The Sandy Haven Ferry

Up until the mid 1980s and to a lesser extent today, cliff path walkers heading east for a night at Herbrandston or Milford Haven would appear around high tide in the gardens of The Anchorage asking for the ferry. They were unable to cross the Sandy Haven creek at high tide where there can be 18 feet of water and a strong tide. This was because the old one inch topographic maps (used by the walkers) showed the word “ferry” printed where the footbridge now stands. There was a ferry there in the days before asphalt roads and motor cars. This ferry was important to the local populations of Sandy Haven and Herbrandston and was used on Sundays when the tide was in to get from Herbrandston to the old Baptist chapel opposite the entrance gate to The Anchorage. However with the development of better roads the Baptist chapel was abandoned in 1877 for a new one accessible by road between Sandy Haven and Herbrandston (still in use). Somewhere along the line the ferry was abandoned, but today a modern house across the creek from the Anchorage preserves the name Ferry Cottage. Unfortunately the name remained on maps for a very long time, and many times the owner has driven tired path walkers to their nights lodgings in Herbrandston village. The latest maps today now omit the word “ferry” but replace it with “stepping stones”. The stepping stones are World War II concrete road blocks. Until recently the foot bridge was a long plate of ships steel. This plate was presented to the community of Sandy Haven by Mrs Ward whose husband operated Ward’s Shipbreaking Yard on the eastern foreshore of Milford Haven. The stone warf and jetty alongside of which numerous ships were broken up and the metal taken away by train, is still visible from The Rath in Milford Haven. The metal plate was obtained for the side of a ship broken up in the yard. The present wooden footbridge with chicken wire mesh to stop slipping replaced the metal sheet footbridge recently by the National Park.

– John Roobol

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