Arley Ferry Boat

  • 15 Dec 2018
  • Bridges and Ferries
  • Back

Arley Ferry was the most northerly of the Worcestershire ferries, and the last to operate. The earliest reference to it is in the Close Rolls of 1323 when it was referred to as 'the Ferry'. In 1602 there is a reference to a 'passage called the Ferry boate' and it was in the possession of the Lyttletons, who were Lords of the Manor of Arley.

Formerly, the ferry boat was pulled across by means of a rope, but it was later secured by a long steel cable to another suspended from two uprights some 200 yards upstream and crossed the river without any motive power than the current, its course being controlled by manipulation of the rudder, though there was a hand winch in the boat.

There was considerable danger crossing at times, especially at night - two men lost their lives crossing here one winters day. There used to be much business here with wagons and carts being constantly brought across. The fare used to be one half-penny per person, then in 1931 it was one penny. Children going to school and people going to church went free. The Leeson family were oatman for many years, one of whom was drowned in the river.

In 1945, the ferry boat was found to be so rotten as to be unusable, and two wooden army landing-crafts were bolted together and used until 1952. A new ferry boat built by Bathurst of Tewkesbury went into service on June 24, 1952. By 1966, the loss of tolls caused concern, for in the previous thirteen years, revenue losses amounted to twenty thousand pounds, and only for two weeks in the year did the ferry earn enough to pays its running costs. In 1969 it was decided to close the ferry and build a footridge at the cost of 43,500. The bridge was opended on January 22, 1972 by Sir Tatton Brinton, MP. and the ferry boat found a resting place on the north of Coal Quay at Bewdley.