This is a shot of the "Wye Invader", from a postcard printed by Graham & Sons Ltd from a photo by Marcus Photos, and it reached Wilton Bridge on the 8th November 1989. This was the largest vessel known to have navigated the River Wye and is 38 meters long and weighs 230 tons and is now moored up towards Hereford. It was brought up river by local businessman Frank Barton, to use as a floating restaurant. This took nearly a year and the owner convinced Hereford council that it would bring economic benefits to the river and so a mooring was obtained.
The "Wye Invader" at Wilton Bridge [Printed Graham & Sons Ltd/Photo: Marcus Photos] (Click for a larger image)
The "Wye Invader" was built in Holland in 1930 and was first known as "Luctor" and was owned by Mr. K. Kamminga from Gasselternijveen. In the years around 1970 it was
owned by Mr. Klaas Hooiveld who named the ship "Zwerver" and the family Hooiveld lived on the ship for several years.
It then passed into the hands of Mr. Reindert Delhaas and in 1972 it was named "Petronella". In 1979 it became known as "Elsje-N" when Mr. Nieboer from Deventer
purchased it. At some point after this it was owned by Mr. Keizer from Grijpskerk who called it "Zilvermeeuw" until it was renamed for its trip up the River Wye
by Mr. Frank Barton3.
The Wye Invader below Wilton Bridge [Photo: J.C.Coombes] (Click for a larger image)
The Wye Invader passing under Wilton Bridge [Photo: J.C.Coombes] (Click for a larger image)
The bow of the Wye Invader [Photo: J.C.Coombes] (Click for a larger image)
This postcard, also by Marcus Photos, shows the Wye Invader after it had passed under the bridge and was making its way further upstream to Hereford.
The "Wye Invader" above Wilton Bridge [Photo: Marcus Photos] (Click for a larger image)
The boat was purchased by Mr. Frank Barton, an ex SAS garage owner from Hereford, with the aim of being converted into a floating restaurant
at Hereford. The trip from Chepstow to Hereford took from April to November 1989 and was skippered from Monmouth to Ross by Gerald Gardiner2.
When it got to Symonds Yat it was moored outside of Garth Cottage after its ascent up the rapids2.
It is reported that he made at least one trip to Hay-on-Wye2 probably as part of an ongoing dispute over the rights of navigation on the Wye1.
The request to use it as a restaurant was repeatedly refused so the boat remained beached just below the old bridge until at
least July 19951 and was eventually moved into a semi-dry dock at Hampton Bishop just south of Hereford on the Rotherwas
side of the river. It was then kept in good order and regularly maintained.
On the 29th November 2012 the Wye Invader, whilst the river was in flood, started its journey back down the river from the dry dock reputed at about 10 mph.
It had a crew of three and the cabin had to be removed in order for it to pass under the bridges. On the 1st December 2012 it arrived at Ross and at around
midday made its way under Wilton Bridge.
To do this a member of the crew was put on the shore and fixed a line so that the barge could be winched through the bridge backwards whilst maintaining control of its position in the channel. The passing of the bridge was highly successful with only a single small collision with the bridge.
It then travelled on down to Symonds Yat arriving at about 16:00 after getting stuck for a shortwhile somewhere between Wilton Brdige and Kerne Bridge. It was was
then reported to be heading onwards for a dry dock on the Severn.
1The Bridges of Wales and Western England by E. Jervoise, A.M.Inst.C.E. - pub 1936 The Architectural Press 2The Turbulent Story of Ross & Archenfield against the famout background of Ross-on-Wye - Sept. 4 and 5 1976