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Drake’s Island fortress to reopen as museum and heritage centre after plans announced


Drake’s Island, a former fort and prison located off the coast of Plymouth, UK, is set to reopen on 15 March for a one-off tour after closing more than 30 years ago, with further plans to open a museum and heritage centre on-site.

Covering 24,000sq m (261,000sq ft), the island, named for renowned Elizabethan adventurer Sir Francis Drake, is home to a 16th-century barracks, a network of underground tunnels and a pier. It boasts a rich history, with stories of brandy smuggling, as well as a 1957 hoax ’invasion’ by a band of schoolboys.

Closed to the public in 1989, Drake’s Island has planning permission for a luxury hotel and spa, which was granted in 2017. Current plans include a living museum and heritage centre, while a water sports centre is also under consideration. The island was purchased in August 2019 by Plymouth businessman Morgan Phillips – a former Royal Navy engineer and founder of Guardian Industrial UK.

Following the on-off tour, Phillips plans to reopen the island fully, with the museum and heritage centre at the heart of those plans. In a statement, he said that he wanted to “restore it for the people of Plymouth and visitors”.

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