Ferry history

A black and white image of the old Northumbrian ferry

Historic information
 

1377

Historical documents indicate that there was a ferry service operating between North and South Shields this long ago.

1816

A steam packet operated between North and South Shields.

1828

The North Shields Ferry Company obtained a charter to operate the ferry service that exists today. Their first three ferry boats were: Baron Newcastle, Durham and Northumberland. The Baron Newcastle was eventually replaced by Tyne.

1847

The Tyne Direct Ferry Company began a ferry service with a ferry called Percy.

1856

The Whitehill Point Ferry started up with a ferry called Favourite.

1862 to 1908

The paddle steamers of the Tyne General Ferry Company provided a passenger service between Elswick and South Shields, stopping 21 times in as many miles. The company went into liquidation as a result of competition from the faster electric trams.

1863

The Tyne Improvement Commission bought The North Shields Ferry Company, The Tyne Direct Ferry Company and The Whitehill Point Ferry and took over their ferry boats. 13 ferries were built to the Tyne Improvement Commission's specification: Shields (1868), Tyne (1869), Tynemouth (1883), J B Proctor (1890), Northumberland and Collingwood (both 1896), George Armstrong (1904), Thomas Richardson and U A Ritson (both 1906), South Shields (1911), Durham and Tynemouth (both 1925) and Northumbrian (1929).

1929

At this point there were 11 ferry routes across the Tyne between Newburn and the mouth of the river.

1967

The Tyne Tunnel was opened, resulting in a huge reduction in ferry traffic. Before it was opened, the three ferry boats then in operation - South Shields, Tynemouth and Northumbrian - carried about 400,000 cars each year, as well as countless pedestrians. The Tyne Tunnel also caused the ferry between Jarrow and Howdon to be discontinued.

1972

The service known as the Market Place Ferry, the only service which survives today, was taken over by Nexus (formerly Tyne and Wear Passenger Transport Executive). The Freda Cunningham was built to their order in 1972.

1976

The Shieldsman was built.

1993

The Pride of the Tyne was built, and the Freda Cunningham was taken out of service and sold.

2007

The Spirit of the Tyne was built, and the Shieldsman was taken out of service after the Great North Run.

2009

The Shieldsman was sold.

Today's ferries

Click here to find out about the Features of the two ferries which operate our passenger service today.

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