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Ferrytale ending for the Princess

By This is Gloucestershire  |  Posted: August 13, 2009

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Ten years after being saved from a watery grave the famous Beachley to Aust ferry has reached its final resting place.

The Severn Princess will form part of a new maritime exhibition on the banks of the River Wye after her rescuers admitted she will never sail again.

A group of history enthusiasts headed by former Wyedean teacher Tim Ryan salvaged the boat from the bottom of the sea off the Irish coast in 1999 and have spent 10 years restoring it.

Tim said: "The idea of getting the boat seaworthy was always more of a pipe-dream than reality. The plan was to try to restore the ferry and make her accessible to the public and I am delighted that we are now close to making that happen."

The final part of the boat's restoration will start this week and Tim says after a number of ups and downs the project is now well and truly back on track.

Since bringing the ferry back from Ireland Tim and his colleagues have completely re-fitted and refurbished the boat. They have also had to repair damage suffered during the Princess's ill-fated mooring in Beachley before returning to Chepstow.

The ferry operated on the Severn from 1926 until the opening of the Severn Bridge 40 years later.

Famous ferry riders included The Beatles and Bob Dylan who took the boat across to Beachley during tours in the 1960s.

Tim took the ferry as a boy and said the project has a lot of support from the local community as it reminds people of a bygone age.

He said: "I have had so many stories from people who used to use the ferry and it really does evoke strong memories of a different era when life was much simpler."

One man who remembers the ferry well is historian John Belcher who lives in Joyford Hill.

He said: "The ferry was a vital link before the Severn Bridge opened. It was the quickest way to get to Bristol and I used to take the ferry when I had my first teaching job there. I remember it used to cost about half a crown and it always seemed like a bit of an adventure."

One journey that sticks in John's memory was at the end of the school term in May 1965 when he caught the ferry back to the Forest to get married.

The Severn Princess is part of wider plans to regenerate the area under the Brunel bridge at Chepstow. The town council has applied for planning permission and hopes to have the scheme completed by 2012.

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    JIM, chepstow  |  November 07 2009, 9:22PM

    nothing has happened to the severn princess in years it is rusting under the new wyebridge

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    Michael Allisstone, Chichester  |  October 08 2009, 10:07PM

    My father was manager iof the National Provincial Bank in Chepstow from 1948 to 1958, when I was a teenager. We crossed the R Severn on the ferry many times and I have several black and white photographs of our car boarding at Beachley if they are of interest.