Friends of the Ferries across the Mersey

About us

Our organisation was founded over forty 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.

Join Us

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 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 across the Mersey Policy

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. 14th May 2018.

Read more

Letter to Councillor Robinson, Merseytravel

Friends of the Ferries across the Mersey

39 South Parade West Kirby

CH48 0QG

8th November 2016

Councillor Liam Robinson, Chair, Merseytravel,

Mann Island, Liverpool.

Dear Liam,

Mersey Ferries breakdowns, the Royal Daffodil, and Merseyrail Closures

The Friends of the Ferries across the Mersey Committee is alarmed by the recent turn of events, and has asked me to write to you with our views on the present situation.

In recent years, Mersey Ferries and Merseytravel have maintained that two ferry vessels are adequate to operate services, a concept which we have always opposed.

The problems suffered by Mersey Ferries during this summer and autumn highlight the deficiencies of a two vessel fleet.

The Royal Daffodil remains laid-up costing money without contributing to revenue.

We wish to know exactly what problems she has with her engines, and any other issues following dry-docking a few months ago.

As we have said previously, we think she is ideally equipped internally for chartering to the burgeoning Liverpool Conference market, for both “break-out” meetings and leisure trips.  At £1000 per hour, she could earn for example £200,000 per year from forty 5 hour charters.  This type of work would impose minimal strain on her engines.

By accepting charters which avoid the morning and evening peaks, and the Manchester Ship Canal trip-days, the vessel would be available to deputise for the more critical elements of the services if necessary.

With regard to the pressing problem of the 2017 Merseyrail Tunnel closures, we note that Mersey Ferries simply say they will maintain the existing service with a back-up vessel if required.   We have no explanation why the morning and evening peak Woodside commuter service, using the back-up vessel, is not to be restored for the duration of the closures.  There is no word even about restoring an earlier peak hour evening service from the Pier Head to Seacombe after 4pm.

At Hamilton Square there are many rail passengers who park their cars in the vicinity of the station; who arrive on a “kiss and ride” basis; or who travel there by bus.  A peak 20 minute Woodside Ferry service would reduce the demand at Central and Birkenhead North stations for rail replacement buses to Liverpool; reduce tunnel congestion by encouraging car drivers not to take their cars through the tunnel; and would increase bus patronage to Woodside.  In view of the likely problems at James Street Platform 2 during the restricted rail service from February to May, we would suggest that the Woodside Ferry service should operate during this period also. (Should the worst happen, and one vessel breaks down, a basic 30 minute triangular service would operate as in previous years, serving both Seacombe and Woodside). 

A further welcome initiative could include the advance issue of park-and-ride

tickets for the greatly underused bus park at Woodside. (If necessary some buses could lay-over at the bus stands).

Many people will be inconvenienced by the closures, and by the intermediate- period restricted rail service to James Street, including the inevitable and uncomfortable overcrowding, and a congested bus trip through the Tunnel.  A ferry service will minimise discomfort, and may even be quicker for many, (A single boarding point for Mann Island bus services would help those travelling towards Lime Street). The extra funding of an enhanced ferry service would represent a very small proportion of the total scheme costs, while at the same time improving the reputation of both Mersey Ferries and Merseytravel!

As a courtesy, I am copying this letter to Gary Evans, with whom we normally correspond.  We look forward to your response and are happy to attend a meeting to discuss the matter further.

Yours sincerely

Andrew Hodgson

Chairman, Friends of the Ferries across the Mersey.

Click here to see Councillor Robinson's response.