|From:||Marsh Mills, Plymouth (SX517567)|
|Distance:||16 miles (25.7 km)|
|Meets:||A38, B3416, B3214, A379, B3238, B3240, B3250, A386, B3396, B3247, B3249, A387|
|Old route now:||A38, B3413|
|Route outline (key)|
Marsh Mills – Torpoint Ferry
We begin between Plympton and Plymouth proper, next to a large Sainbury's store at the busy Marsh Mills roundabout beneath the A38 just west of the River Plym, and head southwest along a busy dual carriageway beside the railway and the broad Plym estuary. After passing over the railway we continue along a straight, mile-long stretch of Embankment Road following the estuary shore, before curving off onto Gdynia Way: a road largely laid along a former railway alignment and returning us, at the Cattedown roundabout, to the original A38 route (which had at one time reached this point by following a built-up, and relatively narrow, continuation of Embankment Road).
Our onward road is a dual carriageway again, and we follow Exeter Street as far as the roofless Charles Church on its roundabout. This building, severely damaged in the World War II bombing of Plymouth, has been left as a memorial to the 1,200 civilians killed in the air raids on the city. We are now in the heart of Plymouth, in the zone totally obliterated by wartime bombing, and we pass around the "top right" and "top left" sides of the triangle of main roads framing the modern commercial centre, along Charles Street / Cobourg Street and Western Approach. At the apex of the triangle, not far from Plymouth railway station, we meet the southern end of the A386.
At one time the old A38 ran along the base of this triangle, on the east-west aligned (and postwar) Royal Parade and thence into Union Street: an older thoroughfare so named because it united the three towns of Devonport, Stonehouse, and Plymouth) which would eventually amalgamate (in 1914) and become the City of Plymouth (in 1928). But today we turn right at the bottom of Western Approach to enter the single-carriageway Union Street. After crossing Stonehouse Bridge the road climbs Devonport Hill and swings northward along Park Avenue before taking a left turn at the southern edge of the Devonport Dockyard and dropping down to the Torpoint Ferry.
Torpoint Ferry – Trerulefoot
On leaving the ferry on the west side, we pass to the north of Torpoint and through the village of Antony.
The road is a little hilly as we are on a thin strip of land between St Germans inlet and the open sea. Continuing west, we find ourselves in tree lined valleys, the hilly nature of the road increasing as we move away from the sea before returning to the estuary at Polbathic.
The Torpoint Ferries are one of the main transport links between Devon (Plymouth) and Cornwall (Torpoint). We operate three chain-driven ferries (floating bridge), the Plym, the Lynher, and the Tamar, which provide passengers with a 10 minute service from both sides of the River Tamar. The majority of our passengers are commuters travelling to and from work; however, these numbers swell during holiday periods with the addition of tourists visiting Cornwall.
Now we run through a valley past the end of the A387, turning north towards our destination of Trerulefoot, where the A374 terminates at a roundabout on the A38, here a single carriageway road rather than the major dual carriageway we left the other side of Plymouth.
In 2011, a new scheme was opened in the Cattedown area by Plymouth City Council which restructured the road layout.
From the Embankment, A379 Plymstock-bound traffic now turns left and runs along a newly built unnumbered alignment to a signalised junction on the A379, whilst through A374 traffic continues on the existing alignment to Cattedown Roundabout. In the reverse direction, through traffic now turns off Exeter Street at Cattedown Roundabout and runs along the S2+1 Gydnia Way (2 lanes west, 1 lane east). A379 eastbound traffic exclusively continues straight on along the former eastbound alignment, which has been renumbered to A379.
The A374 has been an alternative route to the A38 through Plymouth since that road was extended across the Torpoint Ferry into Cornwall in 1935.
In the 1935 renumberings, the A3078 from Marsh Mills to St Budeaux and the A387 from Saltash to Trerulefoot were both renumbered A374; the gap between the two was filled by the A388 Plymouth to Launceston road which crossed the River Tamar via the Saltash Ferry. This road bypassed Plymouth, unlike the A38, but as both roads needed to cross the Tamar using a ferry there was little to choose between the two.
In 1961 the Saltash Ferry was replaced by the Tamar Bridge, which initially opened with the A374 number (it seems that the A374 number had become dominant in the multiplex with the A388). It was quickly decided that the route bypassing Plymouth and crossing a bridge into Cornwall was preferable to a road going through the city centre and crossing a ferry, so the A38 and A374 swapped routes in 1967.
The A38 through Plymouth has since been moved onto a new bypass, so the ex-A374 through Crownhill is now the B3413.