Wales

007-like ferry takes to water at Ferryside and Llansteffan

Ferry boat makes its way down the quay using its wheels
Image caption Wheels in motion... the ferry boat was put through land and sea trials in Pembrokeshire

It may look like something 007 should use to take to the water in a Bond film - all be it at a much smaller budget and without the flashy gadgets.

But this amphibious boat is set to ferry people across the waters in Carmarthenshire.

Passengers will be able to climb aboard on the beach before the vessel uses its motorised wheels to launch itself into the Tywi estuary.

The last ferry between Ferryside and Llansteffan ceased in the 1950s.

In the old days it used a sail to cross but the new service has twin engines like a speed boat and wheels travelling at 4mph on dry land.

The crossing dates back 1,000 years and it was popular with 19th and early 20th Century tourists from the south Wales valleys during "miners' fortnight".

Image copyright People's Collection Wales
Image caption The Tywi estuary crossing c. 1905

Back then, travellers used a wooden jetty to negotiate the sands on the Llansteffan side.

Plans to revive the ferry crossing began about two years ago and a £300,0000 Coastal Communities grant started the wheels in the motion last August.

A firm in Solva, Pembrokeshire, was commissioned to build the boat with the designs already used to make about 1,200 around the world over the last 13 years.

Rob Bamforth, from Carmarthen Bay Ferries which runs the new service, said it was not viable to rebuild the jetty as it would have needed to be 300ft (91m) long so finding the right boat design was key.

Image copyright Rob Bamford
Image caption All aboard...the new service was due to start at about 16:00 on Friday

Llansteffan councillor Carys Jones has a collection of old picture postcards showing how the ferry service was busy with tourists in the summer months many years ago.

They show people walking along the former wooden jetty, pulling along personal possessions in trunks, as many were bound for guesthouses at Llansteffan.

Holidaymakers would take the train to Ferryside and then cross to Llansetffan for their holiday stay.

Today, the new ferry service will operate about every 15 minutes to create a "leisurely service" travelling less than a mile over the estuary.

The journey between the two villages by car covers 16 miles.

Image copyright Carys Jones
Image caption Old picture postcard shows travellers on the former jetty more than 100 years ago

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