ABANDONED THE SEVERN PRINCESS PASSENGER FERRY #REALURBEX #CHEPSTOW





The last remaining ferry boat, the Severn Princess which was launched in 1959, was found wrecked, abandoned and full of fertiliser in Ireland in 1999 by Dr. Richard Jones, the grandson of Enoch Williams. As Galway County Council had put a demolition order on the vessel, a small group of Chepstow residents formed the Severn Princess Restoration Group with an urgent remit to save the Severn Princess and return her to the town. The derelict vessel was purchased for a token 1 guinea and temporary repair work started to get the vessel to a state where it could be towed back to South Wales.
The Severn Princess returned to Beachley in 2003 following a five-day tow. For some years the vessel rested alongside the Beachley slipway, but was eventually moved to the west bank of the River Wye in Chepstow, to sit beneath the railway bridge. After some years of delay, during which the condition of the vessel deteriorated further, restoration finally started in 2014.
The first stage of the restoration was made possible with the pledge and realisation of support from Chepstow-based steel bridging and infrastructure manufacturer Mabey Bridge Ltd which, as part of its Bridging Time community support programme, donated time, equipment and paint to enable the stabilisation of the vessel and arrest further deterioration. Mabey Bridge apprentices along with other employees of the company removed the turntable, winch and wheel capstan from the ferry and relocated them to the Mabey Bridge manufacturing facility for refurbishment. The majority of spray guards were similarly removed and relocated. However, some have been left as a template for future rebuilding. Holes were also drilled in the lower hull to drain the ferry of rainwater and Mabey Bridge staff secured the cabins. The winch chain hull tears were sent to be plated. This first phase of restoration was completed Thursday 11 September 2014 and commemorated with a handover ceremony attended by the Mayor of Chepstow Cllr Ned Heywood, members of the Severn Princess Restoration Group, and management and apprentices from Mabey Bridge Ltd.
The long term aim of the Severn Princess Restoration Group is to return the vessel to a state where it can sit as a permanent heritage display at the site. The Group has begun the process of clearing the area under the Brunel (tubular) railway bridge to make the site more attractive to visitors and users of the Wales Coast Path, which runs through Chepstow.

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ABANDONED THE SEVERN PRINCESS PASSENGER FERRY #REALURBEX #CHEPSTOW

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