South West Wales

£300,000 grant to revive Tywi estuary ferry crossing

Ferry crossing between Llansteffan and Ferryside Image copyright People's Collection Wales
Image caption The Tywi estuary crossing c. 1905

Plans to revive an ancient ferry crossing in Carmarthenshire have received a cash boost of £300,000.

The Coastal Communities grant has been awarded to a group which wants to restore the service between Ferryside and Llansteffan.

The crossing dates back 1,000 years and was a favourite with 19th and early 20th Century tourists from the south Wales valleys during "miners fortnight".

It was discontinued in the 1950s.

This left walkers and cyclists facing an 18 mile (29km) round trip up the estuary.

The grant will allow the group to build a "bespoke amphibious ferry boat" fitted with retractable wheels like an aircraft, to avoid the need for a jetty.

Image caption Ferryside beach looking towards Llansteffan

It will initially run daily for eight and a half months of the year, with the aim of an all year-round service in the future.

The project will create five jobs, including two skippers and mates and administrative posts, and it is hoped the ferry will start operating next year.

Speaking on Good Morning Wales, Les Jones from Carmarthen Bay Ferries said the Tywi estuary was a difficult place to run a ferry due to "a very high tidal range, strong currents and shifting sand banks".

He said they had looked at using a conventional boat, but would need to "improve the jetty in Ferryside and build an extremely long one in Llansteffan".

He said the amphibious boat "will be driven on land and will perform as a very fast motorboat when on the water".

It is being designed by a company in Solva, Pembrokeshire.

Image caption Les Jones and Rob Bamford from Carmarthen Bay Ferries

Rob Bamford, also from Carmarthen Bay Ferries, said they surveyed both communities and found that "there was a good interest for using a ferry if one was in place".

He said it would "bring the communities together" for both locals and tourists, and offer excursions.

The idea was the brainchild of retired Liverpool University professor Kenton Morgan.

He previously said: "It's known there are 400,000 annual visitors to Cefn Sidan beach just along the coast, and tens of thousands of visitors to Llansteffan Castle, Ferryside Castle and Laugharne, with its Dylan Thomas links.

"If the plan is approved, the ferry itself will become a tourist attraction."

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