©  Brian Moseley, Plymouth
Webpage created: July 06, 2017
Webpage updated: July 19, 2022




Two curiously identical pictures of the Hoe Floral Cafe but with
different people in each.
Note the reflection of the tree branches on the roof panels.
Both from postcards.

Following the destruction of the old Tea Pavilion, the need for catering facilities to serve visitors to the Hoe became urgent and in 1947 the decision was taken to erect a temporary building for this purpose.  Of all the structures readily available at that time, a "Blister" hangar was seen as the most suitable and action was taken to acquire one from the Air Ministry.  After protracted negotiations, the Council purchased five such hangars in situ on the Royal Air Force Aerodrome at Harrowbeer, Yelverton.  They cost approximately £100 each.  They were dismantled and re-erected in the new Council Works Depot at Prince Rock while one was placed on the site of the old Pavilion on the Hoe.

Seven bays of the hangar were used in the Cafe, giving a covered area of approximately 20ft x 53ft.   A concrete raft was laid over the site and the hangar erected thereon, no special foundations being required for the ribs, which were lightly loaded.  The ends of the hangar as normally used by the Air Ministry were closed by curtains and it was therefore necessary to design and erect steel frame gables to present a reasonable façade.  The elevation facing the sea was conditioned by the necessity of obtaining as much side lighting as possible and a large area of access from outside into the Cafe.  The other end was treated differently to incorporate toilet facilities and kitchen and bowling pavilion access.

The flooring, partitioning and as much as possible of the gables were constructed with second-hand and salvaged material to economise in cost and use of new building material.  Drainage and other services were already on site from the previous  building. The total cost of the work was £4,000 of which £2,400 represented the cost of the building and £1,600, that of the equipment.

On July 3rd 1947 it was reported that 'Good progress is being made with the construction of the Hoe cafe'.  It had a platform and a musicians' gallery.

It was opened on Wednesday July 16th 1947 by the Lord Mayor, Mr W H Taylor.

In the first ten days the takings were over £700.  But also taken were -- 50 glasses, 25 knives, 30 ice plates, 24 tea spoons, 20 forks and 15 dessert spoons.

On Coronation Day, Tuesday June 2nd 1953, the cafe was open from 9am until midnight, during which 5,000 pasties were sold and the takings were more than double that taken on any previous day.  The City Entertainments Manager, Mr Percy Cole, said: "We could have sold a lot more".

The Hoe Floral Cafe was closed in 1981 and demolished in May and June of 1982 by Messrs Plant Dismantlers, of Plymouth, at a cost of £1,500.   It is believed that the frame was sold to a farmer for housing cattle and agricultural equipment.  It was joined between 1965 and 1988 by the Mallard Cafe on the front of the Hoe overlooking Plymouth Sound. 


  Coronation Day research courtesy of Debbie Watson.