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West Lynn Ferry stops due to coronavirus as operators announce retirement

Having taken over in 2000, the West Lynn Ferry operators will be making no more trips due to the coronavirus.

Gail and Steve Kingston, aged 59 and 69, are in the high risk category as the pandemic continues to disrupt the country.

Saturday was the last time the historic service crossed the River Ouse taking passengers to and from Lynn.

The West Lynn Ferry. Picture: Paul Marsh
The West Lynn Ferry. Picture: Paul Marsh

Mrs Kingston said: "It was a very difficult decision to finish. We have been very, very sad over the last couple of days.

"We would have ideally liked to carry on until the new buyers took over, hopefully in the next few months when this has passed.

"Everyone is in dreadful turmoil in the world and the ferry is just one casualty of that.

The West Lynn Ferry has been one of many victims of the coronavirus. Picture: Adam Fairbrother
The West Lynn Ferry has been one of many victims of the coronavirus. Picture: Adam Fairbrother

"The last day was Saturday then we spent Sunday night working the logistics out."

The couple said there are "plans in the pipeline" for improvements to the infrastructure under new owners.

The ferry has been up for sale since 2016, in which time there have been four interested buyers.

However, nothing has been finalised at this stage.

The Kingstons thanked their passengers "from the bottom of their hearts" for being so loyal during their 20 years of work.

Mrs Kingston also said she hopes the customers keep safe and do not become infected by the coronavirus.

She added: "The ferry is a unique form of transport, which stops cars going into town and prevents emissions."

The operators released a statement over the weekend informing people of the ferry's closure.

It stated: “In the present day crisis it will come as no surprise that this is a direct result of financial constraints forced upon us by the advancing effect of the coronavirus.

“The general increase of self-isolation and social distancing has resulted in a decline of footfall which has ultimately affected the running of the ferry.”

Mr Kingston told the Lynn News they were aware that the Government would be stepping up measures to contain the virus ahead of the latest announcements.

"We knew Mr Johnson would bring in more draconian measures, and that it would affect us," he said.

The service has been running since 1285, and offers commuters good views of the town's historic quayside.

Leader of West Norfolk Council, Brian Long said: “The operator is taking very responsible measures. I don’t see how anyone can travel on the ferry and maintain the necessary social distance for their protection and the protection of others.

"We thank them for the service they have provided over the years. We have always stated out support for the ferry service, which makes such a difference for people travelling into town from that side of the river.

"We would obvious look to support any future operator who came forward with a proposal for the future running of the ferry.”

One customer, Nigel Chapman, took to social media to thank the Kingstons for their service over the years.

He said: "Happy to see West Lynn Ferry operators retire but sorry it's in abrupt circumstances. 20 years constantly crossing River Great Ouse all day, six days a week.

"Thank you Steve and Gail for saving us foot passengers countless hours in traffic. Enjoy your time ahead."

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