Ilfracombe ferry service to Wales starts this spring
THE eagerly anticipated ferry service from Ilfracombe to Swansea will start this spring, it has been announced today. The news of the new Severn Link fast catamaran passenger service is a huge boost not only to the town but the whole of North Devon and me
THE eagerly anticipated ferry service from Ilfracombe to Swansea will start this spring, it has been announced today.
The news of the new Severn Link fast catamaran passenger service is a huge boost not only to the town but the whole of North Devon and means South Wales will be just 50 minutes away.
It is the culmination of years of hard work on both sides of the Bristol Channel and is expected to not only bring numbers of tourists flocking to South West shores, but also be of great benefit to local people and business.
The multi million pound scheme, whose funding has been provided by a variety of investors, is the brain child of ferry expert Chris Marrow, who has steered it from conception to the point where FastCat ferries are within mere months of docking at Ilfracombe Pier.
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It will be the first modern ferry service to link the two sides of the Bristol Channel and the average fare has been estimated at around �22 per trip.
Severn Link is in the process of purchasing two 130 foot fast catamarans from Wight Link Ferries, which are capable of travelling at a blistering 34 knots and can each carry 360 passengers.
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Chris Marrow is a highly respected marine professional and pioneer - one of the few people in the UK with a proven track record in creating new ferry routes, all of which are in operation today.
He has brought together a team of the highest possible calibre who share the Severn Link vision - including one of Britain's top marine engineers, a world renowned fast ferry specialist and internationally respected financial expertise.
"To my knowledge, there is no other comparable stretch of water in the world, linking similarly populated areas, which doesn't have a heavily utilised ferry service - and market research has shown that there is a huge demand for this ferry route within South West England," he said.
"The Severn Link ferries will open up multiple opportunities - not just for ease of travel into the South West, therefore bringing a considerable increase in tourism and economic benefits - but to also bring the business, cultural, sporting and retail aspects of South Wales into easy reach of those living in our region."
In its heyday the channel was a Mecca for ferries, pleasure craft and paddle steamers, plying its length and breadth and bring streams of visitors to the ports on its shores.
Severn Link is planning more routes to a series of major destinations on both sides of the channel, with more exciting and affordable routes between South Wales and the northern South West coastline currently in development and due to be announced next year.
Ilfracombe councillor Geoff Fowler has been working with Chris Marrow since the beginning to make the ferry vision a reality.
"The community has been very patients in hoping that this will come off and by next spring we should be up and running," he said.
"The feeling I get from people is that they are looking forward to it very much. There's certainly support for it across the South West and from the other side of the channel, both from the communities and the local authorities involved.
"Hopefully this will caret jobs and also encourage the private sector to look more closely at us regarding investment. It's very much a catalyst for regeneration."
The Mayor of Ilfracombe, Councillor Philip Webb called the new service "a very significant event in the town's history and probably the biggest thing that has happened here for many a decade."
"The key fact is, in Swansea there's 230,000 people, whereas we have 11,000, so it gives us the opportunity to bring in lots of visitors to the town, who will hopefully spend money and make our businesses more successful, improving employment prospects for local people," he added.
"It also gives people here the opportunity to go over to South Wales on an easy form of transport rather than spend three-and-a-half hours driving. A lot of people here have friends and relations in Wales."
But he urged people in the town to look carefully at their businesses and consider whether they could do anything to improve them or invest a little, to give visitors what they want and create the best possible first impression.