2024 Dock and River Cruise Saturday 22nd June. For details see Future Events section below.

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Friends of the Ferries

Across the Mersey

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


Dear Member,                                                                                                                           November 2016

Although we have had a very reasonable summer, followed by dry and warm weather extending into November, Mersey Ferries has had a miserable time.  This was due to the May closure of the Ship Canal by a fallen bridge, a July accident to the Royal Iris off Eastham Locks requiring five months of repairs, and an October breakdown of the Snowdrop immediately prior to its annual refit.. Consequently, there have been few Canal trips this summer, and no ferry service this Autumn for nearly a month.  Mersey Ferries and Merseytravel have argued in recent years that operations can be maintained with only two vessels – a policy which we have consistently rejected.  We have written to the Chair of Merseytravel, again urging that the Royal Daffodil be brought out of lay-up to provide a back-up facility, funded by revenues generated by off-peak  charter work in our booming tourist and conference market for which she is admirably suited.

Redoubled efforts are required by the marketing department of Mersey Ferries to restore confidence and win back disappointed customers.  An opportunity will arise between 3rd January - 12th February and 30th May - 18th June, when the cross-river Merseyrail system will be shut down.  As Wirral rail service between 13th February - 29th May will only operate 6 car trains at a reduced frequency to James Street platform 2, many passengers may well prefer to continue on the Ferries during this period, too.

Our Cruise this year was very well supported and plenty of shipping movements were observed in both the river and dock system.  In fact, the Gladstone and Langton Locks were so busy that for the first time in about 30 years we were unable to enter Seaforth Dock.  We also passed the new Liverpool 2 container terminal, where a trial docking at the open river quay was taking place.  The £400 million project occupying 50 acres of reclaimed land was completed for a formal opening on 4th November 2016, and can accommodate the largest container ships.  The aim is to attract those vessels with Northern England cargoes now sailing to Felixtowe or Southampton.  We thank our commentators Stuart Wood and Andy Ball who enjoyed their day with us. The provisional date for our 2017 Dock and River Cruise is 27th May 2017.               

On other river news, it was pleasing to see Sir David Attenborough, the naturalist, carry-out the keel-laying ceremony at Cammell Laird on 17th October of the British Antarctic Survey vessel to be named after him. The £200 million vessel (hull no.1390), to be completed in 2019, is reported to be the largest commercial shipbuilding project in the country in 30 years.  More recently, Princess Anne named the container ship Atlantic Sea at the Pier Head Liner Terminal.  Part of the ACL fleet renewal, the ship just fits the Gladstone Lock.  In attendance on the river, with a tootle on her whistle, was the newly restored Ship Canal steam tug Daniel Adamson, captained by Stuart Wood.  She carries 100 passengers and 12 crew.

Please find enclosed our Newsletter by Geoff Holmes, and tickets for our ever-popular Christmas Draw run by Gordon Ditchfield.  Membership receipts or reminders are also enclosed.  Joan Roberts continues to attend local events and fairs with her sales stall - see some items below for Christmas presents!

Very best wishes to you all for Christmas and the New Year!

Yours sincerely,                                                                         

Andrew Hodgson

Hon. Chairman.

Dear Councillor Robinson,

We would like to thank you and Gary Evans for the time you spent with us on 29th December explaining the elements of the Strategy prior to its consideration on 7th January.

We welcome Merseytravel’s initiative in examining holistically the future of the Ferries, and developing a long-term Strategy.

We have had no contact with the Consultants, and at the time of writing we have not been able to see the Consultant’s Report and the range of detailed information therein.

Nevertheless, the Strategy outlined in the Executive Summary contains, in our view, flaws which we request Merseytravel Members to address, and to amend the Strategy accordingly.

Friends of the Ferries across the Mersey

Welcome everybody.  Thank you for attending our 38th AGM!  Our Membership is maintained at about 500 paid-up members.  We need this strength to argue our case with Merseytravel and Mersey Ferries!

Dear Member

Once again our Autumn weather has provided temperatures better than some endured in mid-summer, so I hope everyone has managed at least one recent trip on the Ferries before we have to don our winter woollies. Already, however, we’ve had some typical November fogs which Health and Safety has decreed are too thick for our modern navigation systems to cope with!  There have also been one or two engineering hiccups, according to the Echo, for which there was no substitute vessel.  Meanwhile, we learn that  upgrades of the hydraulics for the rescue craft on the two service ferries improve launch capabilities.

Dear Member,

Despite some cancellations for fog, our short-lived Easter Week “summer” did bring crowds to Snowdrop, now resplendent in its dazzle colours!  Traditionalists may wince, and I think Mersey Ferries were a little concerned initially, but the national publicity (including live broadcasts on BBC Breakfast) outweighs any disadvantages.  Other publicists must be green with envy about the level of   media coverage.  And the Liverpool Biennial will pay for two repaints!  The ferry has an interesting exhibition aboard about WWI dazzle techniques, including a photo of the Mona’s Queen as a troopship. At the official “opening” ceremony, the  Chief Executive of Merseytravel made the point that Mersey Ferries is the most popular paid-for tourist attraction on Merseyside.