Torpoint is an eighteenth-century planned town. The grid-based design for the town was commissioned by Reginald Pole Carew in the Parish of Antony in 1774. His family continued to have a strong influence in the area, having become the Carew Poles, and still reside at their family seat, Antony House now in the care of the National Trust.
A ferry route between Torpoint and Plymouth Dock (now called Devonport) was created by an Act of Parliament in 1790 and the Earl of Mount Edgcumbe** began to run ferries the following year. In 1826 the ferry operations were taken over by the Torpoint Steamboat Company, which built landing piers on both sides of the Tamar. Cornwall County Council acquired the ferry in 1922 for £42,000.
The first ferries on the route designed to carry motor vehicles were introduced in 1925 and 1926 and could carry 16 cars.
2005 saw the current fleet's introduction, each vessel now having capacity for 80 cars. Two ferries operate off-peak, supplemented with the third crossing at busy times. A half hourly service is provided overnight.
The ferries each have three diesel generators, used to produce electric power for the two drive motors which each turn one of the two chainwheels. One generator can produce enough power for normal operation but a second generator might be used to provide extra power for bad weather or fast emergency crossings. The third generator is a maintenance spare.The chainwheels are early 2 metres in diameter and have pockets on their circumference which grip the chain links and pull on the chains. The crossing distance is up to 650 metres depending on tide state, and while routine crossings take about 6 minutes, the ferries can cross in 3-4 minutes in an emergency.
The crossing is jointly managed with the Tamar Road Bridge ...
We will consider further the cut-throat competition on the Torpoint run in next TUESDAY's blog.
** Earl of Mount Edgcumbe. Fanatical ferroequinologists may be aware that the Earl of Mount Edgcumbe is a preserved steam locomotive of the GWR 'Castle' Class, built in March 1936. It was originally named Barbury Castle, and was renamed in September 1937.