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24 September 2014

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You are in: Dorset > Places > Places features > Working on the chain gang

Sandbanks ferry.

Sandbanks ferry.

Working on the chain gang

A century ago the only way to cross the 400 yard stretch of water between Sandbanks and Shell Bay was by rowing boat. Today the ferry "Bramble Bush Bay" lets the chain take the strain.

Since the beginning of the 20th century many ideas were put forward on the best way to transport people and vehicles between what was originally known as North and South Haven. They ranged from a bridge to a chain and cage apparatus between two towers.

Bramble Bush Bay chain ferry engine room.

Bramble Bush Bay engine room

The first ferry

The idea of operating a car ferry service was the brainchild child of Frank Aman who came from the Isle of Wight and in 1926 a steam ferry carrying 15 cars came into operation. The ferry proved instantly popular and soon 100,000 passengers and 12,000 cars were crossing the water during the summer season.

The end of steam

By the 1950s it was decided to replace the old steam ferry with a new diesel-electric powered craft that could carry 28 cars. Soon over 1 million people a year were travelling across the mouth of Poole Harbour.

Skipper Matt Edwards.

Skipper Matt Edwards.

Present day

The current chain ferry known as the Bramble Bush Bay has been in service since 1994. Although it is the fourth car ferry, it is the first one to be named.

One of the skippers Matt Edwards started working for the company as a summer job and has now clocked up 20 years travelling between the two banks. "I love the job" explains Matt "the scenery is spectacular and you're out in the fresh air, although it can get quite cold in winter.         

The ferry which is 242 feet long can carry between 48 and 52 vehicles. Over 1.25 million cars use the service every year.

The future

The ferry which undergoes a refit every two years runs daily from 7am until 11pm. The vessel is manned 24 hours a day (for cleaning and repairs), 365 days a year. It is as popular as ever with more people using the service every year which takes 25 miles off the journey between Poole and Swanage.


last updated: 18/07/2008 at 15:59
created: 17/07/2008

You are in: Dorset > Places > Places features > Working on the chain gang

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