Sunday, August 06, 2017

The Ferries of London: Woolwich Ferry

The Woolwich ferry is a different beast from all the others. Not just a skiff with the word "Ferry" on the side it is a proper ship which can take cars and lorries across the Thames. There has been a ferry at this spot for around 700 years, though the current service is more recent.

From the TFL web site:


The Woolwich Ferry links Woolwich and North Woolwich. It runs every 5-10 minutes throughout the day, from Monday to Friday and every 15 minutes on Saturdays and Sundays. It carries pedestrians, cyclists, cars, vans and lorries.


Free to pedestrians thanks an Act of Parliament from 1889

Inside there's a faded sixties feel, now almost empty apart from a handful like me:

There was even a smoking room, now labelled as non-smoking:

It was threatened with closure due to the planned new river crossings but there was a successful petition to keep it and now two new boats are being built as the current ones are at the end of their life.
To get there I took the tube / DLR to Woolwich and then walked, slightly indirect route to go through the Woolwich Arsenal, about 1.4 km:
For the return journey I could have taken the short walk to King George V DLR station but instead decided to go back using wonderfully atmospheric Woolwich Foot Tunnel (below) with return journey 1.9 km:

The DLR extension to Woolwich is probably why both the tunnel and ferry were pretty empty of pedestrians.

Fun fact of the day: for a long time the north end of the ferry, North Woolwich, was actually part of Kent! This was visible in the map at the Abbey Mills Pumping Station as in this blog post, with extract below (check the broad green line):

There is also a Bazalgette link to the Woolwich Ferry, as he led the design and construction of the first ferries.

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