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24 September 2014

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January, 2004
Hamton Loade Ferry complete
The new ferry
The new Ferry, with its broad, flat hull
The construction of the new £17,000 Hampton Loade ferry, built at the nearby Ironbridge Gorge Museum is finally complete.

The new ferry, funded by The Countryside Agency, is a triumph of local skills and craftsmanship.
audio Jon King visits Blists Hill in January to check on the ferry's progress. Amongst others, he speaks to Helen Morgan from The Countryside Agency. (28k)
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Ironbridge Gorge Museums Trust

The Countryside Agency in the West Midlands

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The new ferry project was completed thanks to a grant of £17,000 from The Countryside Agency.

The new craft weighs 3-4 tonnes and measures 20ft by 9ft.
It has been constructed from larch, with an oak frame. The hull of the boat has been covered with pitch, for added protection.

The new ferry was unveiled on January 12th 2004 and hopes to take to the water in March.

The ferry service dates back to the 17th century and probably proved popular with local forge and farm hands.

This is one the last surviving ferries on the river Severn.

The last ferry was deemed unsafe after more than 35 years of service and had suffered from a number of recent crises including a battering at the hands of flooding and a decline in tourism due to the 2001 foot and mouth crisis.

Yet, if nothing else, this ferry service has stood the test of time.

See our photo gallery of the new Hampton Loade ferry

The river crossing at Hampton Loade has been in use for around 400 years, and may even have provided a route across the Severn during Medieval times. The name 'Loade' is in fact an Old English word meaning ford or river crossing.

The previous ferry at its mooring
The crossing at Hampton Loade

The popularity of local attractions, as well as local walks and activities makes this ferry a vital link.
Darren Page, ferry operator

The new ferry has been officially handed over to its current operator, Darren Page, who hopes that the service will combine with other local schemes to help attract tourists to the area.

The new craft is also something of a local success story - The ferry has been built from larch and oak, sourced by Border Hardwood of Wem and built by local craftsmen at Blists Hill Museum in Ironbridge, using both traditional and contemporary techniques.

The new craft measures 20ft by 9ft, weighs a weighty 3-4 tonnes and will be able to carry up to 12 passengers.

This ferry is an almost identical design to the last one, which was built (in the words of Darren Page) "Like a battleship". That boat survived 38 years in the water, and Darren hopes that this one will prove as robust.

The ferry will start work at the beginning of the Easter tourist season in March. Site engineer Peter Stoddart assured us that he was looking forward to cracking a bottle of Brown Ale across the hull to mark the launch!

However, despite the large investment in the new ferry, its future is far from guaranteed. The service will need continual support and fundraising to keep it afloat.

See our photo gallery of the new Hampton Loade ferry


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