Site of ferry terminal, Aberdyfi

Site of ferry terminal, Aberdyfi

A ferry crossed the estuary from Aberdyfi for centuries. Houses and inns were built in Aberdyfi by the 17th century for ferry passengers and workers.

The opening of railways on both sides of the estuary in the 1860s gave people another affordable way to travel from one side of the estuary to the other, although by a circuitous route. However, the ferry to Ynyslas survived and was operated by the railway company – the fare being the same by boat or train.

A steamer named Elizabeth operated the ferry services until 1869, when it was moved to Belfast. The ferry temporarily stopped in 1876 as it no longer justified full-time hours for the ferryman, Captain John Bell.

Ordnance Survey maps, including the 1948 edition, show the ferry route departing from the western end of the harbour. Ferryman Ellis Williams continued to run a seasonal ferry service to Ynyslas, using his boat Sea Spray, into the 1970s, as a service for holidaymakers. He became Aberdyfi’s harbour master in 1976.

John Bell, who had sailed the world in the Royal Navy, was the ferryman for more than 30 years. He was also coxswain of Aberdyfi lifeboat for 30 years. He and his crew were treated to dinner in 1897 for their bravery in rescuing six men from a Norwegian ship during a gale.

In 1907 John and his son Edda used their ferryboat to rescue a group of six visitors, whose boat was battered by a gale while returning to Aberdyfi from Aberystwyth. After John’s death in 1909, Edda took charge of the ferry.

One of Edda’s friends was Laurence Ruck of Brynderw. Laurence was privately educated in Lancaster and served as a Lieutenant in the First World War. After Laurence’s death in France in 1915, Edda received money from Laurence’s will. Edda used the money to buy a new ferryboat, named The Hero in Laurence’s honour.

Postcode: LL35 0RA    View Location Map