ABOUT OUR VILLAGE
Owston Ferry is situated in the Isle of Axholme, occupying a position on the west bank of the River Trent roughly half way between Gainsborough and Scunthorpe.
Originally two settlements; Owston, from the Old Norse for ‘east farmstead’, on the slightly higher ground just west of the Trent and containing the Parish Church of St Martin’s, and West Kinnard’s Ferry along the riverside; it was not normally referred to as Owston Ferry until the early 1900’s. In the Domesday Book of 1086 Owston is listed as having 15 households; including 6 smallholders, land for 4 ploughs, 6 acers of meadow, 1 of woodland, plus 3 fisheries. Value to the Lord in 1066, £6. ‘Kinnard’ is a corruption of ‘King Edward’ and relates to the granting of a charter for a market, annual fair and ferry crossing by King Edward III. The market was held until the late nineteenth century and the village still possess its Market Place. The ferry ceased operation about 1951 and the annual ‘Ferry Feast’ fair lasted until the late 1970’s.
Owston Ferry developed as the chief port for the Isle of Axholme, long ago being awarded the appellation of the ‘Town and Port of Ferry’. Agricultural produce was sent off to market and coal and domestic goods were brought in. Also the packet steamers, plying between Gainsborough and Hull made ‘Ferry’ their main port of call en route. This passenger service ceased to be daily after 1900 and did not survive World War 1, a victim of competition from rail and road, which also accounted for commercial river traffic during the 1930’s. The creation of flood defences, either by raising of the banks or the construction of flood walls has resulted in ‘Ferry’ turning its back on the river.
However, evidence of the village’s history as a port is still plentiful, with old mills and maltkilns converted for residential use. Moreover, ‘Ferry’ is fortunate to have a variety of other historic sites and buildings. Castle Hill is the site of a twelfth century motte and bailey fortification – St Martin’s Church, with its beautiful stained glass, was built within the castle grounds. On Epworth Road are sites of a Roman settlement and a Carthusian Priory. An early (1837) Methodist Chapel, with balcony, is still in active use as are the six Almhouses, built in 1860 with finance from a local benefactress.
Ferry also has its own Museum at the Old Smithy on High Street. This is a unique combination of a perfectly preserved Victorian blacksmith’s forge and a fascinating memorabilia filled museum of over a hundred years of life in ‘Ferry’. The village War Memorial, on High Street, has 22 names from WW1 and 5 from WW2.
Several village organisations ensure that ‘Ferry’ as it is always refer to by us locals, remains vibrant. They include Community Group, History Society, Bowls Club, Xmas Tree and Lights, Sports Club, Pumping Station Preservation and Women’s Institute. We have a good range of facilities and services including School, Village Hall and Playing Field, Post Office, Doctor’s surgery, General Store, Care Home and 2 Pubs.