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Author Topic: The last swivel ferry  (Read 848 times)
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« on: October 03, 2018, 10:28:01 pm »

The other day we were discussing "Stromeferry - No Ferry" and I recall Kylestrome and Corran ferries .... just one left

From The BBC

Falling tide leaves historic Skye ferry high and dry

A rapidly dropping tide left a historic ferry aground on its slip on Tuesday.

The MV Glenachulish, the world's last sea-going, manually-operated, turntable ferry, operates on the Kylerhea Narrows between Glenelg and Skye.

It was left high and dry on its slip at Kylerhea in Skye during a falling tide on the fast flowing narrows.

Kyle of Lochalsh and Mallaig RNLI lifeboats along with two passing ships went to the aid of the ferry's crew. The boat was refloated at high tide.

Did we have any swivel ferries in the South West?

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« Reply #1 on: October 03, 2018, 11:24:07 pm »

Not quite the same but the Aust Ferries, replaced by the Severn Bridge, had turntables on the decks to aid the side loading and unloading of vehicles.


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« Reply #2 on: October 04, 2018, 08:23:00 am »

Travelled on the Aust ferry just the once, on the way to a shed bash in South Wales. It was an interesting experience.
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« Reply #3 on: October 04, 2018, 09:19:47 am »

The simple answer to Graham's question is no, there haven't been any. The Aust ferry comes closest, but was a different operating system.

I would put a slight caveat on the 'no', in that historic records of ferries are not comprehensive and it is not always clear precisely what operating system any boat used, but I'm pretty certain none have ever operated in this area.

Most other vehicle carrying estuary ferries, both existing ones like King Harry in Cornwall or at Sandbanks in Dorset, and ones that stopped running during the 20th century, like the Arlingham to Newnham ferry across the Severn in Gloucestershire, are or were chain operated and allowed vehicles to enter at one end and drive off at the other. The few island ferries we have, such as to the Scillies, were drive on and off ships large enough for vehicles to manoeuvre within the vessel.

Manually operated turntable ferries seem to have been a Scottish speciality, used mostly to cross narrow lochs. AFAIK the Glenelg ferry was the only sea crossing ferry, i.e. to reach an island, to ever use this system in this country.
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« Reply #4 on: October 04, 2018, 09:37:22 am »

I used the Glenelg ferry when I cycled around the Scottish coast in 2005, and it was one of the highlights of that trip. It is the original ferry route to Skye, and its location is quite stunning. On both sides, it can only be reached by small lanes that climb over passes above 1,000 feet high, and on the mainland side in particular, the route up is especially steep. When you are down at the ferry and look all around you, you realise just how cut off that area is from the rest of Britain, hemmed in by mountains on all sides. Habitation is very sparse, though there is a small community at Glenelg, two miles from the ferry slip, and one of Britain's most isolated communities can be found at the end of the dead-end lane that runs from Glenelg south, at Arnisdale and Corran on Loch Hourn.

The narrows that the ferry crosses are subject to strong tides and strong winds, so can be challenging to operate. They also cross an area of sea that teams with wildlife, and when I crossed it was wonderful to watch the many seals that followed the ferry as it crossed, undoubtedly attracted by the fish it was dragging up.

The operation of the ferry is something to behold. When I was there, the operator would walk round the turntable on the outside of the safety railing as it turned while the boat was crossing. I would imagine Elf and Safety would not have been happy with this, but their eyes would have been transfixed by the views all around and the feel of the wind and smell of the sea, which made the crossing quite magical.
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