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Saltash is a town and civil parish in Cornwall, England, United Kingdom. It has a population of 14,964. It lies in the south east of Cornwall, facing Plymouth over the River Tamar. It was in the Caradon district until March 2009 and is known as "the gateway to Cornwall". Saltash means ash tree by the salt mill. Saltash is the largest town within the East Cornwall area and is one of the largest in Cornwall.
Saltash is the location of Isambard Kingdom Brunel's Royal Albert Bridge, opened by HRH Prince Albert on May 2, 1859. It takes the railway line across the River Tamar. Alongside it is the Tamar Bridge, a toll bridge carrying the A38 trunk road, which in 2001 became the first suspension bridge to be widened whilst remaining open to traffic.
Saltash railway station is close to the town centre. It was hoped that the empty buildings could be restored as a visitor centre for the bridge, but they have instead been purchased by a property developer. The station is served by a regular train service, with some direct High Speed services to and from London Paddington.
The cottage of Mary Newman, Sir Francis Drake's first wife, can be found in Saltash on Culver Road downhill from Saltash railway station.
Nearby are the castles at Trematon and Ince, as well as the nature reserve at Churchtown Farm, where there are some wonderful walks, with stunning views of the river.
The town expanded in the 1990s with the addition of the large new estate Latchbrook, and is currently growing further with the recent building of another housing area, Pilmere. In the summer of 2009 the Saltash postcode area was judged as the most desirable place to live in Great Britain in a survey that included statistics from school results and crime figures.
In 2010, David Cameron, the leader of the Conservative Party, was egged at Saltash College whilst touring for the General Election of that year.
There is no doubt that the history of Saltash is linked to the passage, or ferrying place across the Tamar. The original ferry became established by fishermen for those passing to and from the monastery at St Germans and to Trematon Castle.
Royal Albert Bridge emblemAfter the Norman Conquest, Robert, Count of Mortain, who held the castle and manor at Trematon, took the market from the canons at St. Germans and established it at Saltash. The Count granted Trematon and other manors to the de Valletorts, who had then to provide for the ferry boat. In the twelfth century a borough was founded (1190), and Saltash became the only franchised seaport between Dartmouth and Fowey. This fact has given rise to the Saltash saying, Saltash was a borough town, when Plymouth was a fuzzy down ('fuzzy' = 'fursy' i.e. covered in gorse), as the town of Plymouth and its seaport did not exist in 1190. In medieval times the ferry was part of the manor of Trematon, held by the Valletorts.
The Charter of Incorporation refers to the place as 'Essa' (Latin for 'Ash'). However, the spelling of the town has changed over the years. For example, in Edward the Confessor's time it was called and spelt 'Aysche'. In the 1584 Charter it is stated that Essa is now commonly called Saltash. A family called Essa lived in the twelfth century at their property near Ashtor Rock, where the Manor Courts were once held. The 'Salt' part of the name was added to distinguish it from other places called Ash.
Roger de Valletort (Reginald de Valle Torta) sold out in 1270 to Richard, Earl of Cornwall and King of the Romans while Edward, the Black Prince, became the first Duke of Cornwall, and a visitor to Trematon Castle.
in 1549 there was a Cornish insurrection against the introduction of the Protestant liturgy, and the rebels under Humphrey Arundell, for which he was beheaded at Tyburn, gained possession of Trematon Castle by treachery, capturing Sir Richard Grenville, the elder, in the process. They then carried out acts of barbarity on their surprised visitors.