Cornwall Living 2018

In conversation with… Tim Light

On a beautiful summer’s day, Mandy heads down the river Fal to meet Tim Light, who is living the dream since taking over the King Harry Ferry.

A gorgeous drive, past the entrance to Trelissick, and onto the river Fal. I arrive at the traditional ferryman’s cottage that is home to the King Harry Ferry and Fal River Company to meet Managing Director Tim Light. He is waiting at the top of the slip way and, pointing to the small patio area, says, “I thought we could meet in the outside office?”  Tim disappears to make us tea and leaves me with his trusty dog to gaze at the view of the river and tree lined shore. As well as boats of all shapes and sizes, including the ferry ploughing its way backwards and forwards, we also see a squirrel swimming across the river! “I’ve watched it swim across before,” Tim explains, “I like to think it’s visiting its mate.”
How it all began
Like many of us, Tim’s story starts with regular family holidays in Cornwall as a child. “We always went on the King Harry Ferry and the ferry across to St Mawes, I loved it, but, at the time didn’t really think that you could actually own a ferry! But here I am, it really is a dream come true.”

After a career as an Army Officer, Tim moved with his own family to Cornwall. “The main reason was that Cornwall seemed a really good place to bring up our children. I was unemployed when we moved down, did a variety of jobs, and then in 2000 the King Harry Ferry came up for sale. I got together with a few friends in the pub, we put together a syndicate and on 6th April 2001 we had our very own ferry!”

The business

The ferry itself was in pretty bad condition so more money had to be spent and Tim quickly realised that they needed to increase the number of passengers throughout the year; so started to market the area as a holiday destination. This later became the Fal River Company; “We now have over 450 partners in and around the Fal. It’s important that we all share the same vision: to make sure our visitors have a truly fantastic time and come back. Holidays really are about creating wonderful memories.” Tim pauses and adds thoughtfully, “but I think Cornwall has to be really careful to keep its uniqueness, a certain rawness. Change is great, but it has to carry that Cornish philosophy.”


“There is a lovely sense of space, and opportunity: personally, corporately, collectively to do some really great stuff. Both in my occupation and family, there is a feeling of being in the right place at the right time; it’s a love affair with the place that makes you want to put something back. In the last fifteen years things like the university and innovation centres, and the growth in small, vibrant, new businesses, has helped create a much more confident county.”

True to his beliefs, Tim is a Board member for the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and Visit Cornwall as well as ‘business friend’ of the Hall For Cornwall. And, as a public service, the company runs the Visitor Information Centre in Falmouth.

“When I get the chance I love sailing. I have a gorgeous old boat. My son and I go fishing and picnicking. And walking: the ferry to St Mawes, the little ferry across to Place and then walk round the headland above the lighthouse. And most mornings I take all five of the office dogs for a walk round Trelissick. I’m lucky to have an extremely nice team, so visitors love coming back to see them and locals regularly drop in; we really do feel part of this community. When I retire I want to work on the ferry; be a proper ferryman.”

 King Harry Ferry & Cornwall  ferries Ltd

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