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Undoubtedly 'A Plan for Plymouth' lead to a bold and ambitious reconstruction programme for the City of Plymouth, resulting in the complete redesign and construction of the city centre and the development of a number of new neighbourhood areas expanding the city far beyond its pre-war boundaries.

However the Plan was never fully realised with a series of compromises being reached throughout the reconstruction period and a number of key players moving on or finding their ideas being adapted by new figures in the city. Abercrombie had resigned as consultant to the city in 1947 and Lord Astor took an increasingly reduced role due to ill health, passing away in 1953. The driving force behind the implementation of the Plan was James Paton Watson until his retirement in 1958.

However, he found himself at loggerheads with the City Architect, HJW Stirling (appointed in 1950) over a number of aspects of the Plan. Not least Stirling’s plans for the new Civic Centre, which Watson felt was far too high and deviated from the original Plan. Stirling was to have a large influence over the implementation of the Plan and designed a number of the city's key buildings.

Although, eventually designed and constructed under the direction of Jellicoe, Ballantyne and Coleridge architects, the vision for the Civic Centre was very much Stirling's. The work of HJW Stirling can be seen across the city from the redeveloped Guildhall and City Law Courts in the civic square to housing and residential homes in the suburbs of the city.

For many the completion of the Civic Centre and the opening of the new Tamar Bridge signalled the end of Plymouth's reconstruction with any work undertaken after that being seen as normal development.

Civic Centre and Council House, c1962
© Plymouth City Council Arts and Heritage

Aerial view of Plymouth City Centre, c1961
© Plymouth City Council Arts and Heritage