FOR more than three centuries it was a vital – if short – link, powered by nothing more than oars and human endeavour.
Now plans to revive the shortest ferry crossing in the UK have been unveiled 11 years after it was axed to contain foot and mouth disease.
The project would see Cramond linked up with the Dalmeny Estate by a hand-operated “chain ferry” introduced to remove the three-mile inland detour walkers and cyclists must currently take.
A study found ten per cent of the 485,000 annual visitors would use the 15-minute service across the River Almond should it be reinstated.
Cramond and Barnton Community Council has submitted plans from Covell Matthew Architects which will be considered by city planners in September.
The group has secured around £10,000 in Lottery funding and further funds from the local council-funded neighbourhood partnership for a visitor survey, but will need to raise £243,000 to build the chain ferry device. A boatsman would transport 12 passengers at a time on a flat raft, with fees for the crossing expected to be between £1 and £1.50.
Andrew Mather, chairman of the community council, said there had been significant support for the scheme from residents, Historic Scotland and the nearby boat club.
He said: “At the moment you see a lot of people arrive at the river and with no crossing tend to turn back. With such a detour we believe there will be interest, from people with bicycles in particular, who want to complete the full coastal route.
“The study we’ve done shows if we can get it off the ground it is viable. It’s just that initial set-up costs we need, although that will be difficult to secure. But we have made good progress because of the design, which is novel and will be of great interest to people.”
Until 2001 those trekking along the Waterfront could take a rowing boat operated by the Dalmeny Estate, owned by Lord Rosebery, for 50p.
However, the service was suspended to prevent the spread of foot and mouth disease to the Dalmeny Estate and, following the crisis, it emerged that the jetty was in too poor condition to reopen.
The rowing boat will be replaced by a new jetty and raft with a lift lowering passengers to water level.
Stratford-upon-Avon is believed to have the only other chain ferry – which are rafts attached to chains under the water – in the UK. Plans for a fixed bridge in 2008 were ruled out because it would prevent boats accessing the Almond.
Covell Matthews architect Iain Eason, who lives locally and came up with the chain ferry idea with civil engineer John Carson, said: “We’ve come up with the concept of a chain ferry and lift platform which will believe will fulfil its purpose, will help businesses in Cramond, and will itself be of great interest as a structure.”
12 passengers per journey
15-minute journey time
40 metres of water separating
Cramond from Dalmeny Estate
3-mile round trip walkers
and cyclists currently make
to build the chain ferry device
visit Cramond each year
48,500 estimated passengers
£1.50 cost of crossing
1662 was first mention of
the ‘coble of Cramond’