Friends of the Ferries
Across the Mersey
c/o 7 Foxcovers Road, Bebington, Wirral, CH63 3EQ
Well, here we are, the summer solstice is behind us, and the days are getting shorter already! Never mind, we have had some good weather and high temperatures, notwithstanding the mixed bag we were served with during the Jubilee Bank Holiday. Hope you have managed a ferry trip or two using the Woodside Terminal with its welcoming environment and a wide range of catering offers. One negative there, however, is that the vintage tram service now terminates round the corner in Shore Road, due to defective rails (shades of Merseyrail!). We hope the Tramway Preservation Society can soon obtain the necessary repair funds.
The circular Mersey Ferries “Explorer” cruises remain popular, and we are glad to note a further expansion of the limited Liverpool Bay, Birdwatching and Wild Life, and Evening Cruises. Some of the last-named, with live music, are sold out months ahead. Visitors can also purchase joint tickets to ride the open-top buses. Meanwhile the Pier Head Terminal has been renamed after the late Gerry Marsden, whose “Ferry ‘Cross the Mersey” continues to bolster Merseyside’s tourism. Incidentally, the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra has recorded a classic version of this popular piece.
With regard to our annual Dock and River Cruise, a very suitable July date was identified and offered, but we decided earlier in the year that the continuing vicissitudes of Covid, the hesitancy of many older people to be exposed to infection if bad weather crowded the vessel’s saloons, and the absence this year of easy car-parking at Seacombe, were factors which could make the event unviable.
Turning to the fundamental issue of the future of Mersey Ferries, Geoff Holmes’ Newsletter in this mailing reprints some optimistic correspondence I have recently had with Gary Evans, Merseytravel’s Assistant Director for Consumer Delivery, whose responsibilities include the Ferries. You will see that monies remain safeguarded for capital expenditure on vessels – although inflation and national and international economic woes must continue to erode the value of these funds. Nevertheless, you will note that allocated investment by the Liverpool City Region and Government Urban Regeneration for schemes in the Woodside area, including a new landing stage, suggest strong support for the ferry service. This funding, together with that which is being undertaken at Seacombe Terminal, the Eureka Children’s Museum, and the U-boat 235 Exhibition, suggest that a solution to our aging vessels will be found, even if it takes a little longer! We must hope that the vessels meanwhile remain operational in an environment where safety cannot be compromised. There have been a number of service cancellations in recent months.
Elsewhere on the river, the belated new Isle of Man terminal is on course for a 2023 opening, while the hull of the Company’s new vessel, the “Manxman”, has been “launched” into the dock in South Korea, complete with engines and major machinery. The Cruise Liner terminal has a busy year ahead, but there are doubts about agreeing the extension due to the effects of Covid on travel, and the current finances of the Council. However, it is reported that 40 new liners worldwide come into service this year, with 75 on order! Peel Ports state that a further £140 million has been spent enlarging by 30% the Liverpool 2 riverside container terminal, including another 2 giant cranes. In another snippet, we have learnt that the Seacombe stage moorings were disturbed when the Belfast ferry was allowed in a medical emergency to proceed at speed to its Birkenhead 12 Quays Terminal.
Our May AGM was once more postponed because of Covid anxieties – 1 in 35 people are now infected after the Jubilee events. Meanwhile, the present Committee will remain on duty, with my thanks to all of them. Again, special thanks are due to Gordon Ditchfield who has organised our very successful Christmas Draw, and also arranged this mailing! Please renew your subscription for the current year 2022-23 on the form below, and return to Gordon. Our strength is in numbers – we have some 450 members.
Andrew Hodgson, Hon. Chairman
PS You might like to look at a U tube clip prepared by Tim Abraham, a John Moores journalism lecturer, as part of his post-graduate studies.
He got full marks for capturing the atmosphere of his ferry trip! https://youtube.com/watch?v=PpWpiDBJk1Y (lower case k, figure 1, capitalY)