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 A historic Gothic-style railway arch has been given Grade Two listing by English Heritage.  The arch on Cypress Avenue is part of the route planned for construction traffic for the development and is one of only two routes into the area. 

Cypress Avenue rail arch
 The Grade Two listed railway arch at Cypress Avenue

The arch was constructed to a design by Isambard Kingdom Brunel to carry the new Great Western Railway line between Plymouth and Penzance and was opened in 1859. It still carries trains on the main line to London Paddington.  The official report from English Heritage says the bridge is a special example of Brunel's work and "displays clear elements of architectural quality and attention to detail in its Gothic styling which is more elaborate than similar listed examples." The Arch now forms a key element in the industrial history of the Carlyon Bay area.

Now 150 years after it opened, the Arch is potentially under very severe threat.  The major development proposal for the beach would result in more than 30,000 tipper-truck movements during the construction phase - these being of 40 tonnes gross weight on four axles.  Even more worrying is the fact that after completion, the beach would generate up to 1.3 million extra traffic movements a year.  

Demonstration lorry

 Test run of lorry through the arch for the 2006 public inquiry

During the 2006 Public Inquiry into the developer's plans for a massive sea defence scheme, one such truck was driven under this arch, although it had only inches to spare.  Also on the downhill run the truck had to swing wide to the right to negotiate the angle of the bend - a nerve-wracking manoeuvre for any pedestrians on the adjacent narrow pavement. 

All this traffic must pose a serious threat to the beautifully designed Victorian arch, built in the days when only a farmer's horse and cart needed to pass beneath it.  Even now HGVs, large camper vans and caravans often have to turn around or reverse away from the low, narrow arch.

Wedged lorry October 2008

 A lorry stuck under the arch

A graphic example of its limitations was in October 2008 when the arch suffered slight damage after it was struck by a heavy goods vehicle which was unable to pass below it.  Rail services were affected for more than two hours.  Firecrews had to cut off part of the top of the HGV and let down the tyres so that it could be towed out. 

(More on the Traffic Impact of the development)


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