The crossing from Old Isleworth to Richmond Deer Park is recorded as a ferry crossing as far back as 1635, but has not been in use since 1970. Jonathan Radgick, who bought the rights, said he hoped to run services at weekends during the summer. 'I spent a lot of time rowing on that part of the river when I was younger,' he said. 'It's a leisure thing. People would use it to get across to Kew Gardens and I feel it could be a viable proposition.'
Mr Radgick, managing director of Sallmann Harman Healy, surveyors and auctioneers, lives in central London and said he would employ a professional boatman. 'It has planning permission for a little hut for teas and refreshments, but I haven't considered that yet,' he added.
Reinstating the ferry is seen as an important element in enhancing the riverside landscape and could provide a valuable link between Kew and Syon Park on the opposite bank. The nearest bridge at Richmond lock is about one mile away from the crossing point.
The right to operate services was put up for sale by the receiver after the collapse of Speyhawk, the property company, which built an office development in Isleworth and acquired the ferry and its small landing stages on either side of the river about 10 years ago. The ferry was well used on summer weekends until 1970 and had run regularly, apart from a break during the Second World War, for centuries.