Stonehouse Library is now open!

There’s a rainbow of books on the shelves of the new Ocean Publishing Library as more than two thousand books have been filed according to colour. All the books have been donated. You’ll find best sellers and Classic Literature as well as some wonderful obscure titles, such as, Victorian Tales of Mystery and Detection and Pine Furniture Making.

The library has been set up in the café area of Ocean Studios in the Royal William Yard to encourage people to take a book along with some time to read it. As Alan Qualtrough, one of its proprietors says, the books are there to be enjoyed:

“The library is for everyone, the books are free to come and go, and its success will be measured by the number of titles that are off the shelves.”

Every library needs librarians and proprietor Emma Slate of Slate Publishing is hoping that local residents might be keen to volunteer as ‘caretakers of the books’.

“We hope that, as the first library in Stonehouse, people will make this their own. We’ll be doing what we can, putting on ‘rhyme-time’ sessions for children and hosting a regular book club but, really, we want this to be a place that belongs to the community.”

And because Ocean Publishing Library is about ‘publishing’, Alan and Emma are also encouraging people to write their own stories. Next month they will be starting the first of a series of Creative Writing Workshops for ten-to-twelve people including, among other things, ‘flash fiction’; poetry; lyrics and ‘experimental’ writing. At the end of the project, those participating will help to print a booklet of their finished work on one of the original printing presses within Ocean Studios. The booklet of published work from Stonehouse writers will then be available to everyone and, in doing so, help to ensure that the Ocean Publishing Library is succeeding in making literacy matter in Stonehouse.

Anyone interested in helping out with the library or taking part in the workshops can contact

A bold and brave Community Plan for Union Street

The first phase of a radical and ambitious plan to bring about positive, lasting change for Union Street is being launched this month. Nudge Community Builders, who have been working on the street for the last six years, are urging residents, business-owners and visitors to share their thoughts and ideas on how we might bring about long-lasting change to this historic part of the city.

Union street is world famous. Opened nearly 200 years ago as New Road in 1825, it brought together the three distinct towns of Stonehouse, Devonport and Plymouth.

Many of the original buildings, described in a guide book of 1823 as “neat and handsome, almost entirely occupied by genteel families”, were bombed during the Blitz and post-war Union Street would became notorious for significantly-less ‘genteel’ activities. Known as “The Strip” for decades, it consisted of more than 100 pubs, strip joints and nightclubs.

Many buildings are standing empty on the street, owned by distant landlords who aren’t investing in them. But over the last six years, Nudge Community Builders has been slowly and steadily working with the community to repurpose some of those empty buildings; re-energising, re-imagining the area and making it relevant again.

This change has happened alongside lots of organisations and small businesses
contributing to the area including the Millfields Trust, Plymouth Scrapstore and the Yoga Lofts, and small businesses like Cawfee, A Taskinah and Cabinet Supplies.

Hannah Sloggett, from Nudge, says Union Street requires a greater transition, one which will create lasting social and economic change through creativity, love and care:

“Community ownership and local solutions are key to creating a future that is resilient and provides opportunity for local people. So far, we have been tactical and disruptive, and our community has come together to make a real difference, but there is a lot more to do. The Mistress Plan is the first phase of the Stonehouse mission: together we can reimagine a future where everyone is included.”

Nudge, in partnership with several key organisations, including POP, Plymouth Culture and Plymouth Social Enterprise Network, is inviting everyone who has an interest in the area to co-design a Mistress Plan so that it will shape and sustain the street for the next hundred years.

“We know,” says Matt Bell from POP, “that only by working with, and for, the community in an open and inclusive way to identify and address local needs, can we hope to bring about the significant long-lasting changes that we all want for Union Street.”

It is deeply understood by POP, Nudge and all the other organisations involved, that
positive lasting change can only happen with the commitment, passion and will of the people. Building a fairer, healthier and happier Stonehouse is the goal.

Please come along to find out more, help write the plan and add ideas on Tuesday 23 April 2024 at The Plot. Drop in anytime from 4—8pm with talks happening at 4.30pm & 6.30pm.