Cross will travel from Newquay to Saltash, via the M5
PEOPLE who have waited for more than a decade for an iconic Celtic cross to be put up in Saltash are praying for calm weather in January.
The giant £600,000 structure cannot be lifted into place by two huge cranes if the wind strength is above 10mph.
The man behind the scheme, former Saltash mayor Joe Ellison, said the cranes, each with a 100-foot jib, had been provisionally booked for January 5 or 12 and then on a weekly basis until the weather comes right.
Although the cross, made largely of lightweight composite, is not heavy, it is so long that it cannot take the direct route from Newquay Airport to Saltash along the A38 through the twisty, narrow Glyn Valley near Liskeard.
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Instead it will travel via the A30 to Exeter, then the M5 and A38 to Plymouth, across the Tamar Bridge, through the tunnel and around Carkeel roundbout back towards the tunnel.
There it will wait in a long lay-bay west of the tunnel before taking the slip road to North Road and onto the site, a woodland area north of the bridge.
Joe said the operation to bring the 62-foot cross to the site and erect it will be done overnight between 11.30pm and 7am. "It is free-standing with no support wires and uses a very complex system of stainless steel bolts," he said.
"We have won Lottery funding for up-lighting, and the cross will be floodlit by the time it is officially unveiled at 3pm on St Piran's Day, March 5."
Organisers have lined up Eden Project founder Tim Smit and Cornwall Council boss Kevin Lavery for the opening, and are inviting as-yet unnamed celebrities with Cornish connections as well.
The project also includes the rejuvenation and opening up of the formerly private two-acre Elwell Woods and the planting of an orchard.
The cross will appear to be made of pure copper, with a head containing samples of other metals mined in Cornwall.
The idea for the cross was first mooted as a millennium project in the 1990s, the final design being submitted by sculptor Simon Thomas.
Roughly the height of the Angel of the North, it will be visible from higher ground in East Cornwall and parts of Plymouth.