History 2000 onwards
At the very beginning of the new century the Saltash Museum and Local History Centre was launched, together with a Town Heritage Trail, and 2001 saw the long-awaited opening of Saltmill Park, created on 7 hectares (17 acres) of landfill where the medieval tidal mill and mill pond had once been.
Forty years after its completion in 1961, when it was the longest suspension bridge in the UK, the Tamar Bridge made history for the second time. The unique three year project to strengthen and widen the three-lane bridge, closely watched by engineers the world over, was completed in December 2001. Officially opened by Princess Anne on the 26th of April 2002, the Tamar Bridge is the world's first suspension bridge to be widened using cantilever platforms, and the world's first bridge to be strengthened and widened while remaining open to traffic.
In 2003 a new fire station was built on the same site as the previous combined ambulance and fire station which dated from the Second World War. The secondary school was designated a Science and Mathematics & Computing Specialist College in 2004, and renamed itself 'saltash.net community school'. Both the Victorian Burraton Methodist Church and the pre-war Roman Catholic Church were demolished and rebuilt in 2007.
An interesting addition was made to Fore Street in 2009 – a new seat incorporating a mosaic made by Chrissy Wallis from dock dung china. 'Dock dung' was the name given to street sweepings taken from Plymouth Dock, once widely used in the Tamar Valley as fertiliser. The sweepings contained numerous lost or discarded items, among them remnants of china which are still to be found on the local foreshores, fields, and pathways.
Meanwhile, regeneration continued in the waterside area. Huntley Gardens, where the original granite plaque celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Royal Albert Bridge in 1959 can be seen, was created at the north end of Silver Street. Boat, trailer and car parking facilities at Jubilee Green were improved, and the recreational grassed area there was enlarged. A new all-tides floating pontoon was constructed, providing moorings for up to five visiting craft of 30' or less. The access to the existing slipway between Brunel Green and Jubilee Green was widened, and the leading edge tapered to make it more accessible at low tide. The drab front of the Livewire building was brightened up with a colourful mural depicting the old waterfront, and a toddlers play area was installed at the other end of Union Green. A piece of derelict land at the western side of Silver Street was transformed into a sub-tropical garden, promptly dubbed the Hanging Gardens of Saltash, and the old cottage walls revealed in the process were enlivened with 'Fisherfolk', a ceramic mural by Rosie Fierek which depicts imagined scenes from years gone by. 'The Saltash Ferryman', an interactive sculpture designed by John Forster, and a statue of Isambard Kingdom Brunel were added to Union Green.
The two acres of overgrown scrub woodland where Elwell Road once was had been fenced off and neglected for almost fifty years when volunteers began working to clear the undergrowth, lay paths, and plant new trees and flowers. Four years later the project came to a triumphant conclusion when 'The Cornish Cross', a giant 20 metre (66ft) sculpture, designed by Simon Thomas, was erected there. Elwell Woods and The Cornish Cross were officially opened to the public in May 2013. Later that year townsfolk and visitors alike were fascinated by 'Ann Glanville', a life-sized talking model of the famous oarswoman newly seated on a bench in Fore Street.
In August 2015 a long-awaited and much needed footbridge over the A38 at Carkeel roundabout was opened, finally (after almost thirty years) giving pedestrians a safe way to cross the busy bypass.
The Saltash district has a long and varied history – the location of a Celtic tribal capital, a thriving Manor in the middle ages, a place of strategic importance during the Civil War, and now largely part of the Tamar Valley Area of Natural Beauty. The little medieval planned settlement has become one of the largest towns in Cornwall, providing services for the surrounding agricultural area. Despite all the changes of the last 950 years Saltash is still on a major route into Cornwall, has kept a number of historic buildings, and on the whole continues to fulfill the expressed wish of Queen Elizabeth I "that the said town, in all times to come, may be, and remain a town of peace and quietness, to the dread and terror of the bad, and the reward of the good".
page updated 2016-06-07