The spectacular Celtic Cross at Saltash – part of a Community Spaces flagship project – is finally in place after weeks of delays caused by low temperatures and high winds…
The 20-metre cross – designed by Cornish artist Simon Thomas – was lifted into place alongside the Tamar Bridge at Saltash this weekend.
After a 128-mile trip from Newquay via Exeter, the cross was erected late on Saturday night. A 100-tonne crane lifted the structure and a second 80-tonne crane was used to guide it into position.
The Tamar Bridge slip road was partially closed to allow the sculpture to be bolted into place.
Laim Bradley of the Saltash Waterfront Residents’ Association said: “It has taken three years to get the cross in place and it looks remarkable. Simon’s vision has created a stunning piece of public art that will stand as a monument to Cornwall for years to come.
“We would like to thank everyone involved in the project for their commitment and enthusiasm”
The sculpture was originally designed by Simon for the Millennium celebrations. It is a modern interpretation of the traditional Celtic cross, inspired by the Neolithic landscape of Cornwall, its engineering heritage and the modern forward-looking Cornish identity.
Simon said: “The sculpture not only represents a proud Cornish heritage, but also the Cornwall of today which is an exciting and vibrant place, open to new ideas and celebrating its uniqueness.
“The Cornish Cross truly marks the Gateway to Cornwall, inviting visitors and welcoming travellers home.”
Building the cross has been a collaborative process for the company in charge of construction. Gateguards, based at Newquay Airport, has risen to the challenge of marrying art with a specialist engineering project.
The company is well known for building replica historic aircraft for film and museums, but their projects can be far more complex than that. Project Manager Duncan Healey assembled a team of fellow Cornish experts to bring the project together.
David Kendall, of Optima Projects Ltd was responsible for the structural design and engineering for the composite structure of the cross. Composites engineer Stig MacDonald, brought in for his materials expertise, while composites specialist Dan Emuss took charge of the three spars.
Duncan Healey of Gateguards said: “This has been an incredible project to be involved with. Over 6,000 individual geometric pieces have been made to create the structure, with no two blocks identical.
“Ten people have worked on building the cross. We have all felt the same, that this is a very specialised engineering project, but more importantly, a work of art.”
The base of the cross has been designed to look like a cairn. Work will continue this week, placing a protective cowl at the base and laying grass to complete the cairn effect.
The Cornish Cross, which is part of the wider Elwell Woods regeneration project, was principally funded by Community Spaces, with additional support from Cornwall Council, Saltash Town Council and the Duchy of Cornwall.
An official launch event is due to take place on May 10.