The Story of the Temple Sowerby Bypass:

Below is a personal account of the long campaign for the Temple Sowerby A66 Bypass, written by Gavin Young.

At the bottom of the page there are links to some of the newspaper articles in The Cumberland and Westmorland Herald relating to the Bypass.

Background

When I moved into Temple Sowerby as a doctor to join Dr Donald Ainscow in January 1981 there was an expectation that work on the bypass would soon begin.  There had been a press announcement on 23 June 1971 by the Secretary of State announcing improvements to the A66 Scotch Corner – Penrith trunk road.  This was followed in August 1974 by the publication of a consultation document by the Department of the Environment giving alternative routes for bypassing Temple Sowerby and Kirkby Thore.  This document showed five possible routes: four which took the road to the north of the village and one to the south.  All the routes had a continuation to the south of Kirkby Thore.  See map below.

 

Hopes were not high however, because when the Department of Transport published “Policy for roads: England 1980”, on page 52 the bypass was listed among “other schemes: on which preparation work will be temporarily suspended and resumed at a suitable point when there is a prospect of fitting them in.”  Worse was to follow.  In 1982 Cumbria County Council tried to close the village school but after a show of great resistance on the part of the village the council relented.  The next blow was the publication in September by the Department of Transport of “Policy for Roads in England: 1983”.  This document, in effect, showed that the proposed bypass had been cancelled and was listed in “schemes replaced in the national trunk road programme by new proposals”.  These new proposals were not specified but were stated to be “smaller improvements such as at River Eden Bridge”.

There was massive anger in the village and a deep sense of betrayal, but all this was very motivating and almost immediately led to an Action Committee being formed.  We invited Kirkby Thore to join with us but sadly that village felt the situation was hopeless and did not join our campaign.  I cannot help wondering many years later whether that is why we got a bypass in 2007 and Kirkby Thore (whose need was as great) did not.  Little did anyone on our committee imagine for one awful moment that it would be another quarter of a century before the bypass opened.  Here is the story of our campaign.

The Early Skirmishes

The founding members of the committee were : Michael Cleasby, Raymond Dodd, Peter Lattin, Richard Malkin, Brian Nicholson, Ian Stout, Gavin Young.  We were soon joined by Margaret Walker (now Davey).  I was chosen to Chair the action group and was happy to do so.  Our house at Eden Croft lay beside the main road.  By the autumn of 1983 we had two boys aged three and two and a third child expected in May. This was motivation enough but the village had been shocked by a pedestrian being knocked down and killed in December 1982 on the A66 in the middle of the village.  Our opening salvo was a letter written by the committee to Mrs Lynda Chalker, Minister of State for Transport.  This letter stated  “… one of the Department of Transport’s greatest priorities… Removing heavy vehicles from areas where people live shop and work.  We are at a loss to understand how therefore we are not to be bypassed.  We are (with the adjacent Kirkby Thore) the only villages on this trunk road from Scotch Corner to Penrith to remain without a bypass”.

 

Skanska were appointed to build the bypass and on Thursday 16th March 2006 on a cold blustery day the children from the school watched as the first sod was cut.  The Highways Agency very kindly invited James to do this.

The work included construction of 4.9 kilometres of dual carriageway, tapering at either end to tie-in to the existing A66 trunk road, junctions at both ends of the bypass to access Temple Sowerby and other villages, new bridges and an underpass.  Perhaps the most impressive aspect was the placing of massive sections of steel making the new bridge that was to carry the dual carriageway over the River Eden near Oglebird Scar (Red Rock).  The design for this new bridge takes a single span across the river and the floodplain.

By the autumn 2007 work was almost finished and ahead of schedule.  The whole village was invited to walk the 4 mile route on Sunday 16th September just weeks before the bypass was to open to traffic.  Over 600 local people participated in the walk.  There were all ages present, some children ran the route, while others took a more leisurely approach rejoicing that at long last there was a cause for celebration.  It is a day many still remember with much pleasure. 

Click here for the Herald article on The Celebration Walk

After only 19 months in construction, on Thursday 18th October 2007, Archie Robertson Chief Executive of the Highways Agency arrives to cut the tape and hands the scissors to James. 

The bypass is open.

And now

For anyone who arrived in the village after 2007, or for those who have forgotten what life was like before the bypass, on a Monday morning or Friday at about 5pm, walk down the track beside the bowling green past Acton Lodge to the footbridge over the bypass.  Look down on all the traffic thundering past and then imagine it all back in the village. 

Temple Sowerby, which was once divided has now been unified and returned to being a peaceful, tranquil village.

Gavin Young, Temple Sowerby February 2020

I give my personal thanks to all who helped in our 25 year struggle but in particular to our MP David MacLean, our local councillor Henry Sawrey-Cookson, Cumbria County Council and Lord Hothfield.

Newspaper Articles on the Bypass
Below are links to the Cumberland and Westmorland Herald Newspaper that detail the history of the bypass, which villagers of Temple Sowerby had campaigned for over many years.  The long battle for the bypass started in the 1960s.  Articles below are just from 1998 onwards.  Click over the link and the article will open in a new tab.