Partly Cloudy

Partly Cloudy

max temp: 14°C

min temp: 11°C

ESTD 1874 Search

Butley: Maggie makes history to become ferry’s first female oarsman

10:30 14 August 2014

Maggie Scorer has become the Butley Ferry's first female ferryman.

Maggie Scorer has become the Butley Ferry's first female ferryman.

Since the 16th century, Butley Ferry has carried passengers across a stretch of Suffolk river near Orford – saving them a five-mile walk to reach their destination.

Maggie Scorer has become the Butley Ferry's first female ferryman. Pictured with Maggie is Dr Tim Dudgeon, chairman of Butley Ferry.Maggie Scorer has become the Butley Ferry's first female ferryman. Pictured with Maggie is Dr Tim Dudgeon, chairman of Butley Ferry.

But for the last 500 years, only men have ever been entrusted with the oars – that is until Maggie Scorer stepped up to become the first female to row the boat in its history.

The 65-year-old makes the journey across the River Butley seem a relaxing cruise for her passengers, but controlling the heavy boat in high winds and strong currents can be an exhausting task.

Tim Dudgeon, a local GP with the Peninsula Practice, took over as ferry chairman from Simon Barrow last November and also rows about six times a year. He invited Maggie to become one of 17 volunteer oarsmen who operate the service, sponsored by the Alde and Ore Association.

Maggie, a mother of four and grandmother of seven – with another on the way – said: “Tim asked me if I’d me interested and I thought ‘why not?’

“I have rowed and sailed for most of my life and keep a boat here – I’m an outdoor person and a bit of a water baby.”

The ferry, which travels between Capel St Andrew and Gedrave, can collect up to £150 on a busy day and makes an average of £2,300 annually – about £800 of which goes on upkeep and expenses, with the rest generated for the Alde and Ore Association.

Oddly enough, the £2 fee for adults taking the ferry makes it more expensive per inch to travel on than Concorde, but both Maggie and Tim agree its still fantastic value.

It can accommodate up to four adults or two adults and two bikes, and by the end of July this year had carried 472 adults, 24 children and 192 bikes.

Operating on Easter Saturday and every bank holiday, Saturday and Sunday until the end of September, it is one of four foot ferries in the Suffolk Coast and Heath Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, along with Harwich Ferry, Bawdsey Ferry and Walberswick Ferry, which is also operated by a woman, Dani Church, the fifth generation of her family to ferry passengers across the River Blyth.

The river at Butley, a tributary of the Alde and Ore, is also a haven for wildlife. In the space of only half an hour yesterday, sightings included a marsh harrier, a tern, three avocets, a pair of kestrels and a seal.

Anyone interested in becoming a ferryman can email Volunteers currently range in age from 50 to their late 70s. To become a ferryman you need to be physically able, with some knowledge of the water, boats and tides.

A ferryman of the year award is presented every year, with the winner getting to keep a painting of the ferry for the next year.

Next spring, Maggie will be swapping paddle power for pedal power as she embarks on a 5,000-mile fundraising bike ride around the coast of Britain in aid of the Anthony Nolan blood cancer charity and bone marrow register, and for the stillbirth and neonatal death charity Sands.

She will be joined on the journey by seven-year-old golden retriever Oscar, who will be towed along in a carriage by the bike.

Maggie, whose son-in-law was diagnosed with bone marrow disorder myelofibrosis but received a transplant in March, said: “The more money one can give to improve research, the better.

“I’ve got an adventurous spirit and Oscar has already been sailing half way round the world with me and crossed the equator.

“He is a true man’s best friend.”

Maggie and Oscar, who sets off next March, will be covering an average of 30 miles a day, over the course of about five months. She will soon be launching the website, where updates will be posted on preparations and the journey itself.


Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other East Anglian Daily Times visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by East Anglian Daily Times staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique East Anglian Daily Times account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

Frankel welcomes guests to Newmarket National Heritage Centre

Her Majesty The Queen is to officially open the new £15million National Heritage Centre for Horseracing and Sporting Art in the Suffolk town of Newmarket, where many of her own horses are trained and stabled.

Abnormal loads will be making their way along the roads of Suffolk over the next two weeks

Motorists in Suffolk are being warned to watch out for traffic delays as three abnormal loads slowly make their way along the county’s roads over the next two weeks.

Halloween party at Orford  in November 1972

The shops in Ipswich town centre are stocked up with witches outfits and trick or treat supplies, and supermarkets are doing a roaring trade in pumpkins as Halloween fast approaches.

The Long Shop, Leiston, the Final Fling, steam engines and stalls 
- Roger Threadgold and Dave Bennett with their Classic Butchers Van

Exhibits at one of Suffolk’s favourite museums got all steamed up for the final time this season.

Pause With a Cause Dog Walk at Glemham Hall on Sunday for East Anglian Air Ambulance. Pictured:  Julie Knights with  Flash, Bella and Elba

The second Paws with a Cause dog walk took place at Glemham Hall at the weekend, raising vital funds for the East Anglian Air Ambulance (EAAA).

File photo dated 12/08/2010 of a plane taking off from Heathrow airport in Middlesex PRESS ASSOCIATION

Expansion of Heathrow airport has been given the go-ahead by ministers, according to the BBC.

Sir Robert Hitcham Primary School in Debenham will be the site for the new swimming pool, that can also be used by the community.
Eddie Alcock, Gavin Middleton, Sacha Feeney-Howells and Head Teacher Julia van Ek with the children.

Campaigners who have worked tirelessly to raise half the cash needed for a new community swimming pool have hit a funding block – and fear they may lose the money they have already accrued.

Most read

Great Days Out


Click here to view
the Great Days Out


Most commented


Show Job Lists


Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

MyDate24 MyPhotos24