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13 November 2014

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You are in: Hampshire > Places > Places Features > Hamble's Pink Ladies

Hamble/Warsash Claire ferry

'Claire' sets off to Warsash

Hamble's Pink Ladies

Between the two waterside villages of Hamble and Warsash, a little bright pink ferry plies back and forth. We take a look at its 500 year past and bright future with legendary ferryman Ray Sedgwick and current owner Mike Lindsell.

In the summer months, the River Hamble is chockablock with yachts - with a practically endless line stretching from the entrance of the river right up to Bursledon.

Chugging across this 'marine motorway' you'll see Claire or Emily, the much-loved Hamble/Warsash ferries carrying commuters, holiday-makers, cyclists and ramblers across the 1/4 mile stretch of water.

'Emily' is named after Ray's mother

'Emily' is named after Ray's mother

No-one really knows when the ferry service first started, but local research has dated it back to at least 1493.

The ferry has always carried a maximum of 12 passengers who were originally taken across the river by a ferryman in a small rowing boat, sometimes with their horse (swimming along behind!)

Over the last 500 years the boats and ferryman may have changed but the devoted role certainly hasn't. Running the service really is a labour of love - working seven days a week in all weathers from morning 'till dusk.

Ray the ferryman

Legendary ferryman Ray Sedgwick, who's lived in Hamble all his life, took over the helm in 1958 when he was 21.

The ferry shelter at Warsash

The ferry shelter at Warsash

Ray fits the role of a ferryman from every angle with cap, bushy beard, bright oil-skins and sparkling personality; it's estimated that over the last 50 years he's motored over one million passengers across the water.

"We've had some special occasions here, for instance when Sir Chay Blyth came back from sailing around-the-world I think we had about 1,700 passengers that day."

He's also known around the world as the tourists who visit Hamble fall in love with the quirky ferry and charismatic ferryman and send photos and postcards back to Ray.

Mike Lindsell & Ray Sedgwick

Mike Lindsell & Ray Sedgwick

After 50 years on the job, working practically every day of the year except Christmas Day - at 72, Ray has now retired, but is never far from the river and still pops down to help out most days.

"I've found that since I've officially packed up it is nice a couple of days a week to go off out somewhere and take advantage of my bus pass - but it's still nice to come back here again."

"If I go anywhere I pick somewhere like Lymington where I can go down and still watch the boats on the river."

In the pink

Today the ferries are owned by Mike Lindsell who took over the business from his aunty in 2002 with his twin brother Andy.

Along with the business, a collection of scrap books and photo albums which chart the ferries past was handed on to him.

The pink water taxi

The pink water taxi

Mike was also able to keep the famous Ray as one of his ferrymen: "I think the river will give him up before he gives it up - he's been married to this way of life and this business and he is very, very passionate about it."

It was also a complete lifestyle change for Mike who was working as a manager for Waitrose at the time.

Mike is regularly asked about the ferries' colour - so how did it come about? "My younger brother Paul said, we need to raise the profile of the ferry and we need to do it very drastically and very quickly and jokingly said, let's paint them pink!"

The colour change from white to pink didn't go down too well in the village as Mike explains:

"People went absolutely nuts, I had letters from residents, I had Councilors saying I couldn't paint the boats pink."

"But what's even more interesting, is that now we've got past the initial uproar, if we changed the boats back to white, I think people would complain!"

Mike also introduced a mooring service and a water taxi for boat owners to get to and from their craft and for locals to get from dry land to a waterside pub.

The ferries run on demand from 9am to 5.15pm weekdays, 9am to 5pm weekends.  The River Taxi service covers the whole of the River Hamble.

Hamble-Warsash Ferries, 02380 454512.

last updated: 29/05/2009 at 11:12
created: 21/05/2008

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