Brian Moseley, Plymouth
Webpage created: February 03, 2016.
Webpage updated: March 01, 2016

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With the opening of the new Plymouth-Dock Town Hall in 1821 civic pride in the Town was at its highest and the townsfolk wanted to break away from their parent, Plymouth.  They petitioned King George IV to have the name of the Town changed to something more significant and appropriate, Devonport, the Port of Devon.  This was granted and took effect on January 1st 1824.  Now something was needed to celebrate the event and Mr John Foulston, the architect of the Town Hall, was asked to provide a design.

This was in the form of a Greek Doric column, to be erected on the highest point in the Town, near the old wind mill.  It was to rest on a rock that was itself 23 feet above the level of Ker Street and the base, including the plinth, was a further 24 in height.  The fluted Column itself was to be 11 feet in diameter and 65 feet tall to the capital.  Above that was the 12 feet high pedestal upon which it was planned to place a statue of King George IV.  The abacus of the capital is in four stones, each weighing between three and four tons.  From street level the Column would thus be 124 feet tall.  It was to be funded by subscriptions in 20 shares.

The foundation stone was laid in 1824 and the contract for its construction let to Mr John Luscombe Rickard (1793-1831), of Devonport.  Sadly many of the promised subscriptions failed to be honoured when the time came to pay up and the statue of the King had to be omitted.  The Column was completed in 1827 and a replica in silver gilt was presented to His Royal Highness, the Duke of Clarence, who was regarded as 'the real author of the concession'.  A medal was also struck and one added to the Mayoral chain of office. 

Owing to the failure to pay the builder for his work, the Column was owned by him and upon his death in 1831 passed to his widow, Mary, and their six children.  An entrance charge was made to climb the granite steps and take in the view from the top.  Devonport Corporation did not manage to acquire The Column until 1887.

During the Great War it was leased by the military and after the Second World War entrance was restricted due to the railings surrounding the open deck being unsafe.  It was completely closed to the public in 1992 but being renovated is now open again.