Bridges On The Tyne

- including up and down river services

In addition to the present-day Market Place ferry, two other ferries once ran between North and South Shields, both busy in their time. There were also the ferries which ran up and down the Tyne from Shields calling at various points. Many other ferries connecting different points in North and South Shields have come and gone over the years, operated by small sculler or flat-bottomed boats, but when the age of steam arrived they were soon superceded by steam-powered ferries. The Market Place ferry was the first of these and the Direct and Whitehill Point ferries were soon to join them.

The Tyne Direct Ferry Company was established in 1847 and operated a service between North Shields New Quay to Kirton's Quay west of Mile End Road in South Shields. This was the most easterly of all the Tyne ferries and had the shortest crossing of the three Shields ferries. When the fare was reduced to one halfpenny the ferry acquired the name of The Ha'penny Dodger. The company operating the Market Place ferry sought to halt the new ferry and amalgagmation soon took place (in 1849) with the older company. The ferryboats were much smaller than the Market Place boats and like the Whitehill Point ferry the Direct Ferry was taken over by the TIC in 1863. It ceased running in August 1954.

The Whitehill point ferry began operating in 1856 between Whitehill Point just west of the Tyne Commission Quay and West Holborn and was run by the same company, the Shields Ferry Company that operated the Market Place ferry, but was taken over by the Tyne Improvement Commission (TIC) in 1863, becoming the North and South Shields Ferry Company. New boats and landings were introduced. The precise route of this ferry varied frequently until by the 1920's it ran to the Tyne Commission Quay. It carried fewer passengers than the other two Shields ferries and and was discontuinued in 1941 after air raid damage but recommenced in 1951 but lasted only until September 1952 when it finally stopped running.

In pre-railway days travelling on Tyneside was by road or river. Boat services ran up and down the Tyne ferrying passengers and goods to and from various points and these invariably ran between Shields and Newcastle, calling at various places en route. Services probably existed from at least the early nineteenth century and early ferries ran daily to a regular timetable, with others being available for hire. The Newcastle and Shields Steam Packet Company operated regular services from Newcastle to North Shields using three vessels in 1838. The Port Of Tyne Steam navigbation Company was soon running services in competition and frequency improvements were introduced by the original Company for a time and fare reductions followed. Some thirty years later, a service from Jarrow to South Shields began and the Red Star Line introduced a service from Newcastle to Tynemouth serving intermediate points by crossing diagonally from bank to bank. There were also ferry landings on the two Tyne piers, part of the North landing can still be seen. This prompted opposition from the Shields Ferry Company and a Parliamentary Bill became law in 1862 to set up the Tyne General Ferry Company incorporating Red Star line. This service was very successful and ran from as far up river as Dunston and Elswick from the two Shields. the boats were known as 'Ladies Of The Tyne' having girl's names. The spread of railways and trams reduced passenger numbers and the intensive service up and down the river serving seventeen places was threatened with closure, despite many voices calling for its retention. Efforts to raise money to save it failed and services ended in 1908, the Company being wound up in 1909. Two hundred employees lost their jobs and sixteen boats were laid up. No further river service has operated since then although there have been proposals for its re-introduction.

  Old Shields Ferries Facts

Whitehill Point Ferry 1856 -1852.
Direct Ferry 1847 - 1954.

Whitehill Point - Position: Holborn, South Shields and Tyne Conmmission Quay North Shields.
Grid ref: NZ 355 666

Direct - Position: near Mile End Road , South Shields and New Quay, North Shields.
Grid Ref: NZ 365 683

Landing stages, including the Tyne General Ferry services were at: Ryton, Blaydon, Dunston, Elswick, Newcastle, Ouseburn, St Peters, Felling, Bill Quay, High Walker, Low Walker, Hebburn, Wallsend, Howdon, Jarrow, Northumberland Dock, Tyne Dock, Mill Dam, and North Shields and in summer from North to South Shields.
 The Whitehill Point Ferry

© Bridges On The Tyne 2006