Fate of Conisborough Ferry – Questions at Council Meeting.

February 1939

Mexborough and Swinton Times, February 10.

Fate of Conisborough Ferry.

Questions at Council Meeting.

The fate of the £100 Conisborough Ferry boat, which sank a few months ago, was the subject of an interesting discussion at Wednesday’s meeting of Conisborough Urban Council. Cllr J.Hill explained the position of the ferry owners, the Denaby and Cadeby Main Home Coal Carting Committee.

Right of Way.

The matter of the ferry was raised by Cllr F.Kelsall, who stated that he understood that from time immemorial there have been right away over the river, and he asked why the Conisborough Ferry had been discontinued.

Mr Hill explained that the owners of the ferry were the employees at the Denaby and Cadeby Main Collieries and the Home Coal Carting Committee operated the ferry as trustees on their behalf. There have been public access over the river from time immemorial: it took them back to 1500 or 1600

A road was made for a point somewhere near where Mexborough Station now stoodand the riverwas forded by stepping stones, which were laid in the bed of the river, and it was only in flood periods that it was impossible.

Later, the navigation body came along and caused aweir are to be made, and the river afterwards ran 14 feet above the stones. He did not know how the navigation body came into existence but he did know that the Coal Carting Committee tried to be a business concern and that they soon dropped anything that was an uneconomic. 10 years ago they bought the ferryboat for £100 odd, and for four years tt had taken their man 1 1/2 hours a day to pump water out of the boat to keep it afloat. They had taken a list of passengersand hadfound that it averaged two passengers a week. They had to do nine hours pumping to oblige two passengers!

One Way Traffic.

Records showed also that of the people went across a very less than 5% did not return, proving that the ferry was not used as a road for reaching some given destination. The ferry was used in the main by men taking their dogs for a walk and by courting couples.

He wondered how many people would like to take the responsibility of pain a man three pounds a week to operate the ferry for an income of 2d a week; and he also wondered how long the Denaby and Cadeby employees would be prepared to pay that without a grouse.

The boat had sunk and was lying into the bank side right out of the way of traffic. Times had changed, Mr Hill declared. Time was when anyone going to Cadeby or Sprotborough had to cross the ferry, but now they went by bus, and he did not see why the Home Coal Carting Committee should be called upon to provide a conveyance for courting couples.

As chairman of the committee he wanted to watch the interests of the men at Denaby and Cadeby Collieries, 90% of the public of the township, and the Committee did not feel – unless it was proved right up to the hilt – that they were compelled to convey passengers over the ferry. If it was proved they would have no option but to ask the High Court to impose a statutory fee that would remunerate them properly for their costs. “The depreciation on the boat has been £10 a year. The last 10 years we have taken £8 11s in, and if it had not been for the courting couples it would have been the odd 11 shillings.” Declared Cllr Hill. “Poor old `Tashy´ has gone down, and he will have to stop down until the High Court makes us pull it up.”

Cllr J.Humphries said that as a trustee of the Carting Committee he could endorse all that Cllr Hill said.

Cllr J.I.Webster mentioned that he had also been asked to seek informationwhy the ferry hadbeen discontinued, and Cllr Kelsall said he would like to thank Cllr Hill for his explanation. There was no doubt that the Carting Committee had a case.

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