LARS On Location: The Gateway to Cornwall
26 August 2020
Our rigging teams were in Saltash for just a few days, installing microwave antenna systems on the telecommunications tower overlooking the River Tamar. Unfortunately, this was very much a work visit and they didn’t get much of a chance to explore. So, we thought we’d do it for them, virtually.
The Gateway to Cornwall
Located just across the River Tamar from Plymouth, Saltash is the first town you come to when you cross the Tamar Bridge into Cornwall, hence its moniker, ‘The Gateway to Cornwall’.
Those travelling by train will cross Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s Royal Albert Bridge, a towering 134-foot bridge which was built in the 1850s and opened by Prince Albert in 1859.
Running alongside the Royal Albert Bridge is the Tamar Bridge, a toll bridge which carries the A38 trunk road. Little known fact alert – in 2001, Tamar Bridge became the first suspension bridge to be widened whilst remaining open to traffic. It was also the first suspension bridge in the world to be widened using cantilever platforms. You never know, this might come in useful one day.
Nowadays, Saltash is thriving town of around 16,000 people with a lively shopping centre, a host of independent stores and an array of pubs, restaurants and cafés. From Saltash, it’s easy to travel further into Cornwall – the picturesque fishing villages of Looe and Polperro, both popular tourist destinations, are within half an hour’s drive (unless it’s the height of summer of course).
Polperro itself is considered to be one of the prettiest villages in Cornwall with a rich history of smuggling – read more here http://www.cornwall-online.co.uk/caradon/polperro.htm
But we digress. Founded in the twelfth century, long before our tower installation work, Saltash is the oldest borough in Cornwall and the seventh largest town. That said, most of the Civil Parish of Saltash is a picturesque and largely unspoilt rural landscape of hills and valleys, woods and streams, with more than half of it a designated area of outstanding natural beauty.
Mary Newman and Sir Francis Drake
One of the most famous people associated with Saltash is Sir Francis Drake who married local girl, Mary Newman, although her connection to Saltash is a little tenuous.
Mary Newman’s Cottage is one of Saltash’s attractions. Built around 1480, the Grade II listed cottage is the oldest building in Saltash. To be honest, many reports suggest that it’s unlikely she ever lived there. Despite that, the link became well-established in the mind of the locals, meaning the cottage was saved from the widespread demolition of old property at Waterside which occurred in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s. Today, it’s furnished with period furniture and the garden has been laid out in an authentic Elizabethan style, showcasing the plants and herbs which were vital to a household of the period.
Another draw for summer visitors to Saltash is Trematon Castle, a motte-and-bailey castle dating back to the 11th Century.
The castle was initially raised after the Norman Conquest and at the time of the Domesday survey in 1086, was in the hands of Robert, Count of Mortain.
However, having passed through several hands, including the Crown, by the mid-sixteenth century Trematon Castle was in ruins. It continued to serve several purposes, including a safe place for Sir Francis Drake to store his captured treasures and as a prison for captured Spaniards during the Elizabethan wars in the 1590’s.
In the early nineteenth century, the castle was leased out on a long-term basis. One of the tenants, D A Alexander, built Trematon Manor within the bailey, demolishing parts of the medieval curtain wall to ensure he had a better view. In 2012, the castle’s grounds were converted into a garden.
Worth a visit
We do love having the chance to visit such interesting places, but sometimes it would be nice to be able to explore. Saltash and the surrounding area is steeped in so much history, with so much to see and do. From Victorian pubs to kayaking, regattas to country walks, there is something for everyone in Saltash.
It’s a shame we didn’t know all of this when we carried out our tower installation work. We’d definitely have stopped for a little longer.
For more information about our tower installation work, click here.
And below are a few websites with more information about Saltash and its attractions.