Image Courtesy of John Shepherd
An early view of the Old Rendel Ferry c1900. Previous attempts at providing both Sail and Steam Ferry's failed as a result of the tidal conditions in the Hamoaze at this stretch of the River Tamar. By the early 1800's an alternative solution was urgently required. The highly respected engineer, Mr James Meadows Rendel was employed to provide a solution. Rendel had already established practical cable ferry services at Dartmouth and proposed a solution based on a steam powered craft driving itself along chains anchored on each side of the 2750 foot wide Hamoaze. The chains were tensioned by counterweights on each bank allowing the shock loads associated with acceleration and braking to be absorbed. The ferry itself had moveable "drawbridges" (or prows) allowing passengers and carriages a proper transition between an inclined slipway and the craft, thus doing away with the need for piers. Although the craft had a central passenger cabin with carriage decks on either side, the principles of operation are retained today. Rendel successfully introduced similar services at Southampton, Portsmouth and Saltash and at least four other UK chain ferry services were established using Rendel's principles elsewhere in the UK. In fact, so successful was Rendel's 1832 design that a second craft was put into service in 1832 at Torpoint to ensure continuous service during periods of maintenance. The two replacement ferries of 1871 and 1878 were of a very similar design to the original ferries although larger and more Unitarian, they kept the central cabin and twin deck layout. Information courtesy of Torpoint Ferry Website.
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