King Harry Ferry Collection (82 Items)

In 1887, Colonel Arthur Tremayne of Carclew, gathered together some friends with the idea of forming a company to run a steam-driven ferry bridge across the Fal River in place of the old barge-like, man-propelled ferry which was then being used. The ferry also carried livestock and while a gentleman’s horse was allowed to travel on board, the farmer’s horse and his livestock had to swim alongside. Farmers worried about missing stock would often position small boats downstream to haul out strays.

On April 18, 1888, the King Harry Steam Ferry Company was formed, to acquire the lease and charter for the operation of a steam ferry bridge across the Fal River at King Harry Passage, together with the land and property. The owner of the land at that time was Mr C Davies-Gilbert of Trelissick, who charged a rent of £24 per annum. This lease was originally for 90 years, but in 1934 it was terminated, and the land, property and charter were acquired by the Company from the Trustees of the Davies-Gilbert family.

Thus there has been a floating bridge operating over the upper reaches of the Fal since 1889 and a rowing ferry for more than 500 years. The new ferry is the 7th to operate on the service since 1888. There remains some dispute over why the crossing is called King Harry; the two most common suggestions are both related to English kings. The first and least likely is that King Henry VIII and one of his wives visited the area to inspect the castles that he had commissioned at St Mawes and Falmouth to protect the strategically important Carrick Roads from French and Spanish privateers and invasion. The second and more likely reason is that the in the woods to the North East of the crossing point, the local Lord of the Manor had a small Chapel dedicated to King Henry IV and his wife Queen Anne. The Chapel was known as the Chapel of King Henry and over time the Cornish name of Cybellys (crossing or ferry boat) was supplanted by King Harry Passage and thus King Harry Ferry crossing.

Today the King Harry Ferry Company continues to connect St Mawes and the Roseland Peninsular with Feock, Truro and Falmouth and is an iconic part of Cornwall’s history. It operates between Feock and Philleigh seven days a week. It crosses every 10 mins across the 300 meter stretch of water. This short ferry avoids the alternative 27 mile route through Truro & Tresillian. Each year the King Harry Ferry saves 5 million car miles, 1.7 million kg of CO2 and ¾ of a million litres of fuel. It carries 300,000 cars every single year.

It is tremendous to have this selection of images from the King Harry Ferry archive. This short introduction is an extract from the company’s website. Further information can be found on the company’s website:





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c. 1900
c. 1900