Trend helps the residents of Plymouth enjoy some park life

Dubbed Britain's Ocean City, Plymouth is synonymous with water and has recently completed a renovation of the historic Drake’s Place gardens and reservoir. Controlling the use of water in the fountains of this impressive public park was a priority and state-of-the-art technology from Trend Control Systems has been used throughout.

Located in Plymouth’s North Hill, and named after one of the nation’s most famous seamen, Sir Francis Drake, Drake’s Place once housed the city’s main water supply. Both the gardens and reservoir date back to the nineteenth century, and was once the location of Drake’s Mills, which supplied Plymouth and its immediate vicinity with flour.

In 2007, Plymouth University took over the lease of Drake’s Place from Plymouth City Council and in December 2013 work began to transform this important part of the city’s heritage back into the life of the community. Completed in June 2014 at a cost £1.4m, the project has been made possible thanks to the Heritage Lottery Fund and Big Lottery Fund, plus significant investment from Plymouth University. Now a stunning public area, the fountains have also been reinstated along with the cascade and stream that run through the gardens, which have been replanted according to the original 1910 design.

Regulation regarding the water purity in public areas and the need to reduce the dangers posed by the bacteria that cause Legionnaires’ disease means that it is important to control the height and spray of the water from the fountains and make sure that droplets are not able to reach members of the public in the walking and seating areas. 

At the beginning of the project Plymouth based M&E consultants, Hydrock, were tasked with designing a system that could achieve this. Once the design had been finalised, local engineers WH Joce and Sons were called in to develop the system and they in turn contacted controls experts, KK Controls & Equipment Limited. Project Manager of KK Controls, Mark Freeman, takes up the story, ‘When WH Joce contacted us and explained the nature of the requirement, we were instantly interested, as it is quite different from our usual controls based work.

Also, our involvement with Plymouth University goes back many years and as a Trend Systems Integrator we have installed a number of the University’s Building Energy Management Systems (BEMS) across its estate. I was certain that Trend would have the equipment needed to configure the perfect solution for Drake’s Place.’

Freeman and his team quickly identified the need to regulate the water expelled via the fountains and designed a system based on water being pumped from the reservoir. These pumps, located at the bottom of the reservoir itself, are connected to the main plant room using Trend’s NXL inverters and controlled using a combination of Trend’s industry leading IQ®3 and IQ®4 controllers. Asked to explain their features and benefits, Simon Bathard, Business Development Manager at Trend, replies, ‘By communicating via Ethernet, IQ®3 and IQ®4 controllers can integrate seamlessly with a client’s IT network and the embedded web server enables access from anywhere in the world, without the need for proprietary software.’

The entire system was networked using Category 5e cable that was installed during the redevelopment works and which connects to a nearby building. This is also used to link the two weather stations that monitor the wind direction and speed status. KK Controls & Equipment’s Mark Freeman, explains, ‘We were able to use existing data cable for one of the weather stations, which is positioned at the top of a five storey building. This ensures that the information gathered is as accurate as possible and allows the amount of water fed into the fountains to be accurately restricted to maintain the safety of the public.’

Legionella pneumophila bacteria are common in natural water sources such as rivers, lakes and reservoirs, but usually in low numbers. However, particularly in warmer temperatures, they can proliferate, which is why Plymouth University wanted to ensure that water spray and droplets are kept out of contact with visitors to Drake’s Place as much as possible. Thanks to the Trend equipment, Plymouth University’s BMS Maintenance Manager, Peter Bellan, is able to monitor, control and respond to a range of conditions relating to the status of the water. He can then use the data to make any required adjustments such as being able to automatically vary the function of the fountains at different times of the day during periods of high and low visitor attendance.

The system has worked perfectly since being commissioned and its in-built safety cut-out feature has only been used once, when a discarded plastic carrier bag found its way to the bottom of the reservoir and blocked the pump inlet. The inverter initiated a protection trip, which allowed it to be removed, avoiding any potential damage.

Plymouth University’s Peter Bellan believes that the new Trend control system ticks all the boxes. He concludes, ‘Not only is it easy to use, fast and accurate, the ability to monitor the system’s status in real time is incredibly useful. KK Controls & Equipment did an excellent job in using the latest control technology in a way that complements the visual impact of Drake’s Place to help create a place that will be enjoyed by the residents of Plymouth for years to come.’

For further information please call Trend Marketing on 01403 211888 or email


About Us

With a worldwide distribution and support network covering over 50 countries, Trend Control Systems is a major international supplier of building energy management solutions (BEMS). In the UK, it possesses a larger installed system base than any other brand. The vast majority of Trend’s control systems are supplied, engineered and commissioned by approved systems integrators.



Quick facts

Drake’s Place is located in Plymouth’s North Hill, and named after one of the nation’s most famous seamen, Sir Francis Drake.
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Plymouth is dubbed 'Britain's Ocean City'
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