Dog and duck clements ferry
A dog and duck clements ferry, also known as a dog and duck, is a boat type used to ferry passengers across the Severn estuary, linking Shrewsbury and Newport. The journey takes 25 minutes and is one of Shropshire's oldest surviving river crossings.
The crossing is an unusual combination of two boat types, the clement and the dog. The clement is the original boat used in the 17th century, and is built in a similar way to the boat that was used to cross the River Severn during the time of William Shakespeare. The dog is a steam ferry that replaced the clement in the early 20th century, and was also built in the same way as the clement.
The first crossing of the Severn was in the 17th century when a dog and clement ferry ran between Shrewsbury and Newport, as the Severn estuary was still navigable. The Severn was navigable up to Newport, and then a further further upstream to the town of Ludlow.
A number of boatyards were used to build these boats. At first a man called William Smith (or Simms) was the only boat builder, working out of his home. Over time other boat builders were also working from the same site, with a couple of boat builders working in the same family. Boat builders such as John Smith, William Smith, John Edwards and William Simpson all worked from the same premises.
The clement boats were very much similar to those built for the River Thames, although the design was different. These boats were designed to allow the boats to be pulled over the water and around curves, with ropes on the outside of the hull. The boat was made out of wood and was usually constructed from the main trunk of a tree. The length of the boats varied, with some being, and some being over.
It is not certain exactly when the first clement ferry started running. However, there is a letter that refers to the Shrewsbury to Newport crossing being in the ownership of the Witty family, and the ferry started in the early 17th century. It is known that in the year 1622 the ferry ran between the two towns from 6am to 8pm, and a total of £40 per year was paid to the boat builders for their work.
In 1708, a new boatbuilder was hired. This was a man called Edward Edwards, who had been a boatbuilder on the Severn previously. It was known that Edwards had a large boat yard and was a man who was willing to pay for good service and a high quality boat. It is possible that this was the first time that a clement boat had been built for the Severn. Edwards was also a member of the Society of Friends, and his craftsmanship would be used to build Quaker boats in the early 20th century.
Edwards was very much the first boatbuilder for the crossing, and had worked as a boatbuilder for over 20 years, before the new boat was even built. The boat was built on the Severn, a long time before it was built on the Thames.
Once Edwards had built the boat, he was approached by a man named Robert Witty, who owned a boat that he wanted to use on the crossing. Witty was an influential man who had been offered the position of Bishop of Llandaff, but had decided to remain a layman. It is not known exactly what happened when Edwards approached Witty, but it is thought that Witty had an interest in the crossing and was able to persuade Edwards to let him hire the boat.
Witty started the crossing, using Edwards' boat, and the crossing was in the ownership of the Witty family for some time. In the year 1712, Witty started the crossing by charging £1 to cross the river. At first the boat had a capacity of 25 people, and a passenger had to pay a shilling to get on the boat. In 1720, the fare was raised to 6d, and in 1738 the charge went up to 10d. A clement crossing was a rare thing in 17th century Shrewsbury, and it is not clear why it was so expensive. One theory is that it may have been because it was the only crossing on the river and there was a demand for it. Another theory is that there was another boat that was crossing the river, and this boat was cheaper, but Witty had the best boat. Another theory is that there was a competition between the two boatbuilders and that Witty was the cheaper boat builder.
Robert Witty ran the crossing until he died in 1765. At this point the crossing passed to his son Robert Witty, who ran the crossing until his death in 1801. Robert Witty was not a wealthy man and was known to be very parsimonious. Witty's widow, Elizabeth, became involved in the running of the crossing and managed to keep the ferry going until 1802.
In the year 1802, Elizabeth Witty died and left the crossing to her son, William. William had no interest in running the ferry and so the crossing was taken over by the Shrewsbury Bridge Commission in 1803.
A new boat called a dog, or dog and cart, was built in 1904. This boat replaced the 17th century clement boats and was constructed in the same way. The boats were named after their builders, and the boat that replaced the 17th century clement was named "Smith's Dog". This boat was in service until the mid-20th century, when a new boat called the "Edwards' Dog" was in service, and this was the last of the clements.
When the dog was built, it had a capacity of 50 passengers. The price to cross the river was also raised to 2/6d for a horse and cart, and a passenger was charged 1/2d. The dog was not as well built as the clement boat, and so was not able to navigate around the same curves. This meant that the crossing was slower than the clements and