Village News

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Jack Couch - Hayle Ferryman

"The river was a source of

"The river was a source of fascination for us children and we were constantly warned of the dangers of swimming or playing in the water for fear of being swept out to sea when the sluices were opened. This operation took place on the ebb tide and cleared the river of sand to allow ships to enter Hayle harbour. As far as my mother was concerned the other danger was Jack Couch the ferryman. His 'colourful language' was something we were not supposed to hear and we were told to keep away from him and the ferry boats. Of course these boats were a constant source of interest and we loved to play in and around the with the result that we were at times subjected to the 'colourful language' much to our mother's distress.

On the rare occasions that my father had leave he would sometimes hire a rowing boat and take me for a ride which used to be the highlight of my holiday. Very rarely the ferryman would give us a ride if he had to collect one or so passengers from the Hayle side He had two dogs named rusty and skipper and at times they would swim across the river at full tide. They were true 'sea dogs' just like their master.

One morning our nanny took us down to the ferry to play on the beach and whilst there the air raid warning sounded and all at once, there above us, a British fighter was chasing a German plane right above our heads. After above five minutes or so mother came running down the path to the ferry holding a tin tea tray above her head! We were all rushed back to the safety of the cottage to hide under the stairs till the all clear sounded".

"At high tide the river was always of interest with ships coming and going almost every day. The ferryman used to operate a semaphore signal to ships in the bay when it was safe to enter the river. Navigation over the bar was difficult and ships always took on a pilot from St Ives for the trip unto Hayle harbour"


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