A water ferry will operate in Plymouth’s Sutton Harbour this summer to link the historic Barbican Quarter with the Fishing Quarter whilst the pedestrian footbridge is closed for essential repairs.
The service will run daily between West Pier (opposite the Real Food Kitchen, by the Mayflower Steps) and Shepherd’s Wharf (in front of Lockyers Quay pub) from an expected start date of July 1st to help people cross the harbour and visit the National Marine Aquarium and Rockfish restaurant.
Sutton Harbour Holdings plc is funding the installation of necessary infrastructure to create landing stages on either side of the harbour for passengers to board from, and will also subsidise the operational costs of the Sutton Harbour ferry service for a 10 week period through the peak summer months, starting from July 1st if work completes on schedule.
The service has been organised in collaboration with Plymouth City Council and key tenant businesses as an interim measure to help people make their way across the harbour whilst the footbridge over Sutton Lock is closed for the coming months. Following thorough testing on site this spring, engineers from the Environment Agency recently confirmed that the bridge turntable had failed and will need to be replaced, along with a series of other necessary repairs which it is hoped will provide greater longevity to the bridge’s operation in the future.
Repairs are expected to take a number of months and interim measures such as a ferry service, bus shuttle service and using the Land Train have been discussed by the city council, Sutton Harbour Holdings and tenant businesses as potential options for the summer months.
The Sutton Harbour ferry service will be the first service to launch, offering an alternative, quick way to cross Sutton Harbour, in addition to the walking route along the footpath circling the harbour.
The water ferry will be operated by local firm Silverline Cruises, which recently lost its contract to operate the Royal William Yard ferry after that service was unexpectedly suspended this month.
Pete Bromley, Harbour Master of Sutton Harbour, said: “Following regular meetings with the city council and some of our key tenants, including the National Marine Aquarium and Rockfish, we are delighted to announce the launch of a water ferry service in Sutton Harbour, which we hope will start from July 1st if work completes on schedule, to help people make their way across the harbour whilst the footbridge is out of action over the coming months.
“We understand and appreciate that the bridge closure is inconvenient for visitors to Plymouth’s waterfront, as well as an issue for some of our prime businesses like the NMA and Rockfish, so we are investing in enabling and supporting the ferry service to help bring people from the Barbican Quarter to the Fishing Quarter to visit these venues more easily.
“The ferry will also offer a quick way for anyone parking in the long-stay Harbour Car Park in Lockyers Quay to cross over to the Barbican and city centre, and an alternative to the walking route around the Harbour Heritage Trail.”
Work is already underway to build and install the new brow and landing stages on both sides of the harbour to facilitate the ferry service, and this is expected to take 2-3 weeks. Installation costs and associated operational costs for the ferry service are being heavily subsided by Sutton Harbour Holdings plc.
There will be a small charge for the ferry service of £1 per person each way or £1.50 return, and children under 5 will travel for free.
The ferry will be available from 9:30am – 7pm, Monday to Sunday, from an expected start date of July 1st until further notice.
The Sutton Lock pedestrian footbridge remains closed to the public whilst further testing is undertaken by Environment Agency engineers to rule out all other potential causes for the bridge fault, ahead of repairs starting to replace the bridge turntable assembly.
The bridge was fitted more than 20 years ago as part of Sutton Harbour lock gates, whose main function is to manage any flood risk. The lock gates remain operational for all marine traffic, such as fishing boats.
An alternative walking route around the harbour is accessible via the Harbour Heritage Trail with a footpath circling around East Quay and North Quay (see map below).