The Elford family were major landowners in the Oreston area and were responsible for a certain amount of the housing development there. They were also responsible, across three generations, for the running of the Oreston and Turnchapel Ferry. A service was begun in the late 1860s to cater for the needs, working, shopping and pleasure seeking, of the expanding population around the mouth of the Plym. The water route was, before the advent of the bus, the easiest and the quickest way to get from Oreston to Mount Batten to Phoenix Wharf and to Cattedown – indeed in many respects it remains so to this day.
Henry Elford’s red funnelled steamers came into their own in the 1880s with Elford’s decision to build a large wooden pier off Turnchapel and for the next eighty years the service plied back and forth with sometimes up to five or six boats running all day – from six in the morning until ten o’clock at night.