John Hawkins Railings

When viewed from the correct angle the blue railings reveal a famous order given by Sir John Hawkins to the fleet off northern Spain in 1564. The quote reads "Serve God daily, love one another, preserve your victuals, beware of fire and keep good company".

Photograph of the John Hawkins railings in MillbayCategory: Permanent
Date: 1999
Location: View on our Public Art Map [desktop and tablet; requires Google sign-in]
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Plymouth City Council



Project Description

The railings are sited on Millbay Road between the entrances to Brittany Street and Hobart Street. Due to the optical nature of the work the best view of the full quote is achieved by standing across the road directly opposite.

Photograph of the John Hawkins Railings

Sir John Hawkins was an Elizabethan shipbuilder and merchant, setting sailing on many voyages, occasionally accompanied by his cousin Sir Francis Drake. In 1562 he sailed from the Barbican in Plymouth with 3 ships and kidnapped 400 Africans in Guinea. This was the beginning of Britain’s involvement with the slave trade. Descendants of Hawkins have since travelled to Africa to apologise for their ancestors actions.