Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Two fords and a ferry

So where did Twyford lane once go?


It forded the river of course :)


Until the Willington Bridge was built in 1839, there was no dry crossing over the river  between Burton-upon-Trent, c8 miles upstream of Twyford, and Swarkestone, c4 miles down. The relatively shallow water at Twyford made it one of few places where it was possible to cross in reasonable safety and the Trent is known to have been forded here since Roman times.

The name Twyford actually means two fords as there are two possible crossings at this point. Nevertheless, standing here looking across the river, I can guarantee that I would not have wanted to try either! 


At some point, the ford was superseded by the ferry.

The boat used was a chain ferry, hand-winched across the river along the course of a chain fixed between two posts. The original posts are still in place on either bank. One can be seen just behind the plough, now being used as a lifebelt stand.


Records do not show the exact date from which a ferry was installed, but it was used in 1790 by John Byng, fifth Viscount Torrington (1743-1813). Torrington was a famous diarist and refers to the ferry in his travel journals, 'The Torrington Diaries' (published post-humously in 1934). There is also an even earlier reference to the existence of a ferry, made by William Woolley in his historical writings of 1712.

As well as travellers, the ferry was used by locals who grazed their cattle in pastures across the river and, slightly more unusually, as a hearse after the self-hanging of a stranger in the village. The body was ferried across the river to be buried because a suicide could not be laid to rest in the consecrated ground of the church graveyard.


The photograph below, shows the ferry in action in 1899.

 

Then, in 1962 -3 came the coldest winter for 200 years. It brought blizzards, snow drifts, blocks of ice, and temperatures lower than -20 °C, beating the Great Freeze of '47 and becoming the coldest on record since 1740. The months of snow and relentless cold finally ended in March of 1963, beginning with a south westerly breeze which rapidly took temperatures up to 17 degrees celcius. The resulting thaw brought widespread flooding which, amongst many other more significant consequences, washed away the Twyford ferry.

Having been made somewhat redundant by the building of the bridge at Willington (2 miles upstream) and due to the fact that it was not suitable for cars, the ferry was never replaced. 

Now the river is empty and quiet as it rolls by slowly, reflecting the autumn sunshine.



Time to drift over to Jenny Matlock and see what other posts are on offer for Alphabe-Thursday and the letter F.

28 comments:

  1. I love all the pictures of your blog... waiting forward for your next post.

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  2. how very interesting - love learning the history of our land - particularly liked the old photo. Judith

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  3. Great stuff today, H. Particularly loved that old photo and your last shot. I does look mighty peaceful.

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  4. Love the old photos and the history lesson.

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  5. Wonderful photos and history!

    XOXO LOLA:)

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  6. IT is always fun to read more about a place and your post was even more interesting with the photos you shared.

    Blessings & Aloha!
    Thank you so, so much for stopping by. I appreciate your encouraging words regarding my dad's surgery tomorrow and it is so good to hear that your husband's past bypass surgeries went well.

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  7. This was such a fascinating post. I recently read Daphne DuMaurier's The House on the Strand, and your descriptions brought back some of her imagery. Thanks for the bit of history!

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  8. Love that old photo! It' hard to imagine a ferry being hand winched...Great F post :-)

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  9. Lovely photos and fascinating information on Fording the river and the Ferry. Love the old photo...so much historic information there. Great Letter F post. Your photography is Fantastic.

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  10. I loved this post ... wonderful pictures and and interesting bit of history and such!

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  11. This is so interesting! Our son and his wife live outside Lexington, Kentucky. They are really in the country! He gave us a short cut to the interstate, but failed to tell us that we had to cross the river on a ferry that could take only one car at a time. We were surprised, but enjoyed it! The ferry had been operating since the 1700's!

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  12. What a beautiful spot. It would be great to have taken a ferry ride across. Thanks for stopping by to check out my brain.

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  13. Love the pictures :) What an incredible history this river had. It would have been great to see the ferry in operation today but the river is beautiful even without it :)

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  14. A history lesson with lovely posts! Fun! Thanks and I really enjoyed this today. Anne

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  15. The photos of the river are lovely. I like that you were able to find a photo of the ferry!

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  16. Very relaxing and fab facts!

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  17. What a Fascinating history! And such Fabulous Fotos. Fun touch, that Foto of the old Ferry. Fantastic, H!

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  18. What a great old photo that was - I wonder if all those well-dressed people fit into that small buggy.

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  19. You always have the most interesting posts!

    Thanks.

    =)

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  20. What a charming location! Thanks for providing some local history!

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  21. Very interesting information about the area. I've been on about 3 or 4 ferrys. I didn't mind waiting for the Ferry to come back so we could pass the river. It made us slow down on our trip and take in the surroundings. If we hadn't we would have missed some beautiful scenery. I enjoyed your post! Thanks~Ames

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  22. What a beautiful F post, information I never knew floating along smoothly with your words!

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  23. I have always been fascinated by ferry's...and this spot looks particularly lovely. That is 39 FEET right?

    It is not hard to imagine times gone by in these lovely pastoral photos.

    Thank you for linking to Alphabe-Thursday's letter 'F'!

    A+

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  24. That was a fascinating 'f' post. Thanks so much for sharing the photos and history. So much fun!

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  25. I love the empty and quiet! The river seems so idyllic. lovely. Can you imagine hand-winching all day long?!

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  26. 'Ford & ferry' Wonderful F-words. Great history lesson. Beautiful photos. Thank you for sharing this journey through time!
    Best wishes,
    Anna
    Anna's Alphabe-Thursday

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