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Wrecked Former Severn Ferry Found in Ireland, Brought Back to Life in Wales for £1

23rd April 2022
Connemara wreck: Restoration of the final Severn Estuary car ferry, Severn Princess which plied between Beachley and Aust, both in Gloucestershire, England. The 19 car carrying ferry used to serve until the first (M48) Severn Bridge was opened in 1966. AFLOAT adds according to the The Severn Princess Preservation Trust, this is how the 'Princess' was found in Kilkieran Connemara, Ireland, with the vessel seen thrown up on to the quay wall after a massive Atlantic storm, with the former ferry wedged up and under water twice a day. For more on how the ferry returned to the UK for preservation, read below. Connemara wreck: Restoration of the final Severn Estuary car ferry, Severn Princess which plied between Beachley and Aust, both in Gloucestershire, England. The 19 car carrying ferry used to serve until the first (M48) Severn Bridge was opened in 1966. AFLOAT adds according to the The Severn Princess Preservation Trust, this is how the 'Princess' was found in Kilkieran Connemara, Ireland, with the vessel seen thrown up on to the quay wall after a massive Atlantic storm, with the former ferry wedged up and under water twice a day. For more on how the ferry returned to the UK for preservation, read below. Credit: Severn Princess-facebook

If Tim Ryan could be transported back to any time in his life it would undoubtedly be the hours he spent on the ferries crossing the Severn to England and back. He did it 11 or 12 times a year with his parents and sister - and each journey was as adventurous as the last.

“It was just like going abroad,” the 67-year-old retired headteacher told WalesOnline from a quiet corner of Wales where he is hellbent on recreating those memories for future generations. It’s been a 23-year mission which is now finally beginning to bear fruit.

“My father had a sister in Burnham-on-Sea and my mother was from Wiltshire, so we were on the ferries a lot,” he said, proudly standing aboard the Severn Princess which has found its way home in remarkable circumstances.

It now sits beneath Brunel's rail bridge just metres from where it used to be moored on the River Wye from 1959 to 1966. The Princess - alongside the Severn King and Queen - offered the only means of crossing for motorists before the construction of the M48 Severn bridge.

Now we’ve got the ferry here I’d hope the long-term plan would be to get the bridge all cleaned up and maybe a visitors centre here. There’s a long way to go.”

For Tim, now coordinator of a modest team which makes up the Severn Princess Preservation Trust, it has been a labour of love long in the making. “One of our members Richard Jones is the grandson of Enoch Williams,” Tim said. “Enoch was the owner of the Old Passage Severn Ferry Company and operated the three ferries.

For much more on the former river ferry's fascinating journey to home waters, click here. 

In addition, according to Wikipedia, the wrecked vessel was found full of fertiliser, having been discovered in 1999 by Dr. Richard Jones, as alluded above.

The derelict ferry had been put under a demolition order by Galway County Council, however the Severn Princess Restoration Group was set up urgently so to save and acquire the ferry for a guinea.

After repairs this enabled a five-day tow across the Irish Sea to Beachley that took place in 2003. 

Published in Historic Boats
Jehan Ashmore

About The Author

Jehan Ashmore

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Jehan Ashmore is a marine correspondent, researcher and photographer, specialising in Irish ports, shipping and the ferry sector serving the UK and directly to mainland Europe. Jehan also occasionally writes a column, 'Maritime' Dalkey for the (Dalkey Community Council Newsletter) in addition to contributing to UK marine periodicals. 

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