- A feature from the September 2017 issue of Suffolk Norfolk Life magazine
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By Lin Bensley
The last vehicular chain ferry in the east of England still operates between the reed-fringed banks of the river Yare; midway between the tidal reaches of Breydon estuary and the tranquil backwaters of Rockland Broad, it is a reassuring symbol of a bygone age; a tonic for those tired of life in the fast lane.
Close by stands a welcoming public house that dates back to the early 1600s. Though once briefly known as the Bottle And Glass, it has for the most part has been called the Ferry Inn and always done exactly what it says on the signboard, with the licensee undertaking to work the ferry and convey vehicles and passengers across the river.
There were once two further horse ferries upriver from Reedham; one sited at Surlingham which ceased operation during the last war, and another at Buckenham that was broken up for scrap in 1938 after an accident involving a fully-loaded sugar beet lorry that went over the side when the driver forgot to apply the handbrake. An even more tragic accident occurred one evening at Buckenham in 1924 when a farmer, named Edward Elijah Trett, decided to take his wife, two daughters and a family friend for an excursion in his new car. Returning home he decided to use the ferry, but upon arrival, Mrs Trett, feeling anxious, decided to get out of the car as did their friend.
It is unclear as to exactly what happened next, but Mr Trett, being unfamiliar with the car, may have depressed the accelerator instead of the clutch causing him to overshoot the pontoon and crash through the barrier chains before plunging straight into the river.