If you visit Tavistock or Plymouth it won’t be long before you see the name ‘Drake’, you can go shopping at Drakes Circus, have lunch at Drake’s Cafe, and relax beside Drake’s reservoir. You may even see statues of him, one on Plymouth Hoe, another in the centre of a roundabout in Tavistock and one looking down on you as you enter Plymouth Market.
Local people are still very proud of Sir Francis Drake (C. 1540 – 1596), when I was a child I remember my grandfather telling me the story of how, in 1588 he was playing bowls on Plymouth Hoe when he was told that the Spanish Armada had been spotted nearby. When his game finished, he sailed out to successfully defeat the armada. The story is not quite historically accurate, but it is quite impressive.
He was also famous for circumnavigating the world (1577- 1580) and raiding spanish ships bringing back gold from the Americas. But in 1580 he returned and bought Buckland Abbey, not far from from his birthplace, Tavistock.
He was highly involved in politics and became mayor of Plymouth in 1581. In 1584 he was part of a committee which put a bill through Parliament to allow a leat, which was called Drake’s leat, to be built on Dartmoor to carry water to Plymouth and the ships there. The walls of the buildings which carried water to houses in Plymouth were later remodelled and turned into a reservoir, known as Drake’s reservoir.