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The Ferry (1066 - 1961)

1066 - 1733


​The rights for the Ferry from Saltash Passage on the Plymouth side of the Tamar river belonged to the Valletort family dating back to the Norman Conquest in the 11th Century up until 1270.


After this time, the rights to the Ferry passed through many hands, including; Richard of Cornwall in 1290, the Burgesses of Saltash who leased them in 1337, William Lenche who had them leased to him by Edward, The Black Prince for his services in The Battle of Poitiers in the Hundred Years' War and the Mayor and Burgesses in 1385 who were granted the rights for 200 years.


In 1733 the Ferry experienced a major catastrophe when it capsized and sank, resulting in 20 passangers losing their lives in the River. During this time it is assumed the method of propulsion for the ferry was through sweeps and oars and possibly with Stay Ropes.

Pictures courtesy of Derek Tait

Ferry No.3


The third Ferry used engines recovered from Ferry No.2, the cost was kept down to £1,300 and it was a much luckier vessel, serving for 35 years!


Ferry No.4


The fourth Ferry began its service in 1891 and had an increased capacity and served well, making a good profit for Saltash as it cost just £2,200 to build. But after a short period, the Ferry broke down and Ferry No.3 had to be recalled to the water.


In 1895 the Ferry was withdrawn from service for re-boilering, the service continued with Reynold's Tugs and a barge.


Ferry No.5


The fifth Ferry was built at a cost of £3,596 and began operation on Monday 4th October 1911. It could hold two rows of four vehicles, plus horses and boasted a promenaed deck each side. A ceremony was held to initiate the start of Ferry No.5's service, a large cheering crowd watched as the Ferry made the crossing in record time, with members of the Saltash Corporation on board.


The Ferry operated until 11pm daily, except by special arrangement, after which a foot passenger ferry was available at the inflated price of 10 shillings (50 pence) compared to the day time rate of 1d (2 pence). Not all was greed however as, 3 years after War was declared in  in 1917, crossings were made FREE to Servicemen and Nurses in uniform.

Pictures courtesy of Derek Tait

Pictures courtesy of Derek Tait

1832 - 1955


In 1832 the Earl of Morley, Mr. A. Edgecumbe, alongside Sir William Molesworth & others secured an Act of Parliament to purchase the Ferry Rights & Establish a Steam Powered Floating Bridge. The Saltash Floating Bridge Act2 William IV (1831-32) received Roayl Assent on 28th March 1832.


After this, a number of Ferries with varying success rates were introduced.


Ferry No.1


​Built at Turnchapel, it was 30ft wide, ran for two years and crossed the Tamar in 4.5 minutes. The Ferry was withdrawn for repair in 1834, but never returned to the water. Oar propelled horse boats were put back, and the Saltash Corporation claiming the rights had lapsed, began charging crossings at the old rate.


Ferry No.2


On May 31st 1850 a new lease was granted for 21 years to reintroduce a Steam Ferry at a rent of £195 per annum. This Ferry started to run on Tuesday 1st July 1851, it had two 6 Horse Power Condensing Engines and could carry between 80 and 100 passangers as well as three carriages with a pair of horses each. The journey time across the river was 6 minutes.


In 1865 the Ferry was incorrectly moored and as a consequene sank into the mud and was lost!

Pictures courtesy of Derek Tait

Ferry No.6


No.6 was purchased in 1927 from Messrs. Phillip & Son at a cost of £8,950, with a capacity of 3 rows taking approximately 15 cars each. This was increased in 1938 by widening the deck by cutting in half and and inserting a 5ft section.


Ferry No.7


No.7 was the largest Ferry so far, as well as the mostly costly at £10,750. It was 73ft long and 42ft wide and could take 4 rows of 6 cars each. After trials the Mayor of Saltash received the Ferry on 26th December 1933. Meanwhile, Ferry No.4 was sold, but sank under tow off Pentreath.


Both Ferry No.6 and No.7 survived the War and went on until the Crossings closure in 1961. In July 1955 Ferry No.6 was sent for repair and modernisation to Millbay Docks. After the work was completed the move back to Saltash did not go smoothly at all, it broke free in strong winds and thrashed about for a whole, causing some minor damage but was eventually brought under control, and returned to site and service, allowing Ferry No.7 to undergo repairs.


During the finanical year 1956/7 the Ferry ran up a loss of £6,613, the first time since Wars end. The last ferry ran at 11pm from Saltash and 11:15pm from Saltash Passage in 1961.

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