Saved Harwich Harbour foot ferry looks at commuter service
- Credit: Archant
A century-old foot ferry that was saved from closure earlier this year has extended its season due to a successful summer.
It was feared that the Harwich Harbour Foot and Bicycle Ferry would have to stop running after former owner Alan Sage announced he was selling up and retiring in April, with no one showing an interest in taking the business on board.
But thanks to a last minute offer by Austrian businessman Christian Zemann, the ferry, which has linked Shotley, Harwich and Felixstowe since 1912, has been given a new lease of life.
Mr Zemann, who now lives in Framlingham with his wife Lucy and young son, said the foot ferry had been extremely busy since he took it over in April. In August, the service carried 5,621 people across the River Stour and River Orwell.
“The ferry is well visited, a lot of people are using it and they love the fact that it is still running,” he said.
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“It was always popular but we have definitely seen a slight increase in passenger numbers and requests.”
The ferry had previously only offered journeys at the weekends in September and ended the season in October.
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However, Mr Zemann has been running a seven-day-a-week service throughout September and will also operate at weekends and school holidays during October to cater for the demand.
The ferry will start back up again on Good Friday next year, by which time Mr Zemann plans to have applied for a new licence from the Maritime and Coastguard Agency to carry more passengers. The ferry can currently carry 12 people at a time.
The 34-year-old also hopes to extend the service to commuters travelling to and from Shotley, Harwich and Felixstowe.
Mr Zemann has contacted bosses at the Port of Felixstowe to see how many of its employees would be interested in using the ferry to get to work.
“If you live in Harwich and you work at the port it takes you an hour one way, but it would only take 10 minutes on the ferry,” he said. “So the advantage is you get to spend one hour 40 minutes more with your family every single day.” Mr Zemann runs the ferry service with his wife alongside their wine importing business Austrian Wine and Spirits.
For information on the Harwich Harbour Foot and Bicycle Ferry, visit: www.harwichharbourferry.com