ludham archive

     Bob Rice and the Thurne Ferry

On the bank of the River Thurne opposite the end of Thurne Dyke stands St Benet's Level Drainage Mill. Near to the mill, there once stood a cottage long since destroyed by fire. It was called Marsh or Ferry House. From this spot, a ferry used to operate taking people across the Thurne. In the days before people had cars, it was a long walk from Thurne to Ludham as you had to go all the way round via Potter Heigham Bridge and the ferry was well used by local people making their way round the area.
Bob Rice was the ferryman for 40 years until his retirement in 1915. Bob was a fourth generation marshman and as well as the ferry he would look after the mill and carry out a daily inspection of the local marshes which were then ecclesiastical land and used for fattening cattle.


Bob's father, Benjamin Rice, lived at the old thatched cottage at Ludham Bridge and it was here that Bob grew up. For a while he went to sea as a fisherman but left this life to look after the cattle on the marshes. He used to walk 6 miles every day, summer and winter and is said to have covered 175,000 miles on foot by the time he retired.
There used to be a shallow bit of river opposite Thurne Dyke and Bob often helped out yachtsmen who had become stuck on the "putty".

Bob Rice had 11 children, 9 of whom survived. His descendants have been researching the family and visited the Ludham Archive. They donated the pictures.


outside cottage at Thurne
Bob Rice outside his cottage at Thurne. Picture from Nigel Bowdery

Bob was part of the large Rice Family who had many branches in Ludham and the surrounding area. We have a page dedicated to the Rice Family. To visit this page and see Bob's Family Tree, click here.

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