Skip to main content

Saltash Passage history trail

Saltash Passage is situated on the Plymouth side of the River Tamar in St Budeaux, opposite Saltash and adjacent to the northern end of Wolseley Road. The name derives from the ferry route between Saltash and Plymouth that operated until crossings ceased in 1961.

As well as a granite memorial stone that is positioned in the gardens, there are two identical signs and an interpretation panel on site to commemorate the embarkation of US soldiers of the V and VII Corps for the D-Day landings of World War II.

History detective quiz

The area is full of intriguing history that you can learn about here with our quiz. Here are seven things for you to find. When you find each one, you should be able to answer the question. They are all within a short walk and on dry land. Stay safe when looking - keep away from the river's edge and watch out for cars!

Devonport County Borough Boundary Stone

This area has always been part of St Budeaux Parish - which became part of Devonport County Borough in 1898 and there is still a Devonport Boundary Stone in the vicinity of the Royal Albert Bridge. Devonport became part of 'Greater' Plymouth in 1914.

Question: What was the name of the Mayor of Devonport in 1898?

GWR Boundary Post

The GWR took over the Cornwall Railway and these boundary markers were put in the ground to identify the strip of land they owned. So, take a look by the road under the railway viaduct. When the post was first 'planted' it was a cast iron bobbin sitting on top of a piece of railway track. It probably still is... but now you can only see the top.

Question: It's very worn, but what is written on the top of the post?

Normandy Hill

Can you find the street sign that names Normandy Hill? The clue is in the name...

This was a route that American soldiers and sailors used to walk during the Second World War, linking Saltash Passage to the Vicarage Road Camp at St Budeaux.

Question: In what year was the special road name sign put-up?

D-Day Concrete Matting

‘Flexible’ concrete matting was used by the U.S. Navy in 1943-4 to make their landing slipways, - so it shouldn’t be 'hard' to find! The Americans laid a concrete apron above the high water line, but used specially made concrete blocks to cover the tidal foreshore. These blocks of matting were hooked together, making them flexible. Some blocks are still where they should be. More are re-used in the landscaping around the Memorial Park.

Question: What shape are the individual 'segments' in each block of concrete matting?

Saltash Coat of Arms in Plymouth!

Keep your eyes open and look up. It’s here because the historic Saltash Ferry came ashore nearby. Until 1832, Saltash Passage and Little Ash were actually in Cornwall and, for many years after, Saltash Corporation owned the ferry rights and buildings on both sides of the river.

Question: The Saltash coat of arms features a crown, a shield, a lion, water and what else?

Metal 'Collar' or Hawse Pipe

There is one intact in the ground and the remains of another. These were associated with the fixed chains and the operation of the Saltash Floating Bridge - a chain ferry. Maybe take a look near the 'Ferry House Inn', making sure to approach the old slipway from the road. For your safety: Do not walk on the old Ferry Hard, which gets very slippy and dangerous.

Question: Without walking on the old slipway, you should see the remains of an old cast iron lamp column or bollard. Is the post round, octagonal or fluted?

Looking for Little Ash

The name Saltash Passage is still with us, but what about Little Ash? It was once a farmstead but now it’s just remembered in a couple of nearby street names.

Question: What is the nearest Little Ash street name?

History detective answers

If you've enjoyed the Saltash Passage History Detective quiz time why not visit Blagdon's Meadow, a 3.8 hectares site of reclaimed grassland in the east of Plymouth, where the fascinating history of the area is summarised on an interpretation board. From there you can venture along Embankment Road and follow the cycle path to Laira Bridge where there are thirteen bronze plaques marking points of interest on the Laira Heritage Trail.