‘Purbeck trade hit by ferry closure and one-way system’

August 12, 2019


GRID LOCK: This picture, taken by my backseat passenger, shows the traffic going at snail’s pace between Corfe Castle and Wareham on the B3151 part of the one-way traffic system created by the closure of the chain ferry. We were in the middle of an hour’s journey between Corfe Castle and Sandford. It was more like being in London at rush hour then a gentle amble through the countryside.

SHIP WRECKED: The Bramble Bush Bay ferry will be out of action until October due to the need for a special part called a shaft and drive wheel that snapped and has to be manufactured in Sweden, and then shipped to Southampton, where it is being currently serviced.



ROADWORKS and broken ferries are blighting familiar routes and prominent landmarks across Dorset at the height of the tourist season.

And concurrently with these inconveniences going on, the Botany Bay chain ferry that operates between Studland and Sandbanks is out of action until October and this is hitting the pockets of local businesses in Purbeck.

‘Ferry waiting on special shaft from Sweden’

According to a statement given to the Bournemouth Echo which was used and published on 31 July, the ferry was currently being serviced in Southampton and it transpired that the cause of the chain ferry malfunctioning was a fractured shaft and drive wheel.

As the part has to be specially manufactured in Sweden, a resumption in service cannot be considered until this part is ready.

Part of the statement read: “We are working very closely with the MCA (Marine & Coastguard Agency) and Lloyds Register of Shipping (our Class Surveyors for Insurers) to ensure all repairs are conducted to Class standards and specification.”

‘Parish council calls for shuttle service’

A representative at Studland Parish Council suggested that the ferry company considers providing an alternative shuttle service to get people across the harbour entrance and back. I recall one staff member who works at one of the cafes at Studland relied on the chain ferry to get to and from work.

Business owners and other members of the public suggested that the ferry’s operating licence be put out to tender given to the regular delays that have been effecting the service.

‘Here we go round the Mulberry Bush’

Up the road in Corfe Castle, a one-way system is operating around the Peninsula with traffic heading from Poole and Wareham direction via a detour of the B3351 via Ulwell Road, which heads towards Swanage and the traffic coming back to Wareham heads out of Swanage through the A351.

Two friends and myself wanted to get to the Scotts Arms in Kingston for another friend’s birthday meal with his wife and friends. This one way system enabled us to get there reasonably well but the return journey was a bit of a nightmare.

‘Five miles took an hour’

We got caught up with all the traffic returning to Wareham, Poole and elsewhere when we linked up with the A351 and it was nose to tail from the top of Corfe Castle till the Morden turn off at Sandford. It took at least one hour and a quarter to navigate this short stretch of road. When traffic is queuing, it normally only takes 15 or 20 minutes.

‘One-way system is harming our business’

Whilst the Bournemouth Echo concentrated on businesses at Studland, the economic chill factor is impacting businesses that operate off the B3151 between Corfe Castle and Sandford.

I am a regular customer to one of the farm shops in this area and when I asked one of their staff how the ferry closure and the one-way traffic system was effecting them, she replied: “Fewer people are visiting us as no one wants to get in their cars and get caught up in those queues.”

‘Open up the railway line to Swanage’

In a comment posted by someone with a pseudonym called Jolliffe on the chaos effecting Corfe Castle via the one-way system via The Echo’s website, this was suggested: “There is a railway running from Wareham to Swanage.

“Under the present circumstances why can’t it be used for its original purpose. That is what the Swanage Railway Project volunteers of the 1970s envisaged.”

‘Visitor spend down on 2017?’

According to a 2017 report by Visit Dorset that maps each region for how much tourists spend in the county, the total visitor related spend for the Purbeck district was £225.6M, so it will be worth councillors addressing the concerns of the businesses as soon as possible, as it is likely the figure for 2019 surely will be less than two years ago.

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Martin Hickmott August 22, 2019 at 8:50 pm

I doubt the ferry has many off the shelf parts as most are specific to the job they are designed for, you can’t exactly go borrowing bits of the East Cowes chain ferry lol. (That has its own issues.)
Tender out to who?
Any decent engineering firm won’t drop everything for this, it has to wait in line like every thing else.


MT Mai August 27, 2019 at 6:25 pm

This entire saga is a joke and should never have got to this point, ever. Boot the contractor and tender another who’s willing to provide the service. It’s 2019 people and the behaviour has been shocking considering. What a joke. I pity all those who suffer as a result. The whole country’s going that way and it’s starting to affect us down here too now.


Paul Smith August 27, 2019 at 6:26 pm

Things do break from time to time, it isn’t planned to happen it just does, like the twin sails bridge, or a car, train or anything else for that matter
That’s life


Mark Beard August 27, 2019 at 6:27 pm

That’s life? Not when it’s a vital piece of community infrastructure. The owners use this ferry as a cash cow to prop up its other businesses, and this situation is unacceptable. If they can’t fix it, put it out to tender to someone who can.


Craig Wood August 27, 2019 at 6:28 pm

The owners invested millions on their hotel chain. Is it just a coincidence, that when the company asked to raise ferry prices , they were stopped by the government.
So now they are deliberately taking their time to prove a point. Just my opinion.


Eddie Shepherd August 27, 2019 at 6:30 pm

They can build a bridge to join Denmark to Sweden.
They need to do a loop out far enough to be high enough to allow all shipping to pass unde it
We built the Channel tunnel so if the Will was there to do it we could.


Duncan Reddell August 27, 2019 at 6:31 pm

Who would pay?


Eddie Shepherd August 27, 2019 at 6:32 pm

Make it a toll road
You have to pay for the Chain ferry
Taking the cost of the alternative road route it may be s saving against increasing fuel cost
That’s how the Seven bridge was funded
It would be in constant use against the failure in recent time of the existing chain ferry


George Nicholson August 27, 2019 at 6:34 pm

I use this road regularly and as a professional driver cannot see the need for these lights


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