Saturday, 3 May 2008



The Wargrave Penny-Ferry.
From as young as four or five years old, my Mum would take us over the river on the ‘Penny Ferry’ to go splashing about in the river on the hot summer days.

We’d all pack our trunks and costumes with just the one towel between the lot of us, along with some old lemonade bottles filled with water. (Our picnic). Then we’d head off down to the front of The St George and Dragon hotel where we’d catch the ‘Penny Ferry’ to the other side of the river Thames where the water was clear and shallow. Where we could be with a whole load of other Mum’s and their kids having a whale of a time in relative safety.

I can still remember the river being a very light green. You could see the sand ripples caused by the passing boats creating a sort of artificial tide. Half buried in that soft, rippling sand were hundreds of 'freshwater mussels’. They were very common then, but you hardly ever see them now.
(Occasionally I’ve seen the odd one while walking along the Prom’ at Henley-On-Thames recently.)

One other memory of those days (especially the first one) that is still VERY vivid in my mind was the shock I got when I found out that the swimming trunks my Mum had ‘knitted’ me especially so that I could go in for a splash, would slip unceremoniously to my feet when they got wet. Undeterred I would still splash about for hours with one hand holding on to my trunks as if my life depended on it.

Mum’s Eh? The things they’ll do to make their kids happy.

The ‘Penny Ferry’ operated by the boat builders who had their yard adjacent to the St George and Dragon, Val Wyatts, is no longer there. Swancraft took it on after Val Wyatts sold up to them, but the owners of the Hotel in cahoots with the farm owner over the other side of the Thames, were determined to ‘spoil’ the spirit that WAS wargrave.

The land that the Ferry used to moor at was owned by the hotel, and when the big conglomerate (which I shan’t name) took over the George & Dragon, it decided to maintain it’s philosophy of ‘Greed is best’, and excluded all of the ‘locals’ who had used the land, along with the mooring green at the front. They took away the swing, flower beds etc, leaving it a baron wasteland, only good for mooring boats, (But only if you were a paying customer of course).

Even the car park had some twerp permanently ‘on guard’ there incase any of the ‘lower-life’ locals showed up and only wanted a pint. “Parking is for ‘eating’ customers only Sir”.

Wargrave holds many beautiful memories for me. The St George and Dragon was one. Sadly, it now plays a large part in the ‘demise’ of the ‘spirit’ of Wargrave. I haven’t been there for a couple of years now. Why bother?
Though I did drive past the other day and saw that access to the river-front had been permanently blocked off.

Hopefully, someone will tell me one day that some other enterprise has taken over the hotel, and the spirit has been restored. (I won’t hold my breath though). But I will forever have the memories of some great times had at what was the prettiest and friendliest little riverside pub/hotel to be found anywhere.

Catch you later,


PS. Check out some old Wargrave 'past' photo's here;

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