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Royal William Yard

royal william yard

Discover Plymouth’s Royal William Yard

Once a bustling Victorian hub for Royal Navy victualling, today Plymouth’s Royal William Yard offers families a fascinating insight into the city’s maritime heritage alongside trendy cafes, shops and adventure activities.

The sweeping neoclassical former factory buildings have been beautifully transformed into a popular waterfront destination. Here’s a guide to making the most of a family day out experiencing Plymouth’s Royal William Yard.


Getting There

Royal William Yard is an easy walk around 15 minutes west of Plymouth city centre and Barbican harbourside along the coast path. Located in Stonehouse, it’s well signposted from the city.

Limited parking is available at Royal William Yard with additional parking at the Cremyll Street long stay car park 5 minutes away.

Cycling is another popular and easy way to get to Royal William Yard. They have plenty of spaces to lock up your bike.

You could travel to the yard by boat. Pick up the The Barbican, Royal William Yard and Mount Edgcumbe Ferry service. It links these 3 great Plymouth locations and is run by Plymouth Boat Trips.

Frequent buses connect Stonehouse with the city centre. You can catch the Plymouth Citybus 34 Service which leaves from Royal Parade every 30 mins. This takes you to the main gate of Royal William Yard. The journey takes about 10 – 12 minutes. There are other buses to Stonehouse bridge (5/5A and 21/21A) which is a 10 minute walk to the Yard.

Opening Times

Royal William Yard is open daily with most shops and attractions open from 10am to 5pm. Some bars and restaurants are open into the evenings. The yard itself is always open to wander round.

Check individual business and attraction websites for their latest opening times if wanting to visit specific places. The yard hosts events regularly, especially at weekends. They have craft fairs, comedy nights, paddle boarding lessons and more.

royal william yard

Price and Tickets

Entry into Royal William Yard itself is free with no admission costs. Paid attractions include boat tours, climbing and certain events which have their own pricing. On-site parking charges apply.

Top Things to See and Do

Attractions and activities families can enjoy at Royal William Yard include:

  • Exploring the sweeping cobblestone Parade and grand factory buildings fronting the water.
  • Climbing to the roof of the striking Melville building for panoramic views over the Tamar.
  • Learning about the Yard’s Victorian history at the information hub. See artefacts like vinegar barrels.
  • Watching talented craftspeople at work in the artist studios and bakery.
  • Sampling locally roasted coffee and artisan bread baked on site.
  • The family-friendly restaurants like Hooked fish and chips.
  • Boutique shops for homeware, gifts and fashion.
  • Boat trips from the Harbour steps to explore Plymouth’s coastal sights.
  • Paddleboarding adventures for older kids using the purpose-built launching pontoon.
basin at royal william yard

Seasonal Events

As well as its permanent attractions, the yard hosts fun events year-round like:

  • Food festivals showcasing local produce and cuisines.
  • Free outdoor theatre productions and movie showings.
  • Christmas markets with carols and gifts in December.
  • Outdoor dining events – long tables stretched across the Parade lit by fairy lights.
cafe at royal william yard

History of Royal William Yard

Constructed between 1826 and 1835, the yard was commissioned by King William IV to serve as a naval victualling yard, providing provisions and supplies for the Royal Navy’s fleet. Designed by the eminent architect Sir John Rennie, the yard was an architectural masterpiece, featuring innovative construction techniques and a grand scale.

For decades, the Royal William Yard played a pivotal role in supporting the British naval forces during times of peace and conflict. Its strategic location along the shores of the Plymouth Sound facilitated efficient transportation of goods to the fleet. The yard continued its naval operations until the latter half of the 20th century, witnessing the evolution of maritime technology and tactics.

In recent years, the historic buildings have undergone extensive restoration and revitalization. Today, visitors can stroll through its cobbled streets, appreciating the fusion of maritime history and contemporary urban living.

royal william yard plymouth

Frequently Asked Questions

Are dogs allowed? – Most outdoor areas are dog-friendly, but individual establishments may have their own pet policies. Always check before entering.

Is it wheelchair accessible? – Yes, most of the establishments at the yard are wheelchair friendly, although it may be worth checking in specific shops and restaurants if you are making a booking.

Are you allowed to fish at the Yard? – Yes, fishing is popular here.

boats in plymouth royal william yard

Nearby Attractions

Pair with other Plymouth favourites like:

  • Tinside Lido – Iconic art deco outdoor swimming pool on Plymouth Hoe offering scenic swimming. Also has a cafe.
  • Saltram House – Elegant Georgian mansion with impressive interiors and gardens designed by Capability Brown. National Trust property.
  • Drake’s Island – Small island in Plymouth Sound with a rich history as a fort, prison and adventure centre. Boat trips available.
  • Plymouth Boat Trips – See the sights of Plymouth from the water including the breakwater, harbour, and Mount Edgcumbe.
  • Plymouth Gin Distillery – Tour the oldest working gin distillery in England and enjoy tutored tastings. Cocktail making classes too.
  • Plymouth Aquarium – Family friendly aquarium housing over 40 exhibits showcasing local and exotic aquatic life. See sharks, rays, fish and more.
  • Devonport Dockyard – Historically important Royal Navy dockyard. Home to the Submarine Museum, ships and historic boatyard buildings.
  • Mount Edgcumbe House – Scenic country house with impressive grounds, gardens and orangery set across the River Plym from Plymouth.
  • Buckfast Abbey – Working Benedictine monastery with medieval church, monk’s herb garden and grounds. Shop sells homemade produce.

With its blend of heritage, cuisine, arts and adventure, Royal William Yard offers the perfect ingredients for a fab family day out discovering seaside Plymouth.

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