Shields Ferry skipper famed as Sting’s lookalike gets ready to retire

Shields Ferry skipper Chris McGuinness next to the Spirit of the Tyne
8 May 2024

A Shields Ferry skipper who has spent three decades delighting customers with his uncanny resemblance to the music icon Sting is getting ready for a well-deserved retirement. 

Chris McGuinness, who is renowned for being the spitting double of the Wallsend born singer, will bid an emotional farewell to his beloved job on the cross-Tyne ferry service on 1 June after 33 years. 

Chris, 63, of South Shields, who has worked on the Shields Ferry since 1991, will be a big miss to the legion of customers who have got to know him over the years – and been wowed by his incredible likeness to Sting. 

He said: “I’ve loved my time at the Shields Ferry and I’m going to really miss it. It’s been such a big part of my life and an absolute pleasure to work there. 

“The fact I look like Sting is something I’ve had some great fun with too, and it has attracted a lot of attention. It’s something the customers love, and the ones who do realise that I look like him are always fascinated.

“I’ve made great relationships with my colleagues and customers, and many of them I am delighted to call lifelong friends. I’m going to miss them immeasurably, but the time feels right to move on.”

Chris’s likeness to Sting has drawn much media coverage in the past.

He even got to meet him in April 2010 when the singer turned up out of the blue at the Shields Ferry during a visit to North East England to show an American music producer the sights of the River Tyne. 

But it isn’t the only thing which marks Chris out as a brilliant ferry captain. It’s also his knowledge of the river and the vessels, his rapport with customers, and his skill in training new recruits. 

Customers will still get to see Chris from time to time, as he plans to do some holiday cover shifts. 

He said: “Driving a Shields Ferry is the best job in the world, especially on those early summer mornings when you see the sun rising over the River Tyne. I’ve always said to the other crew, ‘you just can’t beat this’.”

“I became a ferry skipper after I used to commute on the service every day and those journeys inspired me to work there. 

“I was working as a traffic warden in North Tyneside. I caught the ferry every day from South Shields and I just had his determined feeling that that the ferry was the job for me. 

“I had a stint checking Metro tickets, and then applied for the ferry crew, which I got, and the rest is history. My entire career path was set.”

He added: “I’ve done Sting lookalike work in the past, too. I was in a lookalikes agency which got me some gigs in London and on the south coast. One was a Quadrophenia tribute. I was even offered some work over in California but at the time work commitments meant I didn’t go. 

“When the real Sting hired the Shields Ferry in 2010 I thought it was a wind up at first. He was great. He said I looked like his brother, and I said ‘get away, I look like you, man’. It’s a great memory for me.” 

Kevin Leonard, Customer Service Operations Manager, said: “Chris is a legend at the Shields Ferry and he’s going to be a big miss.

“He’s given outstanding service. His knowledge of the River Tyne and the ferries is second to none. Chris has got a brilliant rapport with people and he’s been so good at training new members of the ferry team.

“His uncanny likeness to Sting has been the source of much merriment and fascination over the years. He takes it all in good humour, which is a measure of what a brilliant guy he is. 

“We wish him all the best for his retirement.” 

Chris plans to spend more time with his wife, Roz, and their golden retriever Rannoch. They have a VW camper van and they plan to tour the UK in it. 


Chris McGuinness - Ferry Skipper

© 2024 Nexus Tyne and Wear - Public Transport and Local Information.