In Ever Loving
Violet Maude Handscomb
Who was Drowned in the
Ferry Boat Disaster at Fen Ditton
June 10th 1905 Aged 22 Years
The Ferry boat tragedy occured when some drunken undergraduate students attempted to climb aboard the already full 'Plough Ferry' at Fen Ditton shortly after the May boat races had taken place in nearby Cambridge.
As the ferry overturned, Violet was one of three women who drowned and lost their lives that day.
Today the River Cam appears to be a relatively tame and easy river to cross, but in Edwardian times it was wider and shallower and edged by fen and bog, making it extremely hard to cross. Wagons, livestock and pedestrians used the ferries to traverse the river at this time.
Today there are many bridges crossing The Cam in Cambridge, but apart from the Great Bridge ~ the origin of the City's name and more commonly known as Magdalene Bridge ~ most river crossings before the Edwardian period required a ferry, of which there were several.
Bate's Ferry on the site of Victoria Bridge: a ferry by the Fort St. George ~ replaced by a footbridge in 1927.
Dant's ferry replaced by the Cutter ~ Pye ~ footbridge, between Pembroke and Emmanuel Boat Houses.
Horse Grind ferry at Chesterton by the Green Dragon pub.
B.Jolley's ferry from the Pike and Eel pub.
Ditton Plough ferry.
All of these were known as 'Grind' ferries, because they were pulled across by a chain wound by hand. The Horse Grind ferry was unusual in that the grind was powered by a horse.