Shields Ferry still going strong

shields ferry
10 February 2012

Nexus, which owns and operates the Shields Ferry, say that passenger numbers on the daily cross-Tyne service have been unaffected since the opening of the second Tyne Tunnel.

Since the new tunnel was opened in November of last year Nexus has recorded a zero percent fall in the number of people using the Shields Ferry crossing.

A survey carried out by Nexus has found that only two percent of ferry passengers thought their use of the service would change as a result of the second Tyne Tunnel’s opening.

The Shields Ferry, which links North Shields with South Shields, carries 500,000 people a year and passenger numbers have been increasing since 2008.

Nexus owns and operates two ferries – Pride of the Tyne and Spirit of the Tyne – with crossings taking just seven minutes.

The opening of the first Tyne Tunnel in 1967 led to a huge reduction in ferry traffic. Before it opened 400,000 cars a year still crossed the Tyne by boat.

The Tyne Tunnel also caused the closure of the ‘Mid Tyne’ passenger ferry between Jarrow and Howdon – it was this ferry which featured in a shoot-out in the film Get Carter.

Nexus, formerly the Tyne and Wear Passenger Transport Executive, took over the Shields Ferry in 1972.

Shields Ferry Manager, Carol Timlin, said: “The ferry service is going from strength to strength and has not suffered a fall in passenger numbers as a result of the second Tyne Tunnel’s opening in November of last year.

“The ferry remains a popular service with commuters and the increasing number of visitors to the region every year. We also get many booking for the private hire of the ferry and we use it every year to run for summer river cruises.

“The records show that the former Tyne car ferry service did suffer in 1967 when the original Tyne Tunnel was opened up. So far we have not seen a similar drop off in pedestrian usage as a result of the new tunnel.

“The ferry is a vital link between the centres of North and South Shields people who work in the respective town centres. A river crossing is a great way to get to work and many passengers tell the crew they much prefer it to using the car.

“There’s no doubt the new Tyne Tunnel has helped to ease congestion, which is a good thing, but the Shields Ferry service still has a vital role to play.”

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.

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