Nexus is celebrating 40 years of owning and operating the cross-Tyne Shields Ferry service.
Nexus took over the Shields Ferry in May 1972 after new legislation allowed passenger transport executives to carry passengers on inland waterways.
The Shields Ferry, which links the towns of North Shields with South Shields, carries 500,000 people a year and passenger numbers have been increasing since 2008.
Nexus currently owns and operates two ferries – Pride of the Tyne and Spirit of the Tyne – with crossings taking just seven minutes.
The ferry service had originally been known as the Market Place Ferry, but became known as the Shields Ferry Service after the takeover.
Nexus, which was known as the Tyne Wear PTE up until 1996, has spent millions of pounds over the last 40 years to keep the Shields Ferry running. Investments include two new vessels and revamped passenger landings and waiting areas.
The Freda Cunningham was replaced by the Pride of the Tyne in 1993 at a cost of £1.5m. The Pride was built at the Swan Hunter shipyard in Wallsend. In 2007 Nexus paid £1.9m to replace The Shieldsman with The Spirit of the Tyne.
Shields Ferry Manager, Carol Timlin, said: “We’re delighted to mark 40 years of operating the Shields Ferry. It’s a fantastic landmark for us to reach.
“The cross-Tyne service is a vital part of everyday life in this area and has served the communities of North and South Shields for many years. People love travelling on the ferry. It’s iconic.
“Over the last 40 years we’ve seen a lot of changes, what with the transformed ferry landings and the two new ferries that have entered service.
“We’ve seen huge changes on the River Tyne as well, but the ferry has always been there. We carry people to places of work, people use it for going shopping and we see more and more tourists on board every passing year.
“We’ve also had our fair share of VIPs and film companies on board. Princess Anne visited in 2007 and more recently we had a private visit from Sting, who hired the ferry to show a friend from New York the sites of the River Tyne.”
Ferry services between North Shields and South Shields have operated since at least 1377, according to documents from the time.
Between 1862 and 1908 paddle steamers from the Tyne General Ferry Company ran a passenger service with 21 stops between Elswick and South Shields.
As late as 1929 there were 11 ferry routes across the Tyne between Newburn and the mouth of the river.