Farewell to the ferry: Passengers take final trips on outgoing boats

PUBLISHED: 15:53 05 October 2018 | UPDATED: 16:04 05 October 2018

The Woolwich Ferry. Picture: Ken Mears

The Woolwich Ferry. Picture: Ken Mears


Passengers are saying goodbye to the Woolwich Ferries today as they take their last trips across the Thames.

The final day of the old Woolwich Ferry boats. Picture: Luke ActonThe final day of the old Woolwich Ferry boats. Picture: Luke Acton

The boats are being replaced in December with new vessels that have more space and less-polluting hybrid engines.

One of the people that keeps the service running is retiring with the craft.

David Noakes, 66, has been working on the ferry for six years, but has been on the water for half a century.

Asked about his feelings on leaving, he said: “It’s just the time to go.

Ray Richardson and his dog take a trip on the Woolwich Ferry Picture: Luke ActonRay Richardson and his dog take a trip on the Woolwich Ferry Picture: Luke Acton

“I’ll come back when the new boats come, just to make sure they’re alright. To check them all over.”

Artist Ray Richardson has being riding the ferry since he was a boy.

Growing up in Woolwich, he took rode them because there was not much else to do.

“If we weren’t playing football in school we’d just be on Woolwich Ferry just going back and forward, because it was free, running around, having a laugh,” he said.

The final day of the old Woolwich Ferry boats. Picture: Luke ActonThe final day of the old Woolwich Ferry boats. Picture: Luke Acton

Mr Richardson has previously painted the ferries, with one picture of them currently featuring in the ‘Made in London’ exhibition at Mayfair’s Beaux Gallery.

Woolwich resident Mick Sutton, 72, remembers the steamers that used to provide the service.

“They were lovely old things,” he said. “I didn’t like these when they did away with the paddle steamers. Nobody did, I don’t think.

“You just get used to the new ones, I suppose. Memory fades away of the old steamers.”

The new Woolwich ferry. Picture: TfLThe new Woolwich ferry. Picture: TfL

A ferry service has been run in Woolwich since 1308, before the construction of any tunnel or river to cross the Thames.

There will be no ferries until the new year while new berths are built for the larger boats, which will provide space for cyclists and disability access.

They are also expected to be much greener, exceeding legal pollution performance by 90pc for particulate matter and 70pc for nitrous dioxide.

The outgoing boats have been in service for 55 years and will take their last trips at 8pm today (Friday).

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