For many hundreds of years before the bridges, the ferry from Aust to Beachley was an important crossing point of the River Severn. The place name remains captured by a few old road signs across the area but the once bustling Aust Ferry terminal is now ramshackle and overgrown. The site is now a quiet and forgotten place, peaceful in its proximity to the river and a great spot for quiet reflection or to see birds.
The ferry looked quite different when Bob Dylan was photographed here during his tour of the UK in 1966 just before the ferry closed. In the background of the photograph (used on promotional material for No Direction Home, a film about Dylan’s life produced and directed by Martin Scorcese) you can see the nearly completed first Severn Bridge that would soon replace the ferry service.
Read more about the history of crossing the River Severn here.
The history of the area and its ferries is being preserved by the Severn Princess Restoration Group, a group of enthusiasts restoring the last remaining Severn Princess car ferry. The group talks about the ferries and you can even visit the last remaining Severn Princess, by arrangement.
Did You Know?
The writer of Robinson Crusoe, Daniel Defoe, visited Aust Ferry in the 18th Century but decided not to make the crossing there because it was so dangerous.
“When we came to Aust, the hither side of the Passage, the sea was so broad, the fame of the Bore of the tide so formidable, the wind also made the water so rough, and which was worse, the boats to carry over both man and horse appear’d (as I have said above) so very mean, that in short none of us car’d to venture: So we came back, and resolv’d to keep on the road to Gloucester.”