ONE of the historic Shaldon ferries is now sailing across new waters.

The 102-year-old wooden TNS 2 has been sold to a boat company on the River Dart, and given a new lease of life.

Greenway Ferry and Pleasure Cruises will use the craft to carry passengers along the river after a complete refit costing thousands of pounds.

A team of six craftsmen from the firm spent about two weeks bringing the old boat up to the rigorous standard needed to operate as a ferry.

Company director Will Ford described it as a 'fabulous traditional 1908 ferry.

'We surveyed the vessel, and it needed a lot of work. We negotiated with Teignbridge Council to use the boat house to restore the ferry, and we sailed her down to the Dart on Monday.'

She will be named Sharpham Belle and operate on services to Sharpham Vineyard, along with the other ferry the Dartmouth Belle.

'She will certainly be very useful on the Dart due to her shallow draft and her traditional walk-the-plank loading method. As well as the Sharpham run, the boat will also be able to reach creeks, including Bow Creek, Stoke Gabriel, Dittisham.

'Our company strives hard to keep memories of the past alive, operating the English Riviera's largest WW2 passenger ship, Fairmile, and our heritage bus.'

The ferry was built at the Cremel yard in Plymouth for £27.11s.3d for the Teignmouth Bridge Company.

Mr Ford said his company unsuccessfully tendered to operate the Shaldon ferry last year, and still did not know why it had been turned down.

'We had great expertise in providing year-round services of the same nature and size on the Dart between Dittisham and Greenway Quay every day of the year, except Boxing Day. We offered to take on the full costs of restoring the 1908 vessel, keeping both Shaldon ferries on their original service, and introducing new services to Teignmouth, bringing tourists directly from Torquay, Brixham and Babbacombe, and operating cruises on the Teign.'

Mr Ford added that they were still negotiating with the council and the harbour commission to run pleasure trips on the Teign.

The Shaldon ferry service is currently operated by Greg Allen, who said: 'I'm very pleased the old ferry has found a new home on the Dart. I love these historic boats, and at one stage it looked like she might be scrapped, so it is good news she has been restored.'