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October 2011: A Berkshire Ferry

Chalmore Ferry House, 1913

This building plan was submitted to Wallingford Borough's councillors for approval in June 1913.  It shows the new ferry house which was built by the Thames crossing at Chalmore Hole, just south of the town.

The ferry now is long gone, but there had been one at Chalmore Hole since 1787, when the Thames Conservancy had first put in a towpath along the river.  The ferry went to Newnham Murren, a tiny village on the Oxfordshire side of the river, and back again.  Barges would unharness their horses, put the animals on the ferry, then reattach the boat and beasts to walk along the towpath on the other side.

These ferries existed at various points along the river, and were as much a feature of the Thames as the Conservancy's series of pound locks, which do still exist today.  Chalmore's importance for the river's navigation meant that for a brief period in the 19th century, there had even been a seasonal lock there.

This lock, taken out of use in 1883, has a fleeting mention in the book 'Three Men and a Boat'.  Unaware that he has an out-of-date map, Jerome K Jerome intends to stop at the lock but cannot understand where it has gone.  As dusk settles, with still no lock in sight, he is forced to continue his journey for another six miles before reaching Cleeve Lock instead.

The Chalmore ferry was based on the use of the river for freight, and as this use decreased, it gradually became obsolete.  The last ferry crossed the river in 1953.  The ferry house remains on the Berkshire side of the Thames, and is now a private house.


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2 response(s) so far…

Helen Warwick
Posted on the : 30 Oct 2015

My ancestors ran the Roebuck Ferry near Tilehurst during the early c19 - do you have and documentation about the pub and ferry?

Posted on the : 12 Nov 2015

Dear Helen Looking through our indexes we do have records that refer to a Roebuck Inn or Hotel in Tilehurst which may be the same pub. There is D/EWK/B4/1/6/8/1-2; D/ECG/T216/1-19; D/ECG/T352/1-2; D/EX 1453/1 and Q/RDC/83B. I'm afraid we could not find a reference to the Ferry though. If you would like to visit us to look at the items mentioned, please look at our opening hours page and call or email using the Contact Us form to make a booking.


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