Date: Friday 19th October 2007
Temple Sowerby schoolchildren show their appreciation to the bypass workforce.
Temple Sowerby schoolchildren show their appreciation to the bypass workforce.

TEMPLE Sowerby fell silent on Thursday afternoon after through traffic switched to a new purpose-built dual carriageway at2-50pm, signalling that villagers’ 35-year wait for a bypass had finally come to an end.

James and his father Gavin Young wityh a backdrop of the new bypass.
James and his father Gavin Young wityh a backdrop of the new bypass.

James Young, who was seriously injured in an accident on the A66 in the village in 1993 when he was 13, cut the ribbon to officially open the £36.6 million bypass, watched by pupils from the local primary school, past and present residents, invited dignitaries and guests.

It was a poignant moment for Dr. Gavin Young, James’s father, who was chosen as chairman of the bypass action committee which was set up in 1983 following a decision by the government of the time to scrap plans to bypass Temple Sowerby and Kirkby Thore.

James was hit by a lorry travelling at about 40mph through Temple Sowerby as he crossed the road on his bicycle. James, who was in hospital for 10 months, was left profoundly deaf, which has been eased a little by a cochlea implant, partially paralysed down his left side and with a moderate speech impairment and some intellectual impairment.

At the 2003 public inquiry into plans for the bypass, Dr. Young, who moved to Temple Sowerby in 1981 as a general practitioner, said if the bypass went ahead he hoped James might be allowed to cut the tape at the opening ceremony as it would bring him more joy than it possibly could to a dignitary or politician. On Thursday, that dream came true.

Dr. Young said it was quite difficult to know what it would be like to have a lovely quiet village again, but the biggest thing would be the removal of danger.

“It’s going to be a safe place to be,” he said, “Temple Sowerby used to be known as the Queen of Westmorland villages and it will again be this evening.”

Temple Sowerby resident Mrs. Mary Nicholson, who is due to celebrate her 100th birthday next month, said she had forgotten what it was like to live in the village before all the traffic.

She agreed it would be like turning back the clock and was pleased to see the day the bypass finally opened after such a long wait. Since the traffic had built up on the A66, getting across the road had become problem. “Some don’t take the slightest bit of notice and will knock you over,” said Mrs. Nicholson.

Originally from Gosforth, she moved to Temple Sowerby in 1929 after marrying her husband, Stanley, who was a joiner in the village. “It’s going to make such a difference,” said Mrs. Nicholson.

Mrs. Nicholson, who is the great-grandmother of 10-year-old Nathan Morland and Zoe and Gabrielle Head, was also accompanied at the opening ceremony by a third generation of her family, her granddaughter Karen Morland, Nathan’s mother. Unfortunately four generations could not be present as her daughter, Helen Morgan, was unable to make it because of work commitments.

Gwen Fisher, who lives in Leicester but grew up in the village and was visiting relatives in Temple Sowerby this week, said the road had been busy since she was a child, so it was wonderful to get rid of all the heavy traffic.

Also returning to the village for the opening ceremony was Dr. Young’s predecessor in Temple Sowerby, Dr. Donald Ainscow, aged 84, who moved to Devon six years ago. He started campaigning for a bypass some 35 years ago.

“It’s wonderful to be here,” said Dr. Ainscow, “and wonderful to see this completed at long last. It’s absolutely marvellous and a real privilege to witness.”

Eden councillor Henry Sawrey-Cookson said: “This is a great day for the people of Temple Sowerby who have worked so hard over the last 34 years. There has been an enormous sacrifice of time and effort to achieve this magnificent aim.”

The bypass, which has been completed £3 million under budget and two months ahead of schedule, will remove noise, congestion and pollution from the village and make journeys on the A66 across the Pennines safer and more reliable for long-distance traffic. It is expected to reduce journey time on the A66 by around three minutes.

Speaking at the official opening ceremony, Archie Robertson, chief executive of the Highways Agency, said: “Today we are transforming people’s lives. To the people of Temple Sowerby we are giving them their village back and in a less dramatic way we are improving an important artery through the north of England and helping A66 users continue their journey more reliably and with less delay.”

Transport minister Rosie Winterton welcomed the opening of the bypass. She said: “It will breathe new life into village. People will now be able to enjoy the tranquility of village life once more.”

The three-mile long bypass has been carefully planned with screening and tree planting to reduce noise and intrusion on the village, which has 22 Grade II listed buildings in its centre and a fine stone arch bridge over the River Eden.

Although traffic is now able to use the new dual carriageway, work to link it into the existing A66 will continue and the project will be finally completed by January.

Bill Hocking, managing director of contractors Skanska, said it was a great achievement to get the road built in 18 months and he paid tribute to everybody who had been involved in the hardworking team.