Plympton revived the position of Stannator in 1980 as it was felt the town needed a prominent person to take the place of a mayor, when Plympton was swallowed up by its neighbour, Plymouth.
Plympton in the first part of the 1900’s was made up of the four separate communities, Ridgeway, Underwood, Colebrook and St. Maurice or Erle as it was sometimes known. Each had its own character and clearly defined boundaries but with the passage of time and especially after the town was absorbed inside Plymouth city’s boundaries in 1967 Plympton has become one large town with new housing estates and industrial sites linking everything together. Fortunately St.Maurice has escaped much of this development and has managed to retain its identity, due mainly to it being established as a conservation area shortly after the take over by Plymouth.
Difficult to believe today but in medieval times Plympton was a busy port and an important ecclesiastical centre. The Plym estuary was navigable for ships to moor and unload their cargo almost to St. Mary’s Church, there was probably a sea wall following the line of what is now Market Road. Also close by was Plympton Priory, first mentioned in a Saxon document in 904 A.D. It grew from a Saxon college into the third most important Augustinian Priory in England. In 1328 Plympton became a Stannary town where tin was bought to be assayed. Sadly it was a result of the tin miners’ activities on Dartmoor that caused the decline in Plympton’s importance. Streaming for tin on the moors caused silt and debris to be washed into Tory Brook, which gradually silted up the estuary and made it impossible for ships to navigate the channels. With the dissolution of the monasteries in 1539 by Henry VIII Plympton’s fine Augustinian Priory was also closed down and sold off as valuable building material.
So the Plympton we see today may be a suburb of Plymouth but it is a town steeped in history and one in which we should be proud to live and work in.
Plympton with 35,000 people, has a much larger population than many towns with their own Chamber of Commerce, and retains a distinct identity as an historic stannary town.