Gem bridge – concrete supports taking shape, but Grenofen tunnel lags behind

Earlier today I had a chance to have a look at what progress has been made at Gem bridge, over the Walkham valley and on the same spot as Brunel’s original Grenofen viaduct.

Actually I didn’t go there just to see what progress had been made – this time I wanted to go and have a look at the Grenofen tunnel. When travelling towards Tavistock, after having crossed the Walkham valley, you still face several uphills. The first of those is steep and long and certainly not a family-friendly route.

Devon County Council plans on re-routing Drake’s Trail through the Grenofen tunnel, and further along the course of the old railway. To this end, Devon CC purchased the tunnel from a landowner, despite having a policy of not owning any tunnels. To get back in line with their policy, they sold the tunnel on to Sustrans for the princely sum of £1-00.

Following the old railway route will cut out many uphills and would vastly improve Drake’s Trail.

Sadly, I fear it will be quite some time before this part of the route opens, based on what I saw today. There are surveying markers, but apparently these have been there for a long time and there was no sign of recent activity.

Here are some pics:

Looking towards Tavistock from the tunnel entrance

This is how overgrown the Plymouth side is.

A surveying marker
Grenofen tunnel as seen from the Tavistock side

13 thoughts on “Gem bridge – concrete supports taking shape, but Grenofen tunnel lags behind”

  1. I do not mean to be rude but how did you enter a construction site without trespassing?

    Now Im all for seeing progress on the Gem Bridge Project however I and Im sure the rest of the public would be more comfortable seeing official photographs of the works rather than photos which have been taken illegally.

  2. Hi,

    I'm the site Agent for the Construction firm building Gem Bridge and wish to ask how you have taken your photo's (phsyical evidence of your trespasing) when the site is closed to the public?

    Please enlighten me of how you and your trusty stead entered our site?

    I'd be mindful in the future of your actions as trespassing is illegal and any further blogs or photos will be reported to the authorities.

    The reason the site is closed to the public is for their safety!!!!!

  3. OK, let's take this from the top, shall we?
    Firstly, you're assuming a whole bunch of things: you're assuming (and cannot prove) that I actually took those pictures. As you cannot prove that I personally took the pictures, you cannot prove trespass.
    Secondly, you're assuming trespassing is a crime, when in fact it isn't. But hey, don't take my word for it!
    Thirdly, it is a "steed" and not "stead".
    Finally, please feel free to report any further blogs or photos to the authorities. Last I checked, blogging wasn't a crime, nor was publishing photos.

    On a more serious note, assuming you truly are the site agent (something I strongly doubt) instead of trying to threaten me, why don't you post regular updates, so people will not NEED to trespass just to see what progress has been made?
    See, this project was funded from taxpayer's money. Yes, I'm aware the funding is from Europe, but is remains money from taxpayers. As a result, we all collectively own this project, and we deserve to be kept up to date on it.
    The trouble with attitudes like yours is that you want to lock everything away and treat ordinary members of the public as an intrusion, when in fact what is being built is for our use, and owned by us. This is not 1952 anymore.

    If you truly are the site agent, give us regular updates, with detailed photos. We're excited about the bridge, and we're really happy that it is being built. Tell us about problems encountered, even delays. No, we won't moan about delays – we understand that things can go wrong despite the best efforts.
    Just don't leave us in the dark. Is THAT so much to ask for?

  4. We did the route this last weekend and were very surprised that there is no up to date information about such an interesting project. Seems incredible for a major publicly funded project. Amazingly poor communication skills, but there is still time for improvement!

  5. I, as a member of the public, really appreciate your photos.
    Nice someone is making an effort to inform us as to what is going on.

  6. Thanks, Laura. As I've said above, I find it sad that there is NO official site for this project, with regular updates and lots of pictures.

  7. Hi William,

    Thanks very much for your pictures. Disappointing to see the lack of progress on the tunnel and the attitudes of those who clearly didn't want it publicised (assuming the comments are genuine).

    I've been struggling to find any information on the project until I stumbled on your pictures. Amazing that such a beneficial project to the community is so lacking in public information.

  8. Thanks for the photos although I regularly visit the construction site when walking the dogs. I enjoy totally ignoring the signs telling me the footpaths are closed. I am quite capable of deciding what is and what isn't dangerous. I don't need a nanny (state)!

    Having read the contribution from "the site agent" above……In future, I may just make a point of visiting the site at weekends when no one is around an having a REALLY CLOSEUP look around!

    Also, do you happen to know if there are any photos on the net of Brunel's original viaduct that was demolished in the 1950's

  9. I have been to this site and take photos and video of the bridge and I found NO evidence of any signs stating trespassers will be prosecuted and under the public order act 1994 stating the trespassing signs must be on show, as long as your not causing damage to the side (criminal damage). You are NOT trespassing until you are caught and asked to leave,to this date there has been no successful prosecution for trespass. I am not telling you to go and have look. but if you do, be responsible. And if your asked to leave then do so and don't kick off

  10. Thanks, Mad Scientist. The really frustrating thing is that the power that be seem to think they are allowed to carry on with a project like this while imposing almost an "information ban" on us.

    Given how many people are excited by this project, as well as the fact that it is funded by us, the tax payers, you'd imagine there would be a far more open approach.

  11. Thanks for the photos buddy. Great to see some progress. Shame the slacker above doesn't spend as much time doing work as they do moaning about a few innocent pictures 🙂


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