Despite its name Fairacres is very much a family concern and new members of staff will soon become aware of the deep interest the family take in the company, its staff and operations. Since 1983, when the Company came under the Fairacres/Silvermist wing, a good many improvements have been made. Both slipways have been completely rebuilt, in 1994 to accommodate the larger Bramble Bush Bay ferry and resurfaced in 2008, mains electricity laid on to Shell Bay, the old wooden buildings at Shell Bay replaced with a modern office, a roundabout and new toll booths constructed at Shell Bay and a new computerised toll system introduced. Some of the latter changes were made to improve the method of toll collection prior to the introduction, into service of the latest ferry.
“Bramble Bush Bay”
The present ferry “Bramble Bush Bay”, came into service in January 1994, it is the fourth to operate this service but the first to actually have a name. It was named after a small bay, located close to the Shell Bay side of the crossing. It is, in fact, the bay where several houseboats have been stationed for at least the last 50 years. The Bramble Bush Bay, at some 242 feet overall is about 80 feet longer than No. 3., it is wider too by 11 feet having a beam of about 53 feet 6 inches but the draught is virtually the same. The most effective difference between this ferry and all its predecessors is the increased car-carrying capacity. It has a nominal capacity of 48 cars but can quite easily accommodate 52 without difficulty, also buses, coaches and large trucks now only take up two car spaces instead of the four spaces occupied by these vehicles on Ferry No 3. As you might expect, over the 90 years or so since the company began operations the car-carrying capacity of the ferry in service has increased by 220%, rising from 15 in 1926 to the 48 of today.
The future prospects
With the foundation of the Jurassic Coastline, South Coast Path walks and the stunning beaches of Sandbanks and Studland, this crossing remains at least as popular as ever, if not more so.