Saturday, August 29, 2009

Ferry across the Dart

Ben loves travelling on the Hauley Ferry. It's not something we do very often, but when we do, he delights in standing right at the front of the pontoon, letting his furry ears blow in the breeze and muttering phrases like "Ahoy there, landlubbers!" and "Newfs Ahoy!" I've even been inspired to make a cushion based on Bayards Cove and the Hauley Ferry (at the top of this post) and was delighted to read its history in the Autumn magazine from the South Hams District Council.

The magazine informed me that there has been a ferry across the river Dart between Kingswear and Bayards Cove since at least 1365 - operated by a Mr William Carey at that time. In 1558 Robert Collyns was the operator, paying 12/- per annum rent to include half of the landing stage. In those days of course, rowing boats and a larger wooden float capable of carrying a small cart, with maybe a horse or two, were the only link across the river.

The picture above is a bit more recent than the 16th century - probably round about 1865 showing the first wooden "horse boat" with a lifting prow at each end capable of carrying two horses and a loaded waggon. It was powered by oars until the arrival of steam power in 1867 and in 1909 the first of a long line of Hauley Tugs was ordered by Mr Heal, the operator at that time, from Philip's boatyard further up the river Dart.

Then came the motor car ... and the ferry continued under a variety of operators right through the war until it was taken over by Dartmouth Corporation in 1949. It was taken over again in 1974 by South Hams council and continues to this day - currently with Hauley Tugs V and VI plying their trade across the Dart.

It's interesting to note how little the view across to Kingswear has changed in the last century - I expect the original operators would still recognise the route across and the landing area. I don't think Newfies were around in those days though - they're from Canada - which of course hadn't been discovered in 1365!!

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