Sunday, September 11, 2011

The history of the Cookham Ferry.

Ferry Lane Cookham.

Many centuries ago, as far back to when the Romans first came to Britain there was a settlement here in Cookham and here was a good place to ford the Thames, this being one of the shallower parts at that time. Though back in the 1800’s there was a discovery of a Roman bridge near Hedsor wharf. Which no doubt fell into disrepair when the Romans left in or around 410 AD.

Of course The Danes and The Vikings did sail up the Thames with some difficulty, having to navigate around sand bars and the like. What really changed the Thames for barge and commercial trade was the introduction of a system of weirs and locks. Even then there was still places where tricky navigating had to be applied around the area of Hedsor Wharf, where many a barge got stuck on a gravel-sand bar. This problem existed until the present Cookham Lock cut was built and put into service. Then that ended the sailing barge trade and the towpath system with horses came into use. Only to fade out in the 1850-60’s when Isambard Kingdom Brunel built the Great Western Railway causing the commercial barge traffic to die completely.

Of course all this construction of the locks and weirs had caused the water level at the once Cookham ford was no longer available. So a ferry system was built to allow commercial and private traffic to cross from the Berkshire side to the Buckingham side of the river and the chain ferry came into being.

The photo above is that of Ferry Lane, the once well-travelled highway for anyone wanting to cross the river. This part of Cookham has not changed in the past 70 years.

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