornwall Notes and Queries
  • publications of the Devon and Cornwall Record Society
  • local periodicals and parish magazines


Our local newspaper collection is on Microfilm.

You will need to book a Microfilm reader to use it.

Phone: 01752 305902

For details of printing costs see our charges page.

Newspapers collection

  • Plymouth Weekly Journal, 1721 to 1723
  • Sherborne Mercury, 1737 to 1867, with gaps
  • Plymouth and Dock Telegraph, 1808 to 1816
  • Plymouth Chronicle, May 1809, part 1812, 1813
  • Plymouth and Dock Telegraph and Chronicle, 1817 to 1821
  • Plymouth and Devonport Weekly Journal, 1819 to 1863
  • Plymouth and Plymouth Dock Weekly, 1821 to 1823
  • Devonshire Freeholder, 1824 to 1825
  • Plymouth Herald and Devonshire Freeholder, 1826 to 1828
  • Royal Devonport Telegraph and Plymouth Chronicle, 1828 to 1834
  • Plymouth, Devonport and Stonehouse Herald, 1831 to 860
  • Devonport Independent and Stonehouse Gazette, 1833 to 1891
  • Devonport Telegraph and Plymouth Chronicle, 1835 to 1851
  • Plymouth Times, Devonport, Stonehouse and West of England, 1842 to 1858
  • Devonport and Plymouth Telegraph, 1852 to 1863
  • Plymouth Mail, 1852 to 1862
  • Tavistock Gazette, 1857 to 1889
  • Western Morning News, 1860 to 2014
  • Western Daily Mercury, 1860 to 1921
  • Western Weekly News, 1861 to 1939
  • Thunderbolt, 1871 to 1873
  • Western Critic, October to December 1871
  • Western Evening Herald, 1895 to present day
  • Plympton Times and South Hams Advertiser, January to February 1898
  • Plympton Gazette, 1907 to 1912
  • Plympton District Times, 1921 to 1927
  • Plympton and South Devon Times, 1927 to 1930
  • South Devon Times, 1930 to 1950
  • Sunday Independent, 1986 to 2010

Some newspapers, such as the Western Morning News and the Western Evening Herald are indexed on card.

Indexes from the year 2000 are available on the online catalogue and on Newsbank from 2008.

You can access the British Newspaper Archive in all libraries.


  • Ordnance Survey county series in Second and Third Editions for most of south and west Devon in 6" and 25" scales
  • County series 1:500 for Plymouth in the 1890s: 1st edition on microfiche
  • historical maps for Plymouth, Devon and Cornwall
  • reproductions of early Plymouth maps, from 1643 to 1939

Images and illustrations

  • Photographs and engravings of Plymouth and the surrounding area

Images have been catalogued and digitised by Plymouth Archives, The Box.

We keep most of our naval history collection at Devonport Library.

The collection includes books, images, journals and other artefacts and provides a fascinating background to the history of the Royal Navy in Plymouth.


  • Information covering the complete history of the Royal Navy
  • Special collections of titles from the Hakluyt Society and the Naval Record Society
  • Complete run of Janes Fighting Ships dating from 1898
  • Admiralty charts for the local area, both historical and current


  • Historical and current periodicals, including Naval Chronicle, Navy News, Naval History, Mariners Mirror and Warship World
  • The Naval and Military Record 1886 to 1936, available on microfilm
  • Indexed cuttings and other ephemera


  • Extensive collection of photographs of naval vessels
  • Selected portraits of prominent naval officers, and photographs of other naval subjects