The horse boat continued after the introduction of steam. A letter exists from Messrs Waterman Brothers of Cremyll Yard with the specification and quotation new horse boat for the Earl of Mount Edgcumbe. The measurements were 36' x 10' 2" x 3' 9”. The cost was to be £14 18s if the bottom of the boat was to be tarred felted and coppered. £12 15s if the bottom was to be caulked and treated with pitch and tar. This letter is dated 10th of March 1903.
Mr A Lobb of Millbrook has supplied some interesting information about the horse boat. It had a ramp for unloading and therefore the boat came in stern first. The horse boat was capable of carrying two wheeled carts and their horses or it could be used for horses alone. Later the boat was capable of bringing over a 1 ton Ford van and a Daimler car. It was not in general service: a number of people have heard tell of the Earl of Mount Edgcumbe's coach being towed in the horse boat. It was available to others, however, and Mr Lobb says that farmers in the Rame Peninsula used it for sending produce by cart to Plymouth. It often carried flour and bread on the return journey from Stonehouse.
The horse boat was towed by one of the passenger boats and at Admirals Hard it was cast loose and pulled and manoeuvred to the beach called the ‘Commissary’, just south of the Hard. At Cremyll there is a hand winch [still there] to the south of the toll office which was used to dragging the horse boat up onto the shingle. The return fare seems to have been 3s 6d though only 2s 6d when cars and vans were carried. Although the horse boat had to be booked in advance, it was much used and there was queuing as there was only an hourly crossing.
It was not unknown for the tow rope of the horse boat to break during stormy weather and (writes Mr Willcocks) serious delays were sometimes experienced in picking up the almost unmanageable horse boat. The increased use of motor haulage during the 1920s and 1930s and the greater facilities offered by the Torpoint Ferry for a quicker trip to Plymouth led to the gradual decline in the use of the horse boat. Mr S. F. Shepherd was an engineer on the ferry boats from 1937 to January 1940 during which time the horse boat was still in use. In his opinion that shortly after January 1940 the horse boat either broke away or was lost. On his return from Naval service in 1945 there was no trace of it.
13 August 2006