Brian Moseley, Plymouth
Webpage created: March 17, 2016
Webpage updated: September 06, 2018

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The pedestrian ferry service from North Corner in Devonport to Saltash was started in 1852 by the Tamer (sic) Steam Packet Company.

Then just two years later, Mr William Gilbert, a licensed victualler at Saltash, formed the Saltash and Devonport Steam Boat Company and put a steamer called the "Victoria" on the service in competition.  Two years later again, in 1856, yet another competitor emerged, the Saltash Watermans Steam Packet Company, whose boats ran eight trips a day between 8am and 7.30pm.  However, they did not last long and had ceased by March 1859.

During the 1860s the "Victoria" was used exclusively on the ferry service but she was withdrawn and scrapped in 1877 and replaced with the "Fairy", which had been previously owned and operated by the Saltash and Saint German's Steamboat Company.  The service was at that time advertised as leaving Saltash at 6.10am and North Corner at 7am, followed by an hourly service from Saltash between 8am and 6pm.  Boats left North Corner on the half-hour, although the last boat of the day was at 6.20pm.  The fare was 3d single except for fish dealers, who paid 2d each way.  A Weekly Ticket cost 1s 6d while artificers and labourers could travel for a week for just one shilling.  On Sundays boats left Saltash at 10am, 1.30pm, 2.30pm, 3.30pm, 5pm, 7pm, and 8.30pm and North Corner at 11.30am, 2pm, 3pm, 4pm, 6pm, 7.20pm and 9pm.  The Ferry connected at Saltash with another service that ran to Cargreen and Hole's Hole four times a day, three on Sundays.

A new "Victoria" arrived on the river Tamar in 1878 and put on the ferry service.  She was described as a passenger tug.  In 1882 she was joined, or supplanted, by the "Albert", which was used until 1885, in which year the service was extended up to Millbrook to compete with Mr John Parson's Millbrook Ferry.  The "Albert" returned to the service at a later date.

On Wednesday November 14th 1883 new landing stages were officially opened at Pottery Quay and North Corner.

On January 19th 1892 Mr William Gilbert joined with his rival Mr John Parson of Millbrook to form the Saltash, Three Towns and District Steamboat Company and they took over the running of the North Corner to Saltash ferry.

From 1903 onwards the steamers had severe competition, first from the Devonport and District Tramways Company's electric trams, which thanks to the new embankment at Camel's Head, could now run right through from Morice Square, Devonport, to Saltash Passage.  The in 1904 the Great Western Railway Company started its railmotor service between Plymouth Millbay Station and Saltash, which was even more convenient and comfortable for travellers from Plymouth.

Early in 1910 Mr W H Gilbert, presumably the eldest son, sold out his shares in the Company and from April 27th 1910 it amalgamated with the Plymouth Promenade Pier Company.  In true Edwardian style this resulted in the new business having the snappy title of [take deep breath] The Plymouth Piers, Pavilion, and Saltash, Three Towns Steamship Company Ltd.  As a result, the boat now had access to the Promenade Pier and the service from Saltash was extended to there.  A single journey from Devonport to Saltash cost 2d at that time and the return fare was double.

By this time two steamers, the "Prince" and the "Albert", were operating the service.  In 1923 "Prince" was withdrawn and scrapped.  "Albert" was withdrawn at the end of the summer season in 1927, which thus brought the ferry service to an end as no replacement was put on.  "Albert" was scrapped during the winter.