Cremyll Ferry

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The Cremyll Ferry

The Cremyll ferry is a foot passenger ferry across the Hamoaze (the estuary of the River Tamar) from Admirals Hard in Stonehouse, Plymouth, Devon to Cremyll in Cornwall. It is operated by Tamar Cruising, and runs approximately every 30 minutes, with a 10-minute crossing time.


The ancient ferry route dates back to at least the 11th century. For hundreds of years the route was worked with rowing boat, and with horseboats for carrying livestock, carts and cargo. In 1511 the Mount Edgecumbe family took control of the ferry and they would keep control for over four hundred years. In 1885 the first steam ferry was introduced, followed by a further six steam launches, culminating in the present vessels, the second SS Armadillo and SS Shuttlecock which were introduced in 1924 and 1926.[1]

In 1945 the ferry was taken over by the Millbrook Steamboat & Trading Co Ltd, who rebuilt both of the ferries as motor vessels, renaming the SS Armadillo MV Northern Belle, which continued on the Cremyll Ferry route. The SS Shuttlecock was renamed MV Southern Belle, and was used on excursions. During the Millbrook company period many of the other vessels of their fleet were used as relief vessels to the MV Northern Belle.[2]

In 1985 the Millbrook company withdrew from the Tamar, and the Cremyll Ferry was transferred to Tamar Cruising, who also bought the MV Northern Belle, and the MV Queen Boadicea II from Dart Pleasure Craft Ltd, the former parent of the Millbrook Company. Tamar Cruising built two new vessels for cruising from the Mayflower Steps in Plymouth: the MV Plymouth Sound and the MV Plymouth Sound II, though the latter vessel was sold in 1996. The MV Queen Boadicea II was sold in 1991. The fleet was increased to three again in 1998 with the purchase of MV Tamar Belle, formerly the MV Look Ahead II. She was replaced by the MV Queen of Helford in 2004, which also took the name Tamar Belle. All of these vessels were and are mainly used for cruising, and providing relief services on the ferry. MV Northern Belle continues as the main ferry, after 85 years in service. [3]

Current service[edit]

The ferry is operated by Tamar Cruising, who have run it since 1985. In 2008 Plymouth City Council decided to retender the crossing, and Tamar Cruising lost the contract to rivals Sound Cruising, who refurbished 'Plymouth Belle' for the job. Just days before the operation was due to transfer to the new operator, Plymouth City Council announced that Tamar Cruising would continue to run it while an investigation took place into the fairness of awarding the tender to Sound Cruising. Eventually Tamar Cruising won the right to retain the crossing, and was awarded a new seven-year contract starting in June 2010, using a newly overhauled 'Northern Belle'. The company uses 'Tamar Belle' as the reserve vessel on the crossing. The new tender involved a recast clockface timetable, with boats running every half-hour. Additional sailings were added in the evenings, and the enhanced summer timetable was altered to begin earlier, and end later in the season. Fares were also reduced. Tamar Cruising hold the right to run the Cremyll Ferry until at least June 2017.

Fleet list[edit]

Steam period[edit]

Name Built Company Service Notes
SS Dodo 1884 1885 - 1910?
SS Ferryboat 1883 1884?- 1907
SS Shuttlecock (I) 1885 1885–1910
SS Armadillo (I) 1886 1886–1924
SS Carrier (I) 1889? 1889–1927
SS Shuttlecock (II) 1924 1924–1946 Converted to the MV Southern Belle in 1946
SS Armadillo (II) 1926 1926–1946 Converted to the MV Northern Belle in 1947

Millbrook Steamboat & Trading Company period[edit]

MV Northern Belle 1926 1946–1985 Converted from the Armadillo. Regular Ferry
MV Tamar Belle 1927 1946–1959 Relief Ferry
MV Lady Elizabeth 1924 1946–1979 Relief Ferry
MV Eastern Belle 1946 1957–1985 Relief Ferry
MV Edgcumbe Belle 1957 1979–1985 Relief Ferry

Tamar Cruising period[edit]

MV Northern Belle 1926 1985 – present Regular Ferry
MV Queen Boadicea II 1936 1985–1991 Excursions and relief ferry
MV Plymouth Sound 1987 1987 – present Excursions and relief ferry
MV Plymouth Sound II 1990 1990–1996 Excursions
MV Tamar Belle (I) 1960 1998–2004 Excursions and relief ferry. Formerly MV Look Ahead II
MV Tamar Belle (II) 1960 2004 – present Excursions and relief ferry. Formerly MV Queen of Helford

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Langley, M. & Small, S. Estuary & River Ferries of South West England, Waine Research Publications, 1984
  2. ^ Kittridge,A. Steamers & Ferries of the River Tamar & Three Towns District, Twelveheads Press, 2003
  3. ^ Boyle, I,, Referred 2009

External links[edit]