THE ancient tradition of crossing the River Arun at Littlehampton by ferry boat will be revived this weekend.
Ten years after the last ferry plied its trade between the east and west banks, a regular, daily service will be restarted on Saturday (March 31).
It was officially launched on Friday, when deputy town mayor Emma Neno named the new vessel, The Littlehampton Ferry, and toasted it with a glass of bubbly.
Afterwards, the guests were treated to lunch at the West Beach Cafe, one of the attractions on the west bank, including the fort, golf course, beach, dunes and nature reserve, which are expected to tempt residents and visitors to use the ferry.
On Saturday, to celebrate the reintroduction of the ferry, a free return trip per person will be offered for the day, and there will be live entertainment, including a balloon modeller.
The service has been made possible by the efforts of Littlehampton Town Council, which has been working for years to bring it back and has now achieved that goal with a partnership also involving Littlehampton Harbour Board, Littlehampton Yacht Club, the East Beach and West Beach cafés and ActionBoat Limited.
The boat itself, imported from Florida, is a Suntracker, and carries 12 passengers as it glides across the river.
It was purchased by a consortium led by businessman Robert Boyce, who is also vice-chairman of the harbour board, and is leased to the town council, with ActionBoat licensed to operate the service.
ActionBoat’s Nick Tree said: “It’s brilliant. The first time I saw it I thought, wow, it’s different.
“It’s very stable, very comfortable and easy to step on and off.”
Subject to tides and weather conditions, the service will operate from 10am to 5pm, seven days a week, with a fare of £1 each way.
Harbour trips lasting about half an hour, and including a commentary on the history of the area, will be offered for £5.
Tickets will be available at ActionBoat’s ticket office at the Harbour Office on the riverside walkway, and the ferry departs from the nearby pontoon.