2024 Dock and River Cruise Saturday 22nd June - CANCELLED DUE TO VESSEL MAINTENANCE

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Chair's Letter November 2022

Friends of the Ferries

Across the Mersey

c/o 7 Foxcovers Road, Bebington, Wirral, CH63 3EQ



Dear Member, November 2022


Weatherwise, we have all had a good run for our money this summer, with ferry passengers returning to pre-Covid levels, reflecting the sunshine and warm temperatures which we have been enjoying. The prospect for the future of the Ferries remains encouraging as Gary Evans (Assistant Director for Customer Delivery at Merseytravel) explains in his reprinted November letter on the reverse of this sheet. There is undoubted support by elected members for progressing further planned improvements whenever Liverpool City Region and Mersey Ferries Press Releases are issued.

At Seacombe, two major parts of the jigsaw are now in place with the re-opening of the extensively refurbished terminal and stage on 17th October, and the imminent opening of the £12m Eureka! Exhibition for young people on the 11th November in the terminal complex. The latter, covering science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics, should also bring more passengers to the Ferries, although the entrance fee of £15.95 for people over age 2 years seems rather steep. However, it is valid for one year. Free parking for ferry passengers with season and multi-trip tickets will continue to be available.

At Woodside, the prompt closure this November for the proposed refurbishment or renewal of the stage planned to start within the next 6 months is disappointing. However, the City Region is already discussing a detailed feasibility study with Balfour Beatty to use awarded levelling up funds. This is a fixed amount in a climate of rising costs! It will also be interesting to see what proposals emerge at Woodside from “Big Heritage” (now operators of the U boat Exhibition, as well as the Liverpool Western Approaches WWII Atlantic Convoys Museum). In addition, you will see from the correspondence that I am endeavoring to retain one of the Woodside gangways as a static artifact, hopefully with a soundtrack of its operation!

Nevertheless, the most significant issue now – that of the ferry vessels themselves - is yet to be resolved, although discussions are ongoing and an announcement will be made “in the coming months” following further reviews, at which time we will be notified by Gary Evans.

Elsewhere on the river, Cammell Laird are quite busy, with work just commencing on the Heysham - I.o.M. freight/passenger ferry Ben-my-Chree, the Western Isles Calmac ferry Loch Seaforth, the destroyer HMS Daring, and Fred Olsen’s cruise liner Borearlis, which now fills the dry dock next to the Priory’s St. Mary’s Tower. The liner has regularly sailed from Liverpool this year. Decisions on a new Cruise Terminal remain in abeyance until next year or later while everyone takes stock of the recovery from Covid and the current financial crisis. Meanwhile, some cruise prices seem quite cheap! At Seaforth, it is reported that positive moves to resolve the pay dispute have taken place - worries exist that some container companies might decamp to other ports if the situation continues.

With this mailing, please find Geoff Holmes’ Newsletter, and our Christmas Draw tickets organized by Gordon Ditchfield, together with subscription reminders or receipts. We anticipate holding an AGM in the middle of next year, and have penciled in with Mersey Ferries Saturday 2nd September 2023 for a Dock & River Cruise. Best wishes to you all for Christmas and the New Year!

Yours sincerely,

Andrew Hodgson