Topsham celebrates new ferry

TOPSHAM residents are celebrating after the launch of the town’s new ferry.

The vessel is three times the size of the previous ferry and has been specially designed to carry bicycles and pedestrians across the River Exe to Topsham Lock.

Around 30 schoolchildren and local residents braved cold and windy conditions at the ferry pier to watch Exeter City councillor Rachel Sutton launch the new boat.

The ferry has been named Shimmer, following a competition among children from Topsham School to come up with a name.

The new vessel was funded partly by the city council from its sustainable transport funding, and party by Devon County Council as part of the funding for the Exe Estuary cycle trail.

Councillor Sutton said: “The Topsham Ferry is extremely popular with walkers and cyclists and this replacement boat will mean that more people get to enjoy the service and are not kept waiting for so long.”

Topsham alderman Mary Evans said she was pleased the town’s traditional ferry crossing had a secure future. She said: “This crossing has been here ever since medieval monks used it to cross over to Buckfast Abbey.

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“It’s a vital part of Topsham’s heritage and we’ve fought like mad to keep it.”

Topsham School teacher Justin Vernon said that naming the ferry had been a great way for the children to learn about their local heritage.

Mr Vernon said: “The ferryman, Mike Stevens, came to school and conducted an assembly with all the children and told them all about the history of the ferry. Then we put a voting box in each of the classes so each child had the chance to suggest a name. It’s good that the school has had the chance to be involved. The children came up with some fantastic names.”

The name Shimmer was originally suggested by Noah Hart, and it proved to be the most popular among the other children.

The Topsham passenger ferry is open for the summer, running daily from Easter until the end of September, from 11am to 5pm, except Tuesdays.

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