They came from throughout the Rangitikei on Saturday to celebrate another milestone in the history of the Scott's Ferry barge.

This was a second refurbishment of the barge named after early pioneers Anne and Thomas Scott who in 1850 established a trading post and accommodation at Parewanui west of Bulls. Scott also took on the duty of ferryman.

Bulls Museum chairman and restoration project leader Kevin Ellery welcomed a large crowd that included 102-year old Jack Coe who now lives in Marton.

"Every time we drove past we could see the barge deteriorating," Ellery said.

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In 2017 the Bulls Museum raised funds for the ferry barge with a lot of the materials donated.

Horsewoman Linda Third delivers the mail to Kevin Ellery. Photo / Bevan Conley
Horsewoman Linda Third delivers the mail to Kevin Ellery. Photo / Bevan Conley

The Scotts Ferry community donated their time to work on the barge led by Ellery and builder Allan Giles, with the restoration completed in July.

In keeping with the historical theme, mayor Andy Watson and Rangitikei MP Ian McKelvie wearing top hats, arrived in vintage cars, and Linda Third arrived on horseback to deliver the mail.

When asked by Ellery how long the mail took to get through, she responded "80 years".

Heritage New Zealand's David Watt spoke how the early pioneers travelled up from Wellington along the coast and settled in the Rangitikei and Whanganui districts.
"They rode horses and walked, they were hardy people."

Watt also mentioned that Scott's Ferry was a significant landmark in the area as was Flock House and the memorial to Bess.

Bulls Museum chairman Kevin Ellery at the Saturday opening of the refurbished Scott's Ferry barge at Parewanui. Photo / Bevan Conley.
Bulls Museum chairman Kevin Ellery at the Saturday opening of the refurbished Scott's Ferry barge at Parewanui. Photo / Bevan Conley.

The barge had served the Rangitikei district until 1908 when the Featherstons at Parikino on the Whanganui River purchased the barge to ferry cattle across the river.

In 1975 the barge was decommissioned until it was salvaged in 1989 from the banks of the Whanganui River near Pakaitore/Moutoa Gardens.

The late Norm Hubbard of Whanganui and Frank Nitschke were instrumental in the 1990 restoration of the barge.

Location of Scott's Ferry barge