Opening of the Royal Albert Bridge


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Opening of the Royal Albert Bridge

Saltash, Cornwall The 2nd of May 1859 AD

The Railway Age in Britain demonstrates that it is not necessarily organisation (with its close friend bureaucracy), but drive and determination that gets things done. Such was the case with the task of linking Cornwall with the rest of Britainís railway network, a job done piecemeal but eventually effectively.
Various schemes had previously been suggested and failed, partly because of economic problems perversely caused by the railway boom, the first of them as early as 1835, but the entrepreneurs of Victorian Britain were not to be defeated. It was not, however, until Isambard Kingdom Brunel became involved that the project gained irresistible momentum, wining Parliamentary approval and securing considerable financial backing. Brunel it was who designed a bridge to cross the Tamar at Saltash, rather than the perhaps more imaginative and novel idea of using a train-ferry elsewhere, and who persuaded the backers to adopt his broad-gauge system.
Thus on May 2 1859 Prince Albert opened Brunelís bridge across the Tamar, named in that consortís honour, joining the line already constructed to it from Devonport and beyond to the section built to Truro which in turn linked with the long established West Cornwall Line from Truro to Penzance . Rail journeys, albeit with changes because of gauge differences, were now possible for passengers travelling from Paddington to Penzance. The beauty of the Cornish Coast was brought closer to the rest of Britain.

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