Exeter, Devon - April 04, 1982
The Exeter Phoenix, Princesshay, erected to commemorate the rebuilding of the City of Exeter in the 1950s following the World War II blitz. It is seen here in its original location within the 1950s built Princesshay shopping precinct.
This fine emblem, of a rising Phoenix, can be found in Princesshay Lane next to the entrance to Topshop. It shows a Phoenix rising from the flames of the blitz, and represents the rebuilding of Exeter after the blitz of April and May 1942. It was placed in the centre of the old Princesshay, in 1957, above the pedestrian way next to the Hughes Garage showroom–the showroom became a furniture and carpet store in later years, before Princesshay was rebuilt in the 2000s. Hughes Garage's old showroom, known as the Bedford Garage had been destroyed in the blitz of 1942.
A plaque under the piece stated –
This Phoenix commemorates the erection of this building by
Hughes of Exeter
on the site of their former premises
destroyed by enemy action in May
Land Securities, the developers, put a nicely restored rising Phoenix on a wall in Princesshay Lane, next to Topshop.
In 1946, Thomas Sharp presented a plan for the rebuilding of Exeter. His Exeter Phoenix plan was designed to retain the historic feel of Exeter, while at the same time create a modern city to serve the needs of its post war people. The rebuilding of Princesshay and the High Street were completed in the 1950s, but much of the rest of his vision was never fulfilled. It was the naming of Sharp's book 'Exeter Phoenix' that inspired the rising Phoenix of Hughes Garage, as well as the naming of the Phoenix Art Centre and the mechanical phoenix over its facade.
(Source: Exeter Memories - www.exetermemories.co.uk)