The great-great-grandson of a former Mayor of Plymouth has handed the 130 year old key to Smeaton’s Tower over to Plymouth City Council’s current Lord Mayor Councillor Mike Fox.
The key, which dates back to 1884 and was used for the opening of Smeaton’s Tower the same year, and the Lord Mayor’s 1884 year book belonged to the Mayor of Plymouth of the time, John Greenway. On Wednesday 25 September, 130 years after the opening of Smeaton’s Tower, John Greenway’s great-great-grandson William Astley-Jones, presented both the key and the book.
The book, which contains detail on both the opening of Smeaton’s Tower and the unveiling of the Drake Memorial in the same year, and the key, will be on permanent public display in Council House.
Mr Astley-Jones, who has travelled down from his home in Glasgow especially to hand over the key, said: “I am delighted to be able to hand over these historic artefacts to Plymouth City Council so that everyone in Plymouth can see them. The key and book were originally given to my great-great grandfather as a personal gift but I know they are of great local and historical interest.
“I first visited Plymouth in 1957 at the age of 16 and I am very proud of my family’s historic links with the City.”
One person who helped facilitate the key handover was Barry Brooking, a former magistrate from Plymouth, who met William Astley-Jones at the recent funeral of Peter Jakeman, a former Plymouth Justice of the Peace. Mr Astley-Jones mentioned at the funeral that he had the key and the book and wanted them to be available for all to enjoy in Plymouth, and Mr Brooking contacted the Lord Mayor’s office at Plymouth City Council to help organise the handover.
Councillor Mike Fox, Lord Mayor of Plymouth, said: “We are very excited about this find, and it is very fitting that we will be handed the key exactly 130 years to the day since Smeaton’s Tower was officially opened on Plymouth Hoe.
“Plymouth City Council is very grateful to Mr Astley-Jones for sharing these with us.”
- Smeaton’s Tower in its current form opened on Plymouth Hoe on 24 September 1884, having been almost entirely rebuilt as a memorial to John Smeaton, engineer and original designer. But the history of Smeaton’s Tower goes back even further than this. In a previous life, Smeaton’s Tower had been a lighthouse in use from 1759 to 1877 as one of the original Eddystone Lighthouses. It was dismantled and rebuilt on Plymouth Hoe as a permanent memorial and is to this day one of Plymouth’s most iconic buildings and popular tourist attractions.