Archive shows the ferries that crossed the River Severn before the bridges were built

Amazing archive shows the ferries which transported people between Wales and England in the days before the Severn bridges

Before the bridges, crossing the Severn Estuary by car would have been a very different journey.

The Severn Ferry Service began in 1926 and ran for 40 years.

Generations of motorists crossed the River Severn by buying a ticket, driving their car along a narrow slipway and then carefully maneuvering it onto a ferry.

It was a 10-minute crossing that spared drivers a 50-mile detour via Gloucester.

The Severn Princess transporting drivers across the Severn waters. Credit: Vanished Wales

The Severn Ferry Service is long gone. But volunteers have rescued the last surviving vessel.

It was discovered completely by chance and made an incredible journey back to Wales.

'The Severn Princess' ferry boat was launched in 1959. Eventually, it was sold on - and so for 30 years, no one knew where it had gone.

Tim Ryan from the Severn Princess Trust has been helping to restore the boat and ensured it was safely returned to Chepstow.

He said: "A friend of ours was in Galway and did the Connemara coast, went to a little fishing village called Kilkieran for lunch, and in the harbour was this big, old rusting boat.

The Severn Princess now lives in Chepstow and is being lovingly restored by volunteers. Credit: ITV Wales/Vanished Wales

"And he thought, ‘That’s the Severn Princess’. And she was wedged up on the harbour wall, she’d been hit by a massive Atlantic storm and had been abandoned by the owners.

"So we thought, let’s get this thing home. Galway council came and placed a demolition order on her.

"They were going to scrap her and we got her out of Kilkieran the day before she was due to be scrapped by the council.

"So it was a real mad dash. Towed her across the Irish sea, that’s a story in itself and back up to Chepstow and here we are."

Each ferry boat, including the Severn Princess, had a distinctive turntable that spun vehicles into position.

That turntable has now been reunited with the Severn Princess thanks to the hard work of the volunteers from the Severn Princess Trust.

Tim says restoring the ferry has been a real 'labour of love'. "It’s unlikely she’ll ever set sail again - instead, she’ll stand as a living museum piece, a precious reminder of the past", he added.

"What this vessel does is evoke so much emotion and so much memory and so much tradition. It’s fantastic."

You can see more on this story, and many other lost landmarks, in Vanished Wales. Friday 27th May at 7pm on ITV Cymru Wales. You can also catch up with the series here.