Ferry old tradition could be revived
AN ANCIENT tradition stretching back 600 years could be revived if a new ferryman - or woman - can be found to link two villages.It is unclear exactly when the ferry started to bridge the short crossing from Butley Creek to Orford, near Woodbridge.
AN ANCIENT tradition stretching back 600 years could be revived if a new ferryman - or woman - can be found to link two villages.
It is unclear exactly when the ferry started to bridge the short crossing from Butley Creek to Orford, near Woodbridge. But the Alde and Ore Association is keen to ensure that the crossing, stopped when the last ferryman retired, is resumed.
Nearly 10 years ago Bryan Rogers restarted the service. He took 20 tonnes of hardcore, chippings and boards to reinstate the hards either side of the creek at the old ferry crossing to permit landing at all states of the tide.
The ferry has existed mainly for ramblers and the residents of Boyton and Butley who wanted to use the right of way to Orford. It had fallen into disuse sometime after the first world war.
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The ferry, which crosses 100 yards of water, was at the beginning of the 20th Century most memorably run by a mother of 10. Maria Smith lived in the now demolished Ferry House.
Her grandson Cyril Smith, who was born at Ferry House, says he was told that, "Ria's ferry boat was broken up after it jammed in the sluice during a very high tide."
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That could have been in the early 1930's as Reg Snowden, of Butley, has recalled using the ferry in 1932 when the fare was two pence each way.
The Association, with the encouragement of the Suffolk Coast and Heaths Project, wants to restart the Butley ferry. A boat and people willing to man it on a rota are required and volunteers are needed to help maintain the infrastructure.
Graham Hussey, of Butley, said: "Until we know how much help is available it is just not possible to say what sort of service we can provide, although we would like to think about running a ferry at weekends between the months of April and October."
He became interested in the project because he has often given walkers a lift in his own boat when he has found them dismayed that the ferry was no longer operating. The route has been popular with ramblers and bird-watchers.
Simon Hooton, from the Suffolk Coast and Heaths Project, said the ferry was a useful option for walkers using a designated path from Felixstowe to Kessingland.
"We were disappointed when it had to close and I gather the previous rower had trouble with his shoulder and that is why he retired. We will try and help with finding some of the finance to get the ferry back into operation," said Mr Hooton.