History of The River Great Ouse
Originally named Slope, (a muddy slope rising out of a fora), the town had long been a river port and crossing point on The River Great Ouse. Around 1105 a wooden bridge was built where there had been a ford. The stone bridge with its chapel is one of only four surviving chapel bridges in he country, built by the Ramsey monks in 1414-15. In subsequent centuries tolls were levied on boats passing under the bridge. By the 17th Century The Ouse became navigable upstream to Great Barford and later to Bedford, incresing the importance of St.Ives as a trading port (before locks were built navigation was dependant on the tides).
In the 19th Century vast quantities of coal, corn, timber, cattle food, stone and reeds were transported up and down river.
Up until the early 20th Century 15-20 tonne barges known as Fen Lighters transported goods along The Great Ouse. However in the mid 19 Century railways spread quickly throughout the country and barge traffic started to dwindle on most of the rivers and canals in the country.
As transportation was in decline recreational activity along the river became more popular. Few people had cars to go away at weekends and it was customary for many to hire a punt or rowing boat for the day.
The first fiberglass craft was built by a pig farmer, and when people saw it, asked him to make them one, and the firm of Seamasters was created. Freeman started shortly afterwards.
We have recently been granted planning permission for a marina extension. The site is adjacent to the existing marina on the down stream side of the lock where we plan to install an additional 104 floating pontoons with water and electricity. The site will also have a cafe, shower block, hardstanding, slipway and parking. We hope to start construting the new basin in 2012. Please click on image opposite to see details of the plans.