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A30/History - Connecting Cornwall

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From:  Okehampton
To:  Lands End
Highway Authorities

National Highways (Area 5) • Cornwall Council



Route outline (key)
A30 Okehampton - Penzance
A30 Penzance - Lands End

Being the only road to cut Cornwall in two going from the Border to Lands End, it was only natural that the A30 would become the main road into Cornwall. It provided a route from the Tin and Copper Mines of Camborne and Redruth, who were the biggest producers of the ores in the world, to the China Clay mines of St Austell and Bodmin (and are still functioning today) all the way through Devon and onto be transported around the empire at the time. In the 1930's traffic in Redruth was becoming unbearable even then, and so we start with the first purpose built bypass of possibly any Cornish town.

Redruth Bypass

Opened in 1939, the bypass started from Blowinghouse Hill to the west of Redruth, a new Dual Carriageway was built around the north to the B3300, where there was a grade separated junction and after at grade junctions it returned to Single Carriageway and rejoined the old route near Mount Ambrose. The old route through the town became the A3047 and life for any lorry drivers was considerably improved by not having to negotiate the tight streets of Redruth to get goods out from South Crofty mine, which was the biggest in the county. Sadly, this would be the only thing to happen to the A30 for another 36 years, but interestingly enough, the spotlight would return to Redruth, and neighbouring Camborne.

Camborne - Redruth, Bodmin and Launceston Bypasses

Passing The Jamaica Inn in the 60's and 70's was a welcome sight. Only three Hours still to go!

As the seventies beckoned, road construction was on an all time high. The A30 was no exception to this and by 1973 most of the road was scheduled to start construction by 1978. Construction on the first major section of Cornwall started in late 1972. The opening of the Camborne, Pool and Redruth Bypass was in 1975, with completion by 4th July that year. From the west, a half Diamond interchange was built to accommodate dualling to the west. It started on west of Camborne on a roundabout, negotiated the Junction and continued straight to the north of Pool where it had a Trumpet Interchange which lead directly to South Crofty Mine. It then headed to meet the original Redruth Bypass at Avers Junction, a roundabout interchange and one of only a few in Cornwall. It then met the original route at Scorrier where it then filtered back into Blackwater. There was also a start on the road at Bodmin Moor, where it was dualled for a short while South West of the Jamaica Inn and Bolventor. One carriageway had to be reduced to one lane though due to the poor design of the old road it was based on.

The A30 as it was in Launceston. Dualling started that summer.

Launceston was starting to reap the benefits of a bypass as it too was bypassed in March 1976. It ran from just east of Tregadillet to the South of Launceston and to the west of Lifton, meeting an extended A388 three times; twice to the south and once at the end of the bypass. December 1976 was also a good year for Bodmin getting it's bypass built to dual carriageway standards, and it's long sweeping curve to the south and west of Bodmin was very impressive. The A38 got a junction here at Carminow Cross and to the north of the bypass as well a large roundabout at it's southern end where it met the A391 and A389. The roundabout at Innis Downs was famous throughout Cornwall for it's massively flared carriageways obviously there for the road to be built through the junction soon.

Bad new was on the horizon though, in the form of the Oil Crisis, the 3 day week and recession, Cornwall was hit as hard as everyone else. The late seventies were a disaster for the economy and with that road building was put on the back burner. All roads were pushed back and the future looked bleak.

Moving into the Eighties

A30 at Innis Downs with the flared carriageways on the Bodmin Bypass

The chances of any new sections of road anywhere were awful, but for Cornwall it looked like it would be an eternity before anything was done. As work around Devon had slowed to a crawl over the next few years, there was no chance for Cornwall to get anywhere. The only hope was for Launceston to be connected to the proposed Okehampton bypass but even that was in jeopardy as no one could decide whether the bypass should pass to the North or South. By 1984 the MP for Truro, the Rt. Hon. Mr David Penhalligon, with support from the MP for Cornwall South-East, the Rt. Hon. Mr Robert Hicks, went to the House of Commons to debate the state of the road.

...The A30 is our strategic road. It is our contact with the economic centers of the nation. As I said before, without this improvement, there can be no relative improvement in Cornwall's economic position. I therefore plead with the Minister to allow common sense to prevail, in preference to this formula (Cost Benefit Analysis). It must surely be common sense to accept that the more remote regions of Britain have as much right as other regions to expect eventually to be connected to the nation's communications by roads built to modern standards... - Rt. Hon. Mr David Penhalligon on the A30 (Source: [Hansard]

They argued a very persuasive battle but were turned away by the Transport Minister at the time that there were only small sections that would be built as Dual Carriageway and the rest as wide single carriageway. This would seem to be the final nail in the coffin for a dualled A30 through Cornwall and into Penzance, and this plan was carried through at the epicentre of the Cornish A30. Camborne/Redruth.

Polstrong - St Erth

The Penhale - St Erth section was built as a wide single carriageway

Polstrong to St Erth was scheduled to be built immediately after the Camborne and Redruth Bypass as a Dual Carriageway. The Oil Crisis pushed this back to 1979 and by the time the new Conservative Government came to power just before the eighties, the road was postponed and watered down until it became a wide single carriageway road, of the sort that Mr Penhalligon had been informed of and fought against in '84. It finally opened in 1985 and it was a sign of things to come. The only plans for the A30 were a Blackwater bypass at the Scorrier end of Camborne Redruth Bypass and a short bypass for Bolventor (with the associated works at the section adjacent to it), both to be built as Dual Carriageway. But, somewhere in the deepest depths of the House of Commons, something was about to change.

Regained Enthusiasm and Roads for Prosperity

The A30 Blackwater bypass was built over 20 years after it was first proposed

By the late eighties, Devon had the A30 dualled all the way through to the border, and Cornwall was starting to see plans come through. Launceston was getting closer and closer to being connected to Okehampton by a dual carriageway and Okehampton was bypassed in 1988. The Secretary of State for Transport had made a pledge that the A30 would be dualled into Cornwall and some key sections were planned to be completed. The first section out of the traps was the Blackwater Bypass which opened in June 1988, 11 months ahead of schedule. The next section for Cornwall was the Plusha to Bolventor Improvement, which built a parallel carriageway for most of the route and a couple of grade separated junctions over Bodmin Moor to get the road to Bolventor. Construction started in 1990 after Balfour Betty won the contract and was completed in the early '90's. Cornwall Council even got in on the act, building a (admitted only single carriageway) new bypass for Penzance from Eastern Green to Mount Misery.

1989 was a key time in British Road History. The Conservative Government released it's most ambitious plan for a generation. Roads for Prosperity. Wide spread road construction was to begin all over the country, although it wouldn't last. Fortunately, Cornwall still saw lots of benefits from this plan and for the first time since the Conservatives came to power the route from the border to Carland Cross was going to get the green light as a Dual Carriageway Road.

1991 saw the opening of the Zelah Bypass which was constructed as single carriageway due to the sections the other side being single carriageway, but it was built with provision for dualling, showing what was possibly the Governments intent. Cornwall Council also dualled the section for the Long Rock Bypass to Eastern Green. Mitchell and Summercourt also saw dual carriageway bypasses for the A30 and, finally, by 1993, Launceston was connected to Okehampton by a fully dualled and grade separated route bypassing Lifton and Lewdown. It was one of the longest sections of A30 to be built in one contract in order for it to bypass Dartmoor.

1995 was another good year. The big news was in Mid Cornwall, as Indian Queens and Fraddon were both bypassed and connected to the Penhale - Carland Cross Scheme, and included a crawler lane for Highgate Hill and a roundabout interchange for the (then still trunked) A39 Indian Queens bypass.

Sadly though, this was the last bit of work to be done for another 12 years as when the Labour Government came to power in 1997, all of the Conservatives road building plans were thrown in the metaphorical Shredder. The road network was left to rot, and the A30 was no exception.

The Turn of the Century and Goss Moor

The A30 at Innis Downs just before opening.

The turn of the century looked bad for roads and despite years of campaigning it looked as though the A30 would be left as it was for the foreseeable future. But finally the Labour administration saw fit to build a bypass for what would become infamous across the country as possibly the worst Holiday bottleneck of the time. Goss Moor.

The then Secretary of State for Transport had pushed the Goss Moor proposal through with an early decision to select the preferred route of the road. Construction of the route began in 2005 and completion of the road was in 2007. It was one of the rare cases that even environmental groups were in favour of a brand new road because it bypassed Goss Moor, although they were not convinced that it needed to be dualled. 2008 was supposed to be another good year for the A30, with Temple to Higher Carblake, the final section on Bodmin Moor, and Carland Cross to Chiverton Cross were to be dualled, but once again the economy seems to have a problem with the A30. Another massive global recession hit, the country was broke once again and the county was left with only three sections to be improved and no money to do it.

The County Council and the new Government

Despite numerous improvements, Temple still causes massive head aches for Tourists and Locals alike

In the depths of recession Cornwall Council decided that it would step in for one of the sections. Temple to Higher Carblake was left on Bodmin Moor and for years the road has got more and more congested. Having seen the benefits the road of the A30's quality had brought, especially with the Goss Moor completion allowing more traffic into the west of the county, Cornwall Council wanted to get rid of the bottle neck, which has seen queues over 4 miles long in the summer. They proposed a slightly lower quality, lower priced alternative to the previously planned route, but still as dual carriageway, where they would fund half of the route and the Government funded the other half. This finally got the go ahead and full scale plans were drawn up. The Department for Transport contributed a fixed £30 million under the condition that construction started before March 2015 and with that, the final plans were pressed forward for construction to start. The road was opened in July 2017, resulting in a continuous 82 mile section of Dual Carriageway from the M5 at Exeter to Carland Cross

The Cornish Expressway - Chiverton Cross to Carland Cross

One of the two remaining sections of single carriageway road between the M5 and Penzance, Carland Cross to Chiverton Cross has an improvement scheme currently under construction. The works provide for a new dual carriageway between Carland Cross to Chiverton Cross, funded by the Government as part of the latest plans from Highways England. Planning permission was obtained in 2020 and work commenced in March 2021, with an estimated two year construction period. The works involves grade separated junctions with the A39 at Carland Cross and the A390/A3075 at Chiverton Cross. The new route was opened in June 2024, now making a continuous 102 mile length of dual carriageway west of the M5 to Cambourne.

This does mean that there is still one more section to go. St Erth to Long Rock may never see the light of day, but we can only hope.

Alphington Junction • Avers Junction • Bellmans Cross • Black Dam Roundabout • Blackhorse Interchange • Bolventor Junction • Boxheater Junction • Branwell Lane • Brighton Hill Roundabout • The Bull Dog • Bullington Cross • Bunfield Hollow Roundabout • Callywith Junction • Cannaframe Junction • Cardinham Downs Junction • Carland Cross • Carminow Cross • Cheneys Farm Interchange • Chiverton Cross • Chy-An-Mor • Chyandour Roundabout • Chybucca Junction • Clockhouse Roundabout • Country House Interchange • Crooked Billet • Daisymount Junction • Devonshire House • Dummer Interchange • Egham Hill Roundabout • Fingle Glen Junction • Fivelanes Junction • Foundry Square • Fraddon Junction • Hackwood Road Roundabout • Hatch Warren Roundabout • Hatton Cross • Heamoor Roundabout • Henlys Roundabout • Highgate Hill Roundabout • Horsey Roundabout • Hospital Roundabout (Yeovil) • Innis Downs Junction • Iron Bridge Junction • Ivy Cross Roundabout • Kempshott Roundabout • Kennards House Junction • Langford Junction • Liftondown Junction • Loggans Moor • Lopcombe Corner • Meldon Junction • Mitchell Junction • Mount Misery • Newtown Roundabout • Pattesons Cross Junction • Pearce's Hill • Pennygillam Junction • Plusha Junction • Popham Interchange • Pound Corner • Preeze Cross Junction • Quicksilver Roundabout • Royal Chase Roundabout • Runnymede Interchange • Scorrier Junction • Sourton Cross • Southay Cross • Sowton Interchange • St Erth Roundabout • St Marks Roundabout • Stowford Cross Junction • Summercourt Junction • Tavistock Road Junction • Temple Tor Junction • Terminal 4 Roundabout • Tolvaddon Junction • Tongue End Junction • Trebursye Junction • Treswithian Junction • Turks Head Junction • Two Bridges Junction • Victoria Interchange • Whiddon Down Junction • Wilton Roundabout (Wiltshire) • Winchester Road Roundabout • Woodleigh Junction
Basingstoke • Bodmin • Camberley • Exeter • Hayle • Honiton • Hounslow • Land's End • Launceston • London • Newquay • Okehampton • Penzance • Redruth • Salisbury • Staines • Yeovil
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