THE OLD FERRY INN
There has been a ferry crossing between Fowey and Bodinnick since at least 14th century and it was an important one as it was on the main southerly route through Cornwall. It is quite likely that there was an inn in Bodinnick from then to give shelter to travellers. The existing Old Ferry Inn dates back to the 17th century as do many of the old fisherman and shipbuilders cottages. The ferry and the Ferry Inn were often under the same management. In the 19th century the Ferry Inn was run for many years by Mrs Jane Hayes.
Ferryside, the large building on the water’s edge beside the ferry, was originally a shipyard. The first shipbuilder noted there was John Marks who ran the shipyard from 1826 to 1846 and built the 60-ton sloop Abeona. The shipyard was later taken over by Nicholas and Joseph Butson and it is here that they built Rippling Wave, a 130-ton schooner and the first ship to carry china clay from the Carn point docks to Genoa in 1869. With the decline in wooden shipbuilding the property was sold and became a private house. It was initially named Swiss Cottage and it was this that was seen by the du Maurier family in the 1920s when they were looking for a holiday home. It was here in the room above the figurehead that Daphne wrote her first novel The Loving Spirit. The figurehead is from the Polruan built ship Jane Slade which was the inspiration for the novel.
During the late 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, Bodinnick and the nearby villages of Polruan and Fowey were home to wealthy shipping merchants and master mariners.
They were most likely involved in the trading and transportation of China clay from the River Fowey, sailing their schooners up and down the estuary.
However, today these schooners have been replaced with modern sea going cargo vessels.
Research by Alison Fogg
Sources: Helen Doe A Fair and Commodious Haven: The History of the Harbour of Fowey. (Truro: Truran, 2010); Helen Doe , Jane Slade of Polruan (Truro: Truran, 2002); John Keast, The Story of Fowey,( Dyllansow Truran, 1987); C. H. Ward-Jackson, Ships and Shipbuilders of a Westcountry Seaport: Fowey 1786-1939 (Truro: Twelveheads Press, 1986); Lindy Woodhead, War paint: Madame Helena Rubinstein and Miss Elizabeth Arden: their lives, their times, their rivalry (John Wiley and Sons, 2003)