Thursday 19 September, 2019
FERRY SERVICE CURRENTLY SUSPENDED  Please see NEWS page for full details


Sandbanks Ferry Company says passenger safety must be a priority for any interim ferry plans

The Sandbanks Ferry Company has stated that passenger safety remains its primary consideration as the company continues to assess options for an interim service for whenever the chain ferry is out of action for sustained periods of time.

The Ferry Company has explored a variety of potential alternatives to maintain a level of service while the ferry is under repair. These have included investigating the temporary use of a replacement vehicle ferry from Germany. The Company was unable to progress these plans as while the vehicle ferry met German safety standards, it did not comply with UK regulations.

Other potential interim options have been presented by members of the local community, including the suggestion to partner with the Brownsea Island Ferry Company to run a service from a new temporary modular floating pontoon at Shell Bay in Studland to the existing Brownsea Island Ferry jetty in Sandbanks.

Mike Kean, Managing Director of the Sandbanks Ferry Company, said: “We are very sorry for the impact this ferry suspension is currently having upon the local community, particularly in Studland and Swanage. We have been working tirelessly to investigate all potentially viable options until the chain ferry returns to service, including options put forward by the Studland community. We are looking carefully at the suggested plans to install a temporary pontoon at Shell Bay and are consulting with several external agencies to assess its viability.

“We are currently awaiting the outcome of an application to the Marine Management Organisation, which is needed to progress the plan. Our investigations so far have raised considerable concerns, including that the proposed pontoon may be unsafe in certain tidal conditions and in poor weather. Additionally, a temporary ferry service may be suspended at short notice should conditions change suddenly, running the risk of leaving passengers stranded.

“We cannot, and will not, compromise on passenger safety, which continues to be our number one priority as we progress these plans.”

The Sandbanks Ferry Company has met with members of the public from both Sandbanks and Studland to update concerned residents on the Company’s continuing efforts to identify a viable interim solution.

Mike Kean added: “I am very grateful for the continuing understanding of the public, especially those who have taken the time to suggest potential interim options. I would like to reassure local residents that we will continue to assess all potentially viable alternatives as a priority.”

The Sandbanks Ferry Company is in receipt of regular updates from the manufacturers of the chain ferry replacement parts, the last of which are scheduled to arrive at its ship repair facility in Southampton by mid-October. Reassembly works will commence immediately on a 24 hours a day basis, with the objective, weather permitting, to return the ferry to Poole by the end of October

Press release 21 August 2019

Sandbanks Ferry Company meets with local MPs to discuss plans to return chain ferry to service

In light of local concerns over the suspension of the chain ferry service which links Sandbanks to Shell Bay in Studland, the operators of the Sandbanks Ferry recently met with local MPs to discuss the efforts being undertaken to bring the service back into operation as quickly as possible.

Richard Drax, Member of Parliament for South Dorset, and Robert Syms, Member of Parliament for Poole, visited the Sandbanks Ferry Company senior management team in the ferry office at Shell Bay, Studland. During the meeting, the MPs were presented with a detailed briefing of the current repair situation and the measures the ferry company has undertaken to investigate alternative options for customers while the ferry is out of service.

Richard Drax MP commented: “There is little doubt in my mind that this breakdown could not have been foreseen or prevented. I understand from the company that the driveshaft, made with specialist steel, is designed to last the lifetime of the ferry. I fully appreciate that both the ferry operator and local people and businesses are suffering at what is the busiest time of the year. Following my meeting, I am reassured that the company is doing all it reasonably can to get the ferry back in service, which is expected in October.”

Robert Syms MP added: “During the meeting with the Sandbanks Ferry Company, we discussed potential measures to offer an alternative car or foot passenger service while the ferry is under repair. I am satisfied that the ferry company has investigated all potential avenues and that at present, due to sea conditions and landing infrastructure, there are no viable alternatives which enable the company to operate a safe replacement vessel in the short term.”

Mike Kean, managing director of the Sandbanks Ferry Company, said: “We are very grateful that Richard Drax and Robert Syms were able to meet with us. We were pleased to provide both Members of Parliament with assurances that we are doing everything in our power to return the ferry service as soon as possible.

“We wholly appreciate the frustrations and difficulties the ferry service suspension is causing to the local community, and so we are very grateful for the understanding and patience of our customers while we work through this issue. We will continue to work in close harmony with local businesses, residents and organisations as we focus on bringing the ferry service back into operation at the earliest possible opportunity.”

Press release 13 August 2019





The Sandbanks Ferry Company has set out its plans to return the chain ferry to service during October 2019, including measures to reimburse customers who have paid for tickets in advance.

Mike Kean, Managing Director of the Sandbanks Ferry Company, said: “I speak on behalf of the entire team at the Sandbanks Ferry Company when I express my regret that the chain ferry service has been unavoidably suspended from service.

“The failing of the drive shaft is an entirely unprecedented issue and one which, to my knowledge, has never occurred on any other ferry of this type. The ferry has passed all regulatory and insurance inspections with no such issues highlighted. As the drive shaft assembly is built to last the lifetime of the vessel, it was not amongst the hundreds of replacement parts which we routinely keep in stock.”

“The replacement components were sourced and ordered as soon as possible from an approved manufacturer in Sweden. To return the ferry to service as soon as possible, we paid an additional £46,000 to reduce the stated 24-week lead time by more than half. Once the parts arrive in the UK, our dedicated team will be working around the clock to repair and test the ferry with the objective of returning it to full service as soon as possible.”

Mike Kean added: “I would like to thank all of our customers for their continued patience while we work hard on returning the ferry to service. I understand the frustrations and inconvenience the service suspension has caused, which is why we are doing everything in our power to return the ferry to normal service as soon as we can. We are all absolutely committed to serving the needs of the local community and will be providing regular updates on the progress of the repairs in order to help ferry users plan ahead for the next few weeks.”

In response to enquiries as to why a stand-in ferry has not been sourced, Mike Kean commented: “Chain ferries are built to order on a two-year lead time, staying in service until the end of their serviceable life. We have carried out an exhaustive search in the hope of finding a similar vessel to provide a stand-in service, but regrettably there are no suitable ferries on the market in a state of good repair, or which could be quickly brought up to a serviceable level. “ Questions have been raised in the media regarding the provision of an alternative type of vessel, such as a foot passenger service. On this subject, Mike commented: “As foot passenger vessels require a jetty for passengers to embark and alight safely, unfortunately this isn’t a viable option in the short term while we work on returning the chain ferry to service. The landing slipways which are used by the chain ferry aren’t suitable to use as landing points for the vast majority of vessels.”

In response to comments in the media regarding the security of a fund to pay for the future replacement ferry, Mike Kean commented: “The Sandbanks Ferry Company’s latest accounts as at 31st March 2019, submitted to the Secretary of State for Transport, show that the Motor Ferry Replacement Reserve (MFRR) is now ring fenced for the sole purpose of replacing the current vessel when it comes to the end of its time in service. Additionally, dividends have not been taken from the company for over two years and the Company made an overall loss for the year.

“Our policy is, and will continue to be, that dividends will not be paid in any given year before sufficient funds have been transferred into the MFRR to ensure that we hit the target required to replace the existing vessel in the future.”

Customers who have purchased books of ferry tickets through the Sandbanks Ferry Company during 2019 can apply for a refund to the value of unused tickets. All applications should be made by emailing

Press release 30 July 2019

The Sandbanks Ferry was withdrawn from service on Friday 12th July following an unexpected fracture of one of the main drive shafts and is currently at a repair facility in Southampton. We are working very closely with the MCA (Marine & Coastguard Agency) and Lloyds Register of Shipping (our Class Surveyors for Insurers) to ensure all repairs are conducted to Class standards and specification.

The broken shaft and drive wheel have been removed. The shaft and drive wheel are joined by a hydraulic coupling. As the coupling is a specialist part, we are waiting for the removal kit, which is being flown from Sweden in order to try and separate the coupling. As a precaution we have had the other drive shaft tested and, although no cracks have been detected, the condition is such that we have taken the decision to replace it as well and work has commenced to do this.

As already mentioned, the coupling is a specialist component, which is manufactured to order and, unfortunately, this is on a very long lead time. We are in constant communication with the manufacturers to speed this process up, as well as researching alternatives. The lead time on the coupling means that we do not anticipate being able to resume service until sometime in October. We hope to have a much clearer picture of the return to service date next week.

We sincerely apologise to all our valued customers for this inconvenience and would like to thank all our Contractors, Surveyors (from both Lloyds and MCA) and our Naval Architects BCTQ, who are all working incredibly hard to return us to service as quickly as possible. We also wish to thank the public for the positive words of support received, which certainly helps our hard-working staff who have been demoralised by other uninformed, and in some cases libellous, comments

Postcodes for Sat Nav users

The postcodes necessary for Sat Nav users are BH13 7QN for the Poole/Bournemouth side of the ferry, and BH19 3BA for the Studland/Swanage side of the ferry.


We are pleased to announce that we can now take payments for credit and debit cards at the toll boxes on the Studland side of the crossing and at the Northaven box (the blue hut on the Poole side).

Facebook and Twitter

Follow us on Twitter @Sandbanksferry, and on Facebook for the most up to date information as it happens. Both will be updated if we have any breaks in service.


Pictures of Sanbanks ferry

Pictures of Sanbanks ferry

Pictures of Sanbanks ferry
Ferry Office, Shell Bay, Studland, Swanage, Dorset, BH19 3BA.
Telephone: (01929)450203