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What’s Wrong With Mutley Plain?

What's Wrong With Mutley Plain?

I was on Mutley Plain the other day. While I was there I had time to really study the place. I noticed that there are a few things marring it’s potential perfection. I like Mutley Plain but these things are preventing it from being a really satisfactory place to be.

Public Inconveniences

The public conveniences look like a Greek temple on the outside and smell like a Greek toilet on the inside. Frankly they don’t live up to the promise, and I for one would have to be very desperate indeed to use them.

Whats Wrong With Mutley Plain?

The toilets look like a Greek temple outside but smell like a Greek toilet inside

Too Many Pubs

There are too many pubs for one high street in my opinion. This contributes to the herds of befuddled, boisterous inebriates that weave noisily around on Friday and Saturday nights. Mutley Plain on these nights is not a family-friendly location.

Unfortunate Street Furniture

‘Jauntily-coloured’ planters that might look appropriate for a beach front in Spain are dotted along Mutley Plain. They look wildly inappropriate for a high street with buildings that date back to Victorian times. After a few years of rain and sun, they now look sad and bedraggled, with their bright colours obscured by layers of grime.

The multi-coloured seats that match the planters are an equally sorry sight. They’ve been there for some years now but I have yet to see anyone sit on one, ever. Apart from looking extremely uncomfortable, they don’t look very clean, and I for one would feel very foolish perched on one.

What's Wrong With Mutley Plain?

Now what could possibly be wrong with this street furniture?

Soviet Style Railings

The utilitarian railings running down the middle of Mutley Plain are grey, dreary and put me in mind of something out of Soviet Russia. To make matters worse, several years ago some bright spark thought that adding some ‘decorations’ would improve them.

Unfortunately, these embellishments look as if someone has taken handfuls of mud and thrown them with great force, causing a few clods to stick to the railings. Also you can’t see the detail on them unless you take your life in your hands and cross two lanes of busy traffic.

Whats Wrong With Mutley Plain?

Beautiful battleship-grey railings divide Mutley Plain down the middle

Not Enough Trees

There aren’t enough nearly enough trees. This photo by Francis Frith taken in 1904 shows Mutley Plain to be an elegant tree-lined high street. It could hardly be described as elegant now, but perhaps if the few lonely trees that remain were added to, then it could improve the overall appearance of the street. Plus, it would add a little much-needed shade in the summer.

Photo of Plymouth, Mutley Plain 1904, ref. 52413

Reproduced courtesy of Francis Frith.

Have Your Say

Mutley Plain has been a landmark of Plymouth for hundreds of years. It’s also a major route to and from the City Centre for thousands of people every day. It has the potential to be a great place if we could just iron out the few negatives I’ve mentioned in this article. I want to hear from you though. If I’ve missed anything out please let me know which features make Mutley Plain a lovely or loathsome location by leaving a comment below.

Don’t Miss: What’s Right With Mutley Plain? (coming soon to

Editor: Lynne Mashhadi

Lynne Mashhadi is co-Founder of, Partner in Design Inspiration and Founder of Lynne is an experienced writer and content curator with a keen interest in Plymouth. Lynne is known in the local social media scene as a champion of Plymouth's heritage. For more generations than she can count, her family has lived in Devon and Cornwall. After having lived all over the UK, she settled here over 20 years ago to raise a family.

  • Clive

    I lived in the Mutley area for 6 months between November ’08 to April ’09 – well, College View. I considered the area to have an artistic vibrancy, something akin to London’s Charing Cross Road. I expected antique shops, independent eats, local coffee shops…
    Instead, I actually found the area tired, lacking, wanton, ignored, forgotten. The only excitement being the avoidance of drunks spilling, like their drinks, out of the copious pubs.
    The area has the desire and ability to be more. It takes a forward-thinking conservation group, an innovative local authority, a vision, a will, and a pot of cash to make Mutley Plain, less Mutley and less plain.

  • Jon Anderson

    Trees and grass - showcasing everything good in Plymouth

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