Brian Moseley, Plymouth
Webpage created: February 18, 2018
Webpage updated: March 08, 2020




The Cremyll Ferry at Admiral's Hard, East Stonehouse.
From a postcard.

The parish of Maker, in which Cremyll lies, was part of the West Saxon King's land before 1066 and was thus in the County of Devon.  The old County boundary is still marked between the villages of Kingsand and Cawsand. 

Cremyll was then known as West Stonehouse and this may date the commencement of the ferry link with East Stonehouse. 

The first actual reference to a ferry here first appears in the papers of Reginald de Valletort, who held the Honour of Trematon from Count Robert of Mortain.  This land included Maker, Sutton and King's Tamerton, together with the ferries at Saltash and Cremyll.  In 1204 Reginald de Valletort granted the ferry rights to Ralph Edgcumbe whose family leased it to various people until 1943 when the Millbrook Steamboat and Trading Company took over its management.  They finally bought it from the Edgcumbe family in June 1945.

During the family's ownership the Earl of Mount Edgcumbe  continually refused to acquire a steamboat to replace the open rowing boats then used.  He declined an offer from the Oreston and Turnchapel Steamboat Company Limited in 1882 to operate a service on the days Mount Edgcumbe Park was open to the public yet only two years later the Earl bought the "Dodo" and then the "Ferryboat".  The  Earl charged extra for the superior accommodation of the  steamboats.

One further steamboat was acquired during 1884, the "Shuttlecock" and another, the "Armadillo", followed in 1886.  In addition there is believed to have been another boat called the "Carrier" that had a private cabin for the use of the Earl and his family and guests.  A horse-boat was also maintained for transporting horses and carts across the river to Cremyll and Millbrook.  The "Shuttlecock" broke from her moorings at Cremyll in 1910 and was wrecked at Mount Wise.

In 1925 the local ship builder, Messrs Rogers and Company (Shipbuilders) Limited, designed and built a new "Shuttlecock", which joined the other two in providing the Cremyll Ferry service.  In 1926 the "Armadillo" was replaced by a new boat of that name, also designed and built by Messrs Rogers and Company.

A change of ownership came very quickly after the end of the Second World War.  The Fifth Earl of Mount Edgcumbe died in 1944 and in any case his home, Mount  Edcgumbe House, had been badly damaged during the War.  In June 1945 the Estate sold the ferry rights to the Millbrook Steamboat and Trading Company Limited rather than Cornwall County Council.

During 1945 the "Shuttlecock" was converted to diesel engine and the "Armadillo" followed during the winter of 1946-47.  They were both also renamed: "Shuttlecock" became the "Southern Belle" and "Armadillo" became the "Northern Belle". The latter, which did not have a top deck, then became the scheduled boat on the Cremyll Ferry until Thursday December 19th 2013 when she came in to collision with a Royal Naval landing craft from HMS "Raleigh".

The "Northern Belle" at Cremyll, 1960s.
From a postcard.