New Portsmouth and Fishbourne Ferry Service
New Tow-boat Service Introduced March 1926.
Southern Railway announced last week the opening of a new tow boat service from Fishbourne to Portsmouth, it will both improve the commercial health and popularity of the island, For many years, the only method of landing cargo has been at a slipway to the east of Ryde Pier, the draw back to this was, it had to be done at high tide. Other problems encounter were the continual silting by sand and heavy seas resulted in the cancellation of the service, which then was diverted to the Southampton – Cowes route.
Irrespective of these problems, traffic has steadily increased and the management of Southern Railway have been looking to improve the service.
A decision was taken to transfer the carrying of freight from Ryde to a new site of about two acres known as Fishbourne Farm Estate at Wootton Creek. A new channel needed to be dredged to eight feet at a low spring tide to allow the tow boats to approach at any time or tide. Dredging work started early last year, and shore work on the 10th March. The boats will land on a specially built slipway which has been paved with concrete blocks which has been equipped with all the necessary mooring facilities. Four dolphin markers have been erected at the entrance to the creek to indicate the newly dredged channel.
From the slipway, a straight concrete road has been laid some 200 yards long and 18 feet wide leading directly into Fishbourne Lane [Note the road was built under the supervision of the Southern Railways docks engineer]. The new service will provide transport for motor cars and other vehicle in addition to horses, cattle and pigs. On each side of the road the considerable ground has been utilised for the erection of comfortable offices, waiting rooms, car parking and a lock-up garage. There is standing for 15 cows with tethering facilities, a pen for 100 pigs and 6 boars. There is a good supply of water from the Rural District Council mains, and sanitary arrangements are of a high order.
The facilities also include a 200 square foot lay-by basin with moorings for the tugs and boats engaged in the operation. A residence for the clerk in charge has been provided. A telephone has been installed for travellers together with separate ladies and gentlemen’s waiting rooms. The considerable amount of unused land to either side leaves room for future expansion. The requirement of motorists have been the first consideration in the design of the shore facilities with a petrol pump adjacent to the offices together with other arrangements to improve travel arrangements.
The approximate distances from the new terminal are Ryde 3½, Cowes 5½, Newport 5, Sandown 9, Ventnor 15, Yarmouth 15½, and Wootton Station 2. The increase in motor traffic was one of the deciding factors in opening the new ferry port, traffic figures for cars for the last three years are 1923 — 1108, 1924 — 1350 and last year 1718. The present service offers two round trips per day and additional services will be run at Easter. Plans are in hand to increase the number journeys in summer time and also offer a Sunday service. The tugs in use on the service are capable of towing up to three barges with three to five cars on each [subject to size]. On Tuesday the 25th a group of Southern Railway senior managers visited the new terminal, they travelled from Portsmouth to Ryde and had lunch at the Esplanade Hotel before inspecting the new facilities. They travelled from Ryde by car and were given a demonstration of the method of loading the cars onto the barges.
The scheme has involved heavy expenditure by Southern Railway and given employment to a considerable number of men for about 12 months.
Source: Isle of Wight County Press, 26th March 1926.This page was last edited on: 4th March, 2015 06:17:13