"". Old Photographs of Liverpool Liverpool Picturebook Ferries and the River Mersey | Liverpool Picturebook Google

Search this Site: Find what you're looking for enter your search in the box below

Ferries and the River Mersey

People have been crossing the River Mersey by ferry between the Wirral and Liverpool for almost 800 years and even though many of these ferries no longer operate the places where they used to come and go from are still known. Place names such as Monks Ferry, Job's Ferry, New Ferry and Rock Ferry show where ferries used to run between the Wirral and Liverpool. Some of the main ferries to Liverpool operated from New Brighton, Egremont, Seacombe, Woodside, Monks Ferry, and Runcorn. Early ferryboats would have been rowing boats and were replaced by wooden sailing vessels. These were then replaced by steam vessels and then later on by diesel-electric powered vessels.




The Corporation Years

Until the establishment of the Mersey Railway in 1886, the ferries were the only means of crossing the river, and so all of the routes were heavily used. All of the ferry routes were owned by private interests before coming under municipal ownership in the mid 19th century. The Woodside ferry was taken over by the Birkenhead Commissioners in 1858 and, in 1861, the Wallasey Local Board took over the ferry services at Seacombe, Egremont and New Brighton



Eastham Ferry,

Eastham Ferry




New Brighton Ferry


New Brighton Ferry 1835

At Woodside, land between the Woodside Hotel and the end of the old pier was reclaimed, and in 1861 the floating landing stage was opened. The pontoons were towed into position, moored by chains originally made for the SS Great Eastern, and linked to the mainland by two double bridges.






The Cheshire, the first passenger ferry steamer to have a saloon, operated from Woodside in 1864. The iron pier at Eastham was built in 1874. On 26 November 1878, the ferry Gem, a paddle steamer operated from Seacombe by the Wallasey Local Board, collided with the Bowfell, a wooden sailing ship at anchor on the River Mersey; five people died as a result
This was not the only accident to disrupt the Ferry service  the ship the Empire Commander embedded herself in the Egremont Ferry Landing Stage on 21st May1932 causing £7,340 worth  of damage.



The Empire Commander
er

The Royal Family

The "Royal" prefix was granted to the ferries Iris and Daffodil for their service during the First World War where they were instrumental at the Mole in Zeebrugge. Both ferries were badlyThe Royal Family The "Royal" prefix was granted to the ferries Iris and Daffodil for their service during the First World War where they were instrumental at the Mole in Zeebrugge. Both ferries were badly damaged but returned home to a triumphant greeting. Since the original duo's withdrawal, there have been other Royals. The Royal Daffodil 2 was arguably the most luxurious ferry ever built. She was hit by a bomb and sunk at her berth in the Second World War, but later raised and returned to service, with little of her pre-war splendour. Perhaps the most famous Royal is the Royal Iris of 1951. She was the best loved of all the Mersey ferries. She was the first diesel powered vessel of the Wallasey fleet. She had four diesel generators connected to two Metrovick marine propulsion units. She differed to all the other ferries as she had super smooth lines and a dummy funnel in place. She played host to hundreds of party cruises and bands such as Gerry & The Pacemakers, The Searchers, The Beatles and also Elvis Costello. She received a major refit in the 1970s and her popular fish and chip cafe - which earned her the name "the fish and chip boat" - was removed and replaced with a steak bar. The Royal Iris remained in service for nearly 40 years before being sold in 1993 - two years after withdrawal - for use as a floating nightclub. She is now berthed at Woolwich, London.  damaged but returned home to a triumphant greeting. Since the original duo's withdrawal, there have been other Royals. The Royal Daffodil 2 was arguably the most luxurious ferry ever built. She was hit by a bomb and sunk at her berth in the Second World War, but later raised and returned to service, with little of her pre-war splendour. Perhaps the most famous Royal is the Royal Iris of 1951. She was the best loved of all the Mersey ferries. She was the first diesel powered vessel of the Wallasey fleet. She had four diesel generators connected to two Metrovick marine propulsion units. She differed to all the other ferries as she had super smooth lines and a dummy funnel in place. She played host to hundreds of party cruises and bands such as Gerry & The Pacemakers, The Searchers, The Beatles and also Elvis Costello. She received a major refit in the 1970s and her popular fish and chip cafe - which earned her the name "the fish and chip boat" - was removed and replaced with a steak bar. The Royal Iris remained in service for nearly 40 years before being sold in 1993 - two years after withdrawal - for use as a floating nightclub. She is now berthed at Woolwich, London.


Royal Daffodil sunk at her moorings

Royal Daffodil I



As a result of the Transport Act 1968, both Wallasey and Birkenhead Corporations merged under the single control of the Merseyside Passenger Transport Executive (MPTE) on 1 December 1969. By this time, New Brighton had declined as a tourist destination and coupled with silting problems near the landing stage, the ferry service was withdrawn in 1971, with the stage and pier subsequently demolished. In spite of the close proximity of Wallasey and Birkenhead and their respective ferry landing stages, both Corporations had used different gangway spacing on their vessels. This meant that a Wallasey ferry could not utilise both gangways at Birkenhead's terminal at Woodside, and that a Birkenhead boat would be similarly disadvantaged at Seacombe and New Brighton. The Pier Head at Liverpool was obliged to have gangways to suit both sets of ships. When the combined ferry fleet was rationalised, Seacombe Ferry landing stage required the construction of an additional gangway to cater for the Birkenhead vessels.



Princes Landing Stage 1969


MV Royal Iris

The Royal Iris moored at Woolwich September 2011



The ferries played a big part in Liverpool's European Capital of Culture 2008 celebrations. The ferries carried record numbers of passengers, and on the 18–21 July, the Tall Ships returned to the Mersey. A combination of the Tall Ships and the Golf Open at nearby Royal Birkdale ensured over 1 million visitors to the city over the weekend, with many of these taking a trip on the famous ferries. Sunday 20 July saw an unusual sight of all three ferries out on the river at night, with the Snowdrop being berthed at Woodside and the Royal Iris and Royal Daffodil at Seacombe. All three ferries were packed to capacity over the weekend, with the Royal Daffodil operating a special cruise to witness the parade of sail and departure of the ships on Monday 21 July.


King John created the Borough of Liverpool in 1207 and confirmed a legal right of passages, which was a right to charge and receive a toll for being ferried over the river. The Burgesses of Liverpool didn't have to pay but everyone else had to pay a toll. In 1256 Bailiffs of the Borough of Liverpool documented a £10 rent (current value - over £7000) taken as payment for a lease of all royal rights which included the ferry. Robert de Ferrers lost his claim to the ancient ferry rights of Liverpool to the Crown in 1266, which then gave the rights to Edmund, Earl of Lancaster. In 1323 his son Thomas rebelled against King Edward II and the right of ferry transferred back to the Crown. 







Pin It