The Humber Ferries, by Alun A. DOrley 1968 [ebook]


Book, 8.75”x 5.5”. pp.74, 25 black and white illustrations, tipped in folding sketch map. A good general history of the ferries operated by successive railway companies, and by British Railways, shortly before they were rendered redundant by the Humber suspension bridge.


The author, an interesting character, first became acquainted with the Humber Ferries when travelling home as a Flt. Lieutenant on leave during WWII. It was an interest which remained with him in peace time, to which Alun did not adapt well. His typically RAF gung ho attitude, and a liking for practical jokes, did not go down well in his job as a fairly junior clerk on British Railways. He combined this ,with running a small- holding, poultry and vegetables, miles out in the country in partnership with his wife. There were marital and drink problems, and his promotion prospects were not improved when he bought a clapped out Ford Zodiac from his boss and paid for it with a dud cheque, but Alun continued to assemble his “Humber Ferries” partly because he knew it would irritate his wife that he spent time on it! Eventually in 1967, he produced a very tatty MS which was taken on by a new small publisher, provided that they had a free hand to knock it into some sort of shape. During 1968, Alun suffered spells of ill health, and absence from work, asking frequently when the book would be ready. He was too ill to correct the proofs, which task was undertaken by a friend, and eventually, Alun was given the traditional six free copies allowed to authors and a small royalty cheque from advanced sales. To say he was delighted would be an understatement, and for a time he seemed transformed, but then he was absent from work for a week. It proved impossible to make contact by phone (cut off for non-payment of bill), and he lived too far away for a casual visit.  After ten-days absence, Aluns wife turned up at his place of work, wanting to know when he would be returning from the job he had been sent away to do… Of course he had not been sent away. He was never seen or heard from again. Except… a few years later, a former colleague thought that he saw him on the promenade at a south coast seaside resort. When approached and asked if his name was Alun, the man smiled and said “I am awfully sorry , old boy, I fear you are mistaken”, raised his hat, and strolled away into the sunset.

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