Friends of the Ferries
(Friends of the Ferries Across the Mersey)
Our organisation was founded over forty five 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. In May 2022 the Pier Head Terminal was renamed The Gerry Marsden Terminal. In 2021/2022 the Seacombe Terminal and stage were refurbished. Here, the former Spaceport exhibition and its environs were converted into Eureka!, a discovery and educational activity centre for young people.
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. In October 2022, the Woodside stage was taken out of service for replacement/refurbishment on the re-opening of the refurbished Seacombe Terminal.
Two vessels are still owned by Mersey Ferries. They are, the Royal Iris of the Mersey (formerly Mountwood 1959); and Snowdrop (formerly Woodchurch 1959) ply on the river. The Royal Daffodil (now renamed Daffodil and formerly Overchurch 1961) is now privately owned and is proposed to be moved from Garston Dock to a berth in Canning Dock (next to Liverpool One). Her new use will be as a restaurant, bar and bijou hotel. In addition to the daily services, the vessels operate Manchester Ship Canal cruises, Specialist cruises (including bird-watching, music based evenings, 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 about 400 annually paid-up members. Additional funds are raised through a Christmas Draw, raffles, 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 across the Mersey Policy
GENERAL DATA PROTECTION REGULATION 2018
Friends of the Ferries across the Mersey holds personal information on a computer and card index relating to the names and addresses of members, and in some cases their email address and telephone number. This information will be used solely for the purposes of communicating with you. Friends of the Ferries does not share this information with any other person or organisations. If you wish us us to delete your personal information please inform the Membership Secretary.
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. Membership Secretary:||G.R. Ditchfield.|
|Hon. Publicity and Marketing Officer:||J. Roberts.|
|Newsletter Editor:||G. Holmes.|
|Committee Members:||A. Blizard, T. Edgar, R. Peers.|