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Royal William Yard puts out a plea for poets

Plymouth poets and West Country wordsmiths are being invited to pen a poem on Royal William Yard. A destination renowned for its fascinating history, a poetry competition is launching to celebrate the Yard’s past in a new creative way.

Poets young and old, budding amateurs and seasoned professionals can take part, penning an original poem of up to 30 lines long, centred around Royal William Yard’s history. The intention is to celebrate times gone by, tell the story of this unique place, and capture it for future generations.

The winner could even have their work displayed in Royal William Yard, bringing their storytelling to the thousands of visitors that meander round this historic site. The winner’s efforts will also be rewarded with an overnight stay in Rooms by Bistrot Pierre.

The hunt for a ‘Yard Bard’ is on; the competition launches this week and remains open for entries until the end of the year. The contest is free to enter and the terms and conditions are outlined below. Submissions can be emailed to yardlife@royalwilliamyard.com.

Hailey Cattle, Regional Marketing Manager for Urban Splash, said: “Royal William Yard is an incredible destination, with echoes of the past around every corner. We want to celebrate that in a unique way, by celebrating creative local talent. Immerse yourself in our historic destination; bring your notebook, grab a coffee or take a walk, and feel inspired! We can’t wait to read your poetry and share it with others.

“Over the years, the Yard has undergone a huge transformation, from feats of engineering to create a busy victualling yard, to falling derelict and into disrepair, then to be rescued and redeveloped into the place we know and love. It has an epic past, with much to learn and discover, and we look forward to sharing that in a new and different way.”

Delve into the past
Anyone looking to take part can swat up on the Yard’s past in its History Guide. Royal William Yard is undoubtedly one of the most prominent symbol of Plymouth’s seafaring past, and once hummed with life as a British Navy victualling facility, producing vital food, drink and supplies.

One of the most important groups of historic military buildings in Britain, it is also the largest collection of Grade I Listed military buildings in Europe. Named after the last Lord High Admiral, King William IV, it was a hive of activity from its construction in 1825 and helped keep our naval fleet afloat for a further century.

Closed by the Ministry of Defence in 1980s, the Yard’s elegant buildings fell into disrepair until regeneration specialists Urban Splash became involved in 2004. Every effort has been made to respect and restore the original features that are so integral the Yard’s atmosphere. So, even while you enjoy a very modern setting, you are surrounded by history and can’t help but be aware of it.

It has been a momentous task to bring the Yard back to life and fit for the future. It’s a mission that has taken an immense amount of time, skills and sensitivity – and it’s a journey nearing its end with the Yard’s iconic Melville building the last major edifice to be redeveloped.

Melville was the grandest building at the heart of the Yard, with other buildings built symmetrically either side, framing it as the centrepiece. ‘Smarter’ materials were used at its front, so that it looked especially impressive for the Admirals based at Mount Wise. It boasts an elaborate clock tower, designed by B.L Vulliamy, who went on to draw up the first design for Big Ben.

The restoration work also uncovered some incredible facts about the Yard, including that it features stones tipping the scales at a mammoth three tonnes each, incredibly rare for Plymouth limestone. Documents also show that the Brewhouse building was made to fulfil the Navy’s ration of beer… but as the building was finished, the ration was abolished, and beer was never brewed there!

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