The island, named after Sir Francis Drake, has stood untouched for 30 years and now has planning permission for a hotel complex

Drake’s Island, the historic fortress island in the heart of Plymouth Sound, Devon, has gone on sale for £6 million.

Drake’s Island, named after Sir Francis Drake who set sail from the island in 1577 to circumnavigate the globe, stands 600m off Plymouth’s shore and played an important role in defending the city.

It helped fend off the French and Spanish in the late 16th century and later protected Plymouth from Royalist attack during the Civil War.  The island has since been a prison, religious centre, refuge and most recently an adventure training facility, which closed in 1989. The island’s Grade II listed buildings, which date back to 1860, are clearly visible from the shore.

Canon on Drake's Island

Drake’s Island has remained untouched for 30 years and in spring 2017, Plymouth City Council granted planning permission to create a luxury hotel complex including the conversion of the existing buildings and the casemated battery along with significant infrastructure works.

The numerous buildings on the island stem back to its historic, military past. These range from the original, Grade II listed Governor’s House, built circa 1830 overlooking the entrance to the island from the pier, and adjoining barracks facing west, to the casemates and battery which housed major armaments to protect the city against attack from the sea.

Drake's Island buildings

There is also an extensive underground tunnel network which runs through the east of the island, along with remains of Tudor fortifications and traces of the island’s role as a prison during the reign of Charles II.

The island is being marketed by property company JLL on behalf of Rotolok, the island’s owner. JLL are offering the freehold for sale at a guide price of £6m and is inviting bids from interested parties.

Aidan McCauley from Rotolok, commented: “My dad, Dan McCauley, bought the island in the 1990s. As the previous chairman of Plymouth Argyle Football Club, he has a close affinity with the city and has long-held a vision to see the island brought back into use. As a family and as a company, we are passionate about seeing his vision turned into a reality and are exploring all options to make this happen.”


Dan and Aidan McCauley owners of Drake's Island

Dan and Aidan McCauley

John Kinsey, director at JLL in Exeter, said: “Drake’s Island is a remarkable piece of British history and a much-loved landmark that the Plymouth community holds close to its heart. It has long been the owners’ priority to bring the island back into sustainable use for the benefit of visitors, local residents and the wider economy.

“With the added attraction of planning permission for a luxury hotel and spa this is a unique opportunity to lead one of the South West’s most exciting and unusual developments. But of course, that’s only one permitted approach. Now being sold freehold, it means the future is wide open for this historic island.”

The island was featured on the BBC’s Secret Britain series and in Hidden Britain by Drone with Tony Robinson on Channel 4.