The Harty Ferry was on the Isle of Harty, it took foot passengers to Oare on the other side of the River Swale.
Before the bridges were built access to the Isle of Sheppey were by 3 ferries across the swale. There was the Kings Ferry, a ferry at Elmley and one at Harty. Kings Ferry and the ferry at Elmley were used for cargo, animals and carts, Harty was the only passenger ferry to the mainland.
Initially it would have been a row boat, which the local priest used to use to attend services each day, he lived on the mainland and had never missed a service, although he had to travel through thick fog and rough water to get there. He was stranded in the Swale for a few hours sometimes unable to get to the island till the weather had calmed. After this a winding mechanism was used and the remains, dated to 1657, can still be seen.
The ferry was used until 1946, the passengers were now using the first Sheppey bridge, built in 1904. Many proposals have been made to use the ferry again but have never been put into practice.
The warden of the ferry lived at Harty Ferry house, now what is known as The Harty Ferry Inn, the house was adapted so that it could provide refreshments and shelter for waiting passengers. The current landlord of The Harty Ferry Inn still holds the rights of the ferry.
The last time the slipway at Harty was used was for a delivery at Harty Ferry Inn, to celebrate the opening of the new restaurant. A barge named the Greta was used to transport a barrel of spitfire to the slipway from Oare, the barrel was removed and transferred to a horse and cart and taken to the inn.
Greta was built in 1892, she helped during the Dunkirk evacuation in 1940 and was also chartered during the war to take ammunition from Upnor Castle to the ships waiting at the Nore, just off sheerness.
The Harty Ferry Inn can be found at the end of Harty Ferry Road, the restaurant serves as much local produce as possible.