Our city owes much to John Foulstan
I WAS quite surprised at reading the names of the shortlisted people to be immortalised in metal as representatives of our historical and cultural past. I could understand why people might have suggested Reynolds, Cookworthy, Beryl Cook and Scott, but the tenuous links of Conan Doyle, Pocahontus and Darwin are really clutching at straws!
Since the "portrait bench" is also part of the transport and highway improvements I am forced to suggest a name which seems to have been forgotten in modern Plymouth, yet without him transport and culture may have not existed in the area in the way we know it, John Foulstan.
It was Foulstan who defied the Town Fathers and declared he could build a grand road across marshland, joining Plymouth, Stonehouse and Devonport. The originally named "New Road" became Union Street, which would eventually become home to a number of theatres as well as its vast amount of pubs. But it was his design for a Theatre Royal which established Plymouth as the premier destination in the South West for shows.
It was the loss of his buildings which Plymouth and Devonport mourned in particular after the Blitz, such as the Plymouth Mechanics, Princess Square and Stonehouse Town (St George's) Hall and his buildings now which are in desperate need to be saved in modern times, such as the Devonport Town Hall, Zion Hall in Kerr Street and the Devonport Monument.
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Without Foulstan, there may have been no grand theatre at all in Plymouth or Devonport, the marsh may have never been built on and Millbay Docks may never have existed. Maybe Devonport would still be physically and municipally separate from its two older neighbours? Who knows, but what I do know is that our local culture, history and transport, owes a great deal to John Foulstan and his name should be put forward as I doubt many would know who he was despite seeing daily the product of his work nearly 200 years ago.