History 1800 to 1850

In 1806 Benjamin Tucker took a 90 year lease of Trematon Castle. He cleared away the ruined buildings, and demolished parts of the bailey wall to make a new vehicular access and provide a view of the estuaries from the 9-bedroomed house which he built using some of the stone from the demolished walls. He also built two lodges, an orangery, glass-houses, stables and other outbuildings, and laid out gardens containing mock ruins into which he incorporated several carved stone doorways salvaged from the clearance work in the bailey.

At this time George Coad, a Methodist, was employed as the carrier of letters from Plymouth to Saltash. Each time he had to wait for the ferry-boat on the Devon side, he would gather from the beach all the large stones he could carry and bring them across to deposit them three-quarters of the way up the steep incline of Lower Fore Street, where they were used to build Saltash's first Methodist Chapel in 1808. He inspired enough people that within thirty years two more Chapels were built, at Trematon and Forder.

Fore Street, although not easy to ascend on horseback, was now the principal street in a town which was rapidly growing. The streets following the contours of the slopes above the waterside were lined with two- and three- storey houses, many with ground-floor shops selling the local shellfish, and the quays were busy with fishing and boat building. The population of the borough rose from 1,150 in 1801 to 1,637 by 1831, and the 1830 Post Office directory for Saltash lists plumbers, ironmongers, butchers, bakers, drapers, shoemakers, tailors, grocers, and a druggist, as well as numerous shopkeepers, all working in the town.

Other industries flourished away from the town. As well as the orchards and market gardens, there were several quarries in operation, and Burraton Coombe had a tannery – in fact, for a while it had two tanneries, as a new one was opened for business in 1843, some thirty years before the old one closed.

In 1832 a private company obtained an Act of Parliament for the purpose of purchasing the ferry rights of the Saltash Corporation, and established a new steam-powered 'floating bridge' ferry running along chains. A year or two later, however, the floating bridge was withdrawn for repairs, and the old 'horse boats', each rowed by two men, were put on again. This state of affairs continued for some time, and complaints arose that the higher tolls for the steam-powered ferry were still being charged for passage on the horse boats. The Corporation thereupon decided that the rights sold to the promoters of the Floating Bridge Act had lapsed and reverted to the Corporation. Accordingly, in 1833, they again put on their own horse boats at the original fare. Both the Corporation and those claiming under the Act proceeded to run rival horse boats until an arrangement was finally arrived at in 1839, by which the ancient ferry rights once more reverted to the Corporation. Access to the ferry was greatly improved in 1834 when the Turnpike Trust constructed a new route from the ferry pier north west to South Pill and improved the existing road from there to Burraton Cross.

The area around the town quay was by this time packed with buildings, and the area around Sand Quay continued to develop, spurred on by the new access road. There was a ship yard, a quarry in the cliff on the western side of the new road, and there were limekilns at the water's edge. The waterside had in many respects developed its own identity, reinforced by the 1835 founding of the Saltash Regatta, which quickly became established as an important community event. By 1840 the first cottages had been built along the eastern side of the new road, adjacent to the river. The town also began to expand further westwards, with a number of detached villas built on the roads to Callington and St Stephens, and a new building on Church Road erected in 1843 for the St Stephens National School.

In the Manor of Trematon, the ancient feudal services, payments, fines, etc. were still in force until 1844, when an Act of Parliament was passed commuting all such payments by the tenants to a small fixed annual charge.

Taking it still further away from its medieval past, Saltash was chosen as the site for the Cornwall Railway Company's new bridge across the Tamar, and the preparations for a bow and chain bridge, to the design of Isambard Kingdom Brunel, began in 1848.

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page updated 2016-06-07

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