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Fireworks to mark historic milestones

Fireworks to mark historic milestones

THE Royal Albert Bridge is more than a link; the structure is held in deep affection by many in the town, says Lynn Marsh of the Ashtorre Rock community centre, the base for many of the anniversary celebrations.

"The centre is on the waterside and somebody remarked there once that the bridge is like a familiar sleeping giant watching over us," says Lynn. "I think many people in Saltash have a lot of affection for the bridge."

There is pride too, in being associated with 'one of the greatest bridges in the world... unique in design, unequaled in engineering and graceful in appearance'.

The bridge changed Saltash forever, but this wasn't a case of the outside world pushing into Cornwall. "This was Cornwall opening up to the east," says Lynn. "It was joining-up. The Cornish railways pushed for it.

"A lot of us remember the 100th-anniversary celebrations and those people won't be around for the 200th, so we wanted a celebration of the affection in which we hold the bridge."
There is already talk of marking another anniversary. In 2011 it'll be 50th year since the opening of the road bridge. "I don't think there'll be the same enthusiasm for that," says Lynn, "but there will be celebrations in 2011."

The weekend of Brunel bridge celebrations begins at 6pm tonight on the waterside in Saltash with steam engines, a lantern parade, a sail past and fireworks.

Tomorrow there's a walk along the rail line across the Royal Albert Bridge from 6.45am (that event is fully subscribed). Waterside is the venue from 10am for more steam, including miniature train rides, plus stalls and a visit from a storytelling Queen Victoria. At Ashtorre Rock community centre there's a model railway exhibition.

On Monday at 1.30pm the opening of the bridge by Prince Albert will be re-enacted at Saltash Railway Station, with music, singing, and dancing.

Events marking the 250th anniversary of Smeaton's Tower include a joint exhibition, also looking at the Royal Albert Bridge, called Super Structures, taking place at Plymouth City Museum and Art Gallery.

As well as exhibits, a series of activities are planned, including talks and half-term holiday workshops (October).

The exhibition opens on July 25 and continues until October 17. Admission is free.

August 15 is International Lighthouse Day at Smeaton's Tower. Visitors can meet the '18th-century' lighthouse- keeper and have a go at some themed activities. Admission charges will apply.

Most of the Darwin anniversary public celebrations have died down until the autumn. On October 31 there's a Big Draw family event on insect art at Plymouth City Museum and Art Gallery. The same venue in November has two talks, Darwin and Beetles (November 10) and Have Darwin's Ideas Changed the World? (November 24), coinciding with the 150th anniversary of the publication of On the Origin Of Species.

The Marine Biological Association's (MBA) marking of its 125th anniversary included a science meeting at the Citadel Hill laboratory last month (April). On September 24 at the Fishmongers' Hall, London, the MBA will celebrate 125 years of excellence in science and education with speakers including the environmental scientist's Professor James Lovelock, who lives near Launceston, and the UK's former ambassador to the United Nations, Sir Crispin Tickell. In April next year, the association will hold a two-day symposium in Plymouth. 

The Fireworks were launched by Celebration Pyrotechnics. Full credit to the lads for an incredible show.

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