Celebrations set for bridge’s 500th year

Sunday 23rd February 2020 12:00 pm
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CELEBRATORY events are in the planning to mark the milestone anniversary of Gunnislake’s Newbridge this year.

English Heritage has dated the Grade 1 Listed bridge back to 1520, built during the reign of Henry VIII, and in celebration of its 500th year community group Gunnislake Community Matters (GCM) is spearheading a year of activities and events, with support from other bodies and organisations.

Chair of GCM Ross Hanley said: ‘We started thinking about doing something to mark the anniversary around July last year. The working party involves both Devon and Cornwall county councils, Calstock Parish Council, Tamar Valley AONB, Tavistock Historical Society, Friends of the Tamar Valley plus 12 different community groups from Gunnislake. To date, the work to arrange the events has been carried out by members of the working party, although as the events draw nearer, support and help will be needed to ensure they are enjoyed by all who attend.’

The events planned so far include a series of talks, historical displays, art and photo competitions as well as many others. One of the main events will be a re-enactment by The Sealed Knot of the English Civil War battle of Newbridge between the forces supporting parliament and those supporting the king.

The first event, to be held in St Anne’s Church on March 20, at 7pm, will be a talk by Dorothy Kirk on ‘Turner in the Tamar’ about the famous English artist and the paintings he did of the valley and the bridge.

Events are then hoped to take place once a month from March to October. Although ideas for these are in place, organisers are in need of volunteer and financial support to carry them out.

Ross said: ‘We have estimated that arranging and running the events will take 1,800 volunteer hours. The cost of the events is estimated at £7,500. Sponsorship is being sought from local businesses, particularly those who use the bridge a lot. Burcombe Haulage has sponsored the printing of the events’ programme and Ginsters have pledged support.

‘In marking the anniversary, a time-line for the life of the bridge is being created. It starts in the reign of Henry VIII, then goes through significant events, including the battle during the English Civil War, through to the world wars to the current day. It is amazing that this Grade 1 Listed structure, originally built for horse and cart traffic, has never been strengthened, yet today is able to carry 42 tonne lorries.’

Details of the events will be on www.gunnislake.org, or search ‘Gunnislake Bridge 500’ on Facebook. The printed events programme will be available soon from local businesses.

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