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From ford to ferry
0:00am Fri May 16, 2008
 
Nottinghamshire County Council community archaeologist Mr Alaistair Bush points out what could be the remains of the original ferry used to take people across the River Trent at Hazelford Ferry. The remains are part of a wooden landing area. - 080508MAT1-11
Nottinghamshire County Council community archaeologist Mr Alaistair Bush points out what could be the remains of the original ferry used to take people across the River Trent at Hazelford Ferry. The remains are part of a wooden landing area. - 080508MAT1-11
The site of an ancient river crossing has been renovated and its history recorded.
he Star and Garter Hotel (now Hazelford Care Home)  at Hazelford Ferry, Bleasby, in the early part of the 19th Century. - 080508MAT1-24
The Star and Garter Hotel (now Hazelford Care Home) at Hazelford Ferry, Bleasby, in the early part of the 19th Century. - 080508MAT1-24
People living near Hazelford Ferry, Bleasby, have helped to transform the site into a public picnic area.

For hundreds of years Hazelford Ferry was the only recognised crossing on the River Trent between Newark and Nottingham.

The first written reference is in a Saxon Charter of 956 when the crossing was shallow enough for people to use as a ford and walk-through.

In 1275 the first reference to the crossing as a ferry is in documents, in the county records office and the national archive, that mention the route was blocked by two sunken boats.

In subsequent years the river was dredged to make it suitable for larger, heavier boats. It was then too deep to cross on foot so the ferry became the only way to get from one side to the other.

A road map from 1720 shows Hazelford Ferry as part of a well-used route from Grimsby to Nottingham.

The map also shows a building, believed to be the Hazelford Ferry Inn, which was later renamed the Star and Garter Hotel and is now Hazelford Care Home.

Before Gunthorpe Toll Bridge was built in 1875 the ferry was large enough to take a horse and carriage across the river.

By the end of the 19th Century the ferry was a small boat that was punted across the river by the ferryman.

ooking at the new information board that details the history of Hazelford Ferry, Bleasby, are parish councillor Mrs Barbara Cast and Mr Roger Bennett, of Gibsmere. - 080508MAT1-27
Looking at the new information board that details the history of Hazelford Ferry, Bleasby, are parish councillor Mrs Barbara Cast and Mr Roger Bennett, of Gibsmere. - 080508MAT1-27
The ferry continued to operate until the second world war when it was stopped.

Villagers believe it reopened for a short period after the war before being stopped completely.

All that remains of the crossing is the wooden landing area, a winch that was used to pull the ferry out of the water, and the remains of a wooden boat.

A community archaeologist for Nottinghamshire County Council, Mr Alaistair Bush, believes that may be the ferry.

He said the remains, on the riverbank on the wooden landing area, showed the vessel was made using a clinker construction, where wooden planks overlapped to make it watertight.

Bleasby parish councillor Mrs Barbara Cast said the council wanted to improve the ferry site, which had been abandoned for many years, and do something to record its history.

“This site was derelict,” she said.

“The parish council decided it needed to do something about it and, having been unable to find out who owned the land, decided to take it over.”

Parish councillors and residents of Bleasby and Gibsmere cleared the area and planted a wildflower meadow. Two wooden benches were already there.

“We’ve created a place for people to sit and enjoy the river,” Mrs Cast said.

“The area is used a lot by hikers walking along the Trent Valley Way and recently care home residents have started to come out here and sit and have their morning coffee.”

The county council’s Building Better Communities scheme provided £5,000 to renovate the area.

That also paid for a sign giving a brief history of Hazelford Ferry, as well as the building of a base for the winch mechanism.

The county councillor for the area, Mr Andy Stewart, said: “The site has got historic interest and educational interest.

“In the future when people come here for a picnic children will be able to read the sign and learn a bit of history about how people used to cross the river.”

 
Posted on 10:48pm Tue Sep 24, 2013

By Hazelford

Before moving to Bleasby my family came to the caravan site by the river at Hazelford every weekend between March and September every year in the 1950s and 1960s. The ferry then was a clinker boat with an outboard engine. It was operated by a man we all called Cookie and his family. They had a green painted chalet on the opposite bank about 300 yards upstream from the then Star and Garter pub (now a care home) at the foot of the Trent Hills where the trees meet the level ground.The ferry operated from a few yards upstream from the pub to the opposite bank. It was used mainly by fishermen and also the odd day tripper. The winch was never used by the ferry but was installed by the Trent Powerboat and Ski Club to winch speed boats in and out of the water via the slipway.Where the bank has been landscaped near the pub there was a landing stage which was either a metal gravel barge/container or some kind of landing craft from World War 2.As well as the caravaners a group of pleasure boat families would travel down every weekend from Nottingham on the river and back again each Sunday afternoon.The river was used by commercial barges well into the 1960s bringing petrol and timber from Hull to Nottingham. One barge company was called John Harker Barges and when full they would sit very low in the river and create great waves. Legend had it that when empty and high in the water going back downstream,when the river was in flood during the winter they would go over the weirs without bothering to use the locks but I have no idea if this was true or is just myth.

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