The 20 metre Cornish Cross has been lifted into place alongside the Tamar Bridge at Saltash, UK.
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.
The spars, which are over 16 metres in length, are made from aerospace and boatbuilding composite materials of glass fibre and carbon fibre. The head has been built from traditional Cornish metals.
After a 128 mile trip from Newquay via Exeter, 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.
Spokesperson for the Project and Chair of the Saltash Waterfront Resident’s Association, Liam Bradley said, “It has taken 3 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 Cornish artist Simon Thomas for the Millennium celebrations. It is an 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.
Gateguards is 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 to bring the project together.
Duncan Healey from 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 the 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, is supported by the Big Lottery Fund Community Spaces Programme, administered by Groundwork UK. The project has also received funding and support from Cornwall Council, Saltash Town Council and the Duchy of Cornwall.
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