Friends of the Ferries
(Friends of the Ferries Across the Mersey)
Our organisation was founded nearly 40 years ago in 1977 to maintain and improve the Mersey Ferry Services. At that time, the Merseyside Passenger Transport Bill was passing through Parliament, and it included a clause which would permit the Woodside Ferry (then protected by statute) to be closed. Local MP’s rallied to our cause, and after two and a half hours of debate on that particular issue, the Bill was only allowed to proceed on the basis that the disputed clause would be dropped.
Since then, the Mersey Ferries have been much enhanced, with new or refurbished terminals and stages, modernised vessels, and a new approach to marketing and staff training. Investments continued with the opening of the “Spaceport” exhibition at Seacombe Ferry terminal, and the display of the World War II U534 German submarine, erected in sections next to the Woodside Ferry terminal, which also incorporates an interpretation centre. A new terminal building incorporating a Beatles museum at the Liverpool Pier Head opened early in 2009. A replacement for the temporary landing stage at the Pier Head (which was installed following the sinking of the 1970’s concrete stage in March 2006) was operational by 2012, and is in keeping with the modern design of the adjacent new ocean liner berth.
Mersey Ferry Service
A triangular ferry service operates between the Pier Head (Liverpool), Seacombe (Wallasey), and Woodside (Birkenhead). In recent years this takes the form of an hourly-only circular cruise between these terminals from 10.00am until 5.00pm Mondays to Fridays, and all day at weekends. A more frequent direct ferry service operates on Mondays to Fridays during peak times. From the autumn of 2006, however, the morning and (more recently) the evening peak service to Woodside was deleted entirely in favour of a frequent 20 minute service between Seacombe (with its park and ride facility) and the Pier Head only.
Three vessels are still owned by Mersey Ferries. Two vessels, the Royal Iris (formerly Mountwood 1959); and Snowdrop (formerly Woodchurch 1959) ply on the river. The Royal Daffodil (formerly Overchurch 1961) has been withdrawn from service for several years, but is stated to be being maintained a condition allowing it to be re-instated in service if passenger demands increase. In addition to the daily services, the vessels operate Manchester Ship Canal cruises, special events, and private charters.
Aims of the Friends of the Ferries
The Friends remain concerned for the future of the ferry service as more emphasis is placed on leisure activities. There are worries that transport finance could be lost as direct terminal to terminal services are cut-back, and that the leisure-based river operations could become seasonal. Park and ride facilities were not provided at Woodside, despite the success of this policy at Seacombe terminal, and at many Merseyside railway stations. Passenger numbers were allowed to fall at Woodside until all commuter services were axed recently, despite our objections.
Our organisation is striving to maintain a regular and frequent service between the terminals. On occasion, we meet face to face with directors and management of Mersey Ferries to discuss relevant matters. Nevertheless, we consider it prudent in the light of experience to enhance our funds so that we may obtain first-class legal opinion in the event that a further significant down-grading of the ferry service is proposed.
Our annual membership is only £2 per annum. This provides members with two Chair’s letters and two printed Newsletters per annum. Our membership remains consistently high, with a remarkable renewal rate over the years, and we currently have over 500 annually paid-up members. Additional funds are raised through a Christmas Draw, raffles, sales items, and in particular an annual chartered ferry dock and river cruise each summer between New Brighton and Eastham, including the operational waters within the Liverpool Dock system, using the Gladstone and Langton Locks and including a visit to the Seaforth Container Terminal.
Please send subscriptions (valid for 12 months from April through to March) to:
Gordon Ditchfield, Hon. Membership Secretary,
7 Foxcovers Road, Bebington, Wirral, CH63 3EQ.
Cheques payable to Friends of the Ferries. Membership cards/receipts are sent with the next Newsletter mailing - usually April and November.
If you require an immediate receipt, please enclose SAE.
FRIENDS OF THE FERRIES MANAGEMENT COMMITTEE
|Hon. Chairman:||A.D. Hodgson.|
|Hon. Vice Chairman and Hon. Treasurer:||M.R. McRonald B.A., F.C.C.A.|
|Hon. Secretary:||D.J. Hocker.|
|Hon. Membership Secretary:||G.R. Ditchfield.|
|Hon. Publicity and Marketing Officer:||J. Roberts.|
|Newsletter Editor:||G. Holmes.|
|Committee Members:||A. Blizzard, T. Edgar, R. Peers.|
Sales items are available from Joan Roberts 10 Bayswater Gardens Wallasey Wirral CH45 8LB Tel. 0151 639 1435.
For a full sales list send SAE. Cheques payable to Joan Roberts, please.
Colour postcards of the three current ferry vessels, and the 1951 Royal Iris (all 18p each);
and some black and white cards of historic vessels (10p each).
Friends of the Ferries retractable biros (30p).
SAE please for the above items.
Don Woods has produced the following three DVD’s:
Mersey Cruise; Wallasey Past and Present; Liverpool (£8.50 each);
He has also recorded a CD: Songs of the River (£7.50).
These prices all incl. p&p.
Also available from Joan are some Norman Colbourne paintings, printed as cards, and with envelopes (6”x 8”). They are suitable for greetings or framing:
The Old Routine passengers walking around the deck of J.Farley,
and Evening Boat with Egremont off Seacombe.
There are similar cards depicting some famous past liners at the Pier Head, with the vessel’s history on the back:
Cards £1 each plus postage:
(1 or 2 cards 56p; up to 9 cards £1.22; over 9 cards £1.58).