THE SUNDERLAND SITE - PAGE 008
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Now data about the ferries of Sunderland is not particularly easy to locate. Especially when you live far away in North America. Gillian Cookson long since wrote & made widely available a 7 page 'pdf' detailed article about the ferries - now available here. What follows will surely be incomplete & probably will be inexact. So corrections, however small, are invited. This 'Ferries' section is a best efforts, if you will, at assembling information about the ferries which were the sole means by which you could cross the River Wear at Sunderland for a great many centuries, until the first road bridge, the iron bridge, was built in 1795. And the use of ferries did not end then, rather they were in use for about another two centuries until the middle of the 20th century.
A long history indeed.
But let us start with some words from Len Charlton, now departed, alas.
Evidence of human life along the river Wear from some 4000 years ago includes the remains of a canoe hewed from solid wood. Those remains were found on the river bed near Hylton & are now in the Sunderland Museum. Although a source of food and water, the Wear has, from those earliest days, hindered movement. The depth of the water varies according to the river shape & rainfall & the lower few miles are tidal. But the river could often be crossed by wading or using the numerous fords built up over the years. By 1700, these fords had largely been lost, & small boats were being put to use as ferries, rowed or sculled with a single oar. Where there was a need to carry a cart or a carriage, larger specialised flat bottomed boats were developed. Too big to row or to scull, these would either be poled across or the boatman would pull the ferry along either under a suspended rope or over a chain dropped on the river bottom (see Hylton Ferry later). These ferries required hard slipways whereas passenger ferries often used gangways of planks - sometimes run quite precariously over moored boats.
The transport of horses & animals was commonplace & although this was no problem with the large cart ferries, a single animal or two was often pushed onto small ferries along with passengers. There is record of a 'larger' Sunderland ferry, c.1750, 'with a capacity of four horses'. Transporting frightened animals in a small boat with standing passengers invited disaster, of course, & stories of loss of life abound. In 1756, a ferry carrying many passengers & a horse capsized with several drownings, & when ferries grew larger so did the death toll. 22 people were drowned in a single accident in 1795. A happier episode occurred that same year when a ferry, carrying officers & their mounts from the barracks, sank in mid-stream forcing the men to ride to safety. Perhaps they were en-route to a gallop along Roker beach but found themselves galloping along the river bottom instead!
Accidents of this nature were given as one reason for Wearmouth Bridge, which was built by Roland Burdon in 1796, but although the nearby Pann's Ferry then closed from lack of business, the Sunderland Ferry further downstream remained very popular even when bridge tolls were removed. It was a far more convenient connection between old Sunderland's markets & docks on the south of the river and Monkwearmouth & Roker on the north, & the locals remained loyal to 'their ferry'. With fares of 1/2p per adult & 1p per animal they had good reason to be loyal. Particularly when, after a number of earlier steam trials, the first successful steam ferry, the 'Wear', started c.1842. The East-Enders loyalty remained solid until 1957 when the old steamer 'W. F. Vint' made the very last crossing of the very last Wear ferry, mourned by over a thousand spectators. It was still charging a halfpenny each way.
For some 200 years maps had shown river crossings but maps leave much untold & we hope that the text and images which follow can fill in some details & illustrate the rich pattern of life behind the lines marked '-----ferry----'.
How many ferries were there? Even how many there were is a subject of some confusion, to the webmaster at least. There would have seem to have been at least the following, listed in an east to west sequence as best I can starting from the mouth of River Wear. And in reality there were quite a few more since I can see them all marked on the 1895 Ordnance Survey Maps. But we advance & this page advances, a step at a time:
Ran from a slipway at the East end of the wharf which was later called the Commissioners' Quay to Sand Point Road at the east end of the North Sands Shipbuilding Yard.
Ran from Custom House Quay to Strand Street at the west end of the North Sands Shipbuilding Yard.
Sunderland Ferry or High Ferry
Ran from Bodlewell steps at the foot of Bodlewell Lane, Bishopwearmouth, across the river to Monkwearmouth.
Predecessor to Sunderland Ferry
Ran roughly where the High or Sunderland Ferry later ran.
Ran across the river from Panns Bank, just downstream from the road bridge. The 1895 Ordnance Survey map shows 'Panns Bank' & also 'Pann Ferry Road' leading down to the river. But shows no ferry, it presumably being long gone by 1895.
c.1750-1905. A large 'carriage carrying' ferry running between west Southwick & the Deptford bank.
Ran across River Wear from South Hylton to North Hylton.
Ran across River Wear from Coxgreen to Washington Staithes.
Data about this ferry is very limited - even, to the webmaster at least, its very name! But it would seem to have run from a slipway at the east end of Commissioners' Quay (which quay may in the early 1800s have been named Thornhill's Wharf - see here in that regard). It would seem to have crossed the river to Sand Point Road at the east end of the North Sands Shipbuilding Yard. A ferry at that location shows on the 1895 Ordnance Survey Map but is unnamed.
Such data mainly comes from an interesting exchange of messages on RootsWeb.com, which messages include one from Tessa Gaines, who tells us 'As children we would swim across to save the ha'penny it cost for the ferry.' That was in the 1930s, so we know the ferry was there until at least that period. A scary swim that must have been because the river would have been a hive of shipping activity at the time (though probably not scary at all to a young and adventurous child). A swim of a few hundred yards, most probably. And Jane Brook remembers 'boys swimming across the river, the girls never did, that was not from the ferry stage, though but instead from a point, I guess, about halfway between there and the Corporation Quay, an area that must have been, I think, bombed during the Second World War, at any rate it was waste ground at that time'.
Stan Mapstone tells us that a gentleman named John Hardcastle was, in 1827, a shipbuilder on Thornhill's Wharf and he must have had a slipway since the message sequence started with an enquiry about Hardcastle's Slip. The first message of the message sequence is here.
The webmaster may be quite wrong to place the image that follows at this spot on the page. If so, can somebody better advise. The token, of brass, 1 1/2 in. in diameter, was an e-Bay item which did not sell on Feb. 02, 2012. We thank vendor 'maplevillage' for these fine images. The item did not sell, so I invite you to contact the vendor via his store here. The item was described, in part, as 'Antique ... River Wear Commission uniface brass pass token, circa 1900. Front reads: River Wear Commission - S.S. Co. L. Reverse reads: Pass No. 815*. Measures 39 mm or 1 1/2" in diameter and weighs 13.1 grams. The world "Wear" is rubbed.' Peter Kraneveld has kindly brought to my attention this page which seeks to establish the meaning of the 'S.S.Co.L.' inscription.
It would seem that from 1761 the "ferry-boats' passage, metage, and tolls of herbs, fruit and roots" were leased to Walter Ettrick, Esq. or his representatives, by William Lambton, who had in turn acquired the rights from the 'Bishops of Durham'. It seems likely therefore that Custom House Quay is located where Ettrick's Quay used to be. Indeed, you can see exactly where Ettrick's Quay was, in the very late 1700s, on the James Rain map referred to here & visible here - at the top, N. of the fish market.
The webmaster is not clear as to the importance of this particular ferry compared, perhaps to any other then ferries. But 'Ettrick' & his ferries were of considerable importance. The lease of the ferry boats was, in 1795, purchased by the commissioners of the Iron Bridge, known as the 'Monkwearmouth Bridge', relative to their even building that iron bridge across the Wear. For those perpetual rights, the commissioners paid £6,300 of which sum Ettrick, described as Rev. W. Ettrick, received the major share i.e. £4,500. So 'Ettrick' was not a working ferryman as I had naively supposed. Rather Ettrick was a member of the then church who presumably had acquired the ferry etc. rights back in 1761 & over the years engaged whomever he wished to provide the actual ferry service. It would seem that by a separate agreement, the Commissioners also acquired the rights to the Pan ferry-boat, for £1,600 split 50/50 by Gen. John Lambton & Sir Hedworth Williamson. It would seem that the Ettrick's Ferry was by far of the greater importance.
How do I know all this? James Burnett wrote a history of Sunderland in 1830, entitled 'History of the Town and Port of Sunderland and the Parishes of Bishopwearmouth and Monkwearmouth'. That whole volume can be viewed and/or downloaded via this link. (I must say that I appreciate greatly Google's programme to make such ancient volumes freely available. Bravo, I say!) The relevant pages are 7 through 10, which pages I have 'assembled' into a single image where all the Ettrick ferry relevant text of those pages can be read. Available here.
Can you add any data on this most interesting of subjects?
It would appear that this ferry, which crossed River Wear from (in the south) the steps at the bottom of Bodlewell (sometimes Boddlewell) Lane, to Monkwearmouth for almost 250 years, was established by an Act of Parliament in 1710. Passage was by rowing boat, though service may later have been provided by a steam powered vessel which 'were tried on this route without a great deal of success. The crossing was, eventually, faithfully served by "Wear" which made the four minute journey regularly for many decades until the closure of the service in 1957.' Those words came from a now long gone web page at, I believe, the University at Newcastle. Gone due to cutbacks, I presume.
At left is a section of a map by James Rain & published in 1785, or maybe in the period of 1785/1790. Known as Rain's 'Eye Plan'. I did understand that the original is in the Tyne & Wear Museum, but now understand that the original is, in fact, lost. What I show is but a tiny section of the entire map, the section which shows Sunderland Ferry (a rowboat at that time). The horizontal street at the bottom of the image is Sunderland High Street & the one above that is Low Street.
The webmaster was interested however to read some text about the ferry at Bodlewell, in Chapter IX of 'The Dress Lodger' by Sheri Holman. The story is set in the east end of Sunderland in the early 1830s, & refers to a hand-cranked, chain-operated, flat-bottomed ferry at that point in time.
I think it likely that one could buy tokens for the short ferry passage, tokens which simply said 'Ferry Token' on one side, with a coat of arms on the other side, presumably of the City of Sunderland. Almost an inch in diameter. Of copper or maybe bronze. Can anyone confirm that is so?
There also were smaller tokens used in Sunderland, tokens which were used by City employees to permit them free travel on Sunderland business, on the buses, ferries, etc. Not related to the paying passenger ferry tokens.
It is my belief that the image at right is likely of an 'employee' type token. An eBay item that sold on Nov. 5, 2012, for GBP 51.00 or U.S. $81.80. The vendor did not indicate the size of the token, nor show an image of the other side of the token.
We thank a kindly site visitor for the following image of the 'Wear', the steam powered ferry boat referred to above. It was built, I am advised, in 1885. Another image would be most welcome.
There were passenger ferry tokens & one face of one of them is shown at right.
Jane Brook has kindly written in to say that she does not remember the 'Wear' but does remember ferries named 'Sir Walter Raine' & 'W. F. Vint'. Tom Dack (1933/ ) watercolours of 'W. F. Vint' & 'Sir Walter Raine' are next. Tom advises that the images were both used as placemats. Thank you Tom! And thank you Jane, also!
If any site visitor has in their possession some photographs of the above Sunderland ferries, indeed photographs of any Sunderland ferry, do consider providing them to the webmaster for inclusion here.
Thanks to the old 'Sunderland Tugs and Shipbuilding in pictures' site on 'Facebook', here is an image of Sir Walter Raine.
And, thanks to a site visitor, an image of Sir Walter Raine said to date from 1934. I think that the image was originally ex Sunderland Echo & may have appeared in 'Canny Aad Sunlun ... a collection of images from that source.
More about the W. F. Vint, & the meaning of the name, is here.
Jane also remembers, as a child - 'on the ferries there was passenger seating around the central part of the deck, which was open and one could look down at the engineman working away in what was, to a child, a wonderful mélange of brass, heat, smells of oil and polished wood and of pistons thundering away'.
As stated above, by a separate agreement, the Commissioners re the Iron Bridge acquired, in 1792 or thereabouts, the rights to the Pan ferry-boat, for £1,600 split 50/50 by Gen. John Lambton & Sir Hedworth Williamson. As you can read in the right column here.
Service was, in 1870, certainly by rowing boat. How do I know that? A postcard dated 1870 by 'Flintoff' was sold via eBay in January 2007. The listing image is at left. The words under the image read, I believe, 'BODLEWELL FERRY, SUNDERLAND'.
Bodlewell or Boddlewell Lane? A Sunderland Echo article, which was available only in a Yahoo cache but has now gone from that source also, referred to a street named 'Boddlewell Lane'. Now I have available to me some 1895 Ordnance Survey Maps of Sunderland & while I cannot find 'Boddlewell Lane' on those maps, I can find Flag Lane which was mentioned in the article also. And a bit to the north of Flag Lane & High Street is a ferry. At Wylam Wharf & Sunderland Brewery. Which ran straight across to a landing on the north bank. This surely must be 'Sunderland Ferry'.
It may be helpful to know that a 'bodle' was, I learn, a Scottish coin worth half a farthing. And that the name originates with 'Bodle Well', a public well where you could buy water.
A 'bodle' would, I read, have bought you (not quite sure exactly when) a 'skeel' or about 4 gallons of water.
The well was removed in 1938. That interesting data came from page 51 of the 2003-2004 Annual Report of the 'Tyne & Wear Specialist Conservation Team' who conducted excavations in the High Street East area of the city (a very large 'pdf' file of that report used to be WWW available, but no longer, it would seem).
But I have also read that the coin was called a 'boddle' also. And also a 'bodwell', & a 'half groat' & a 'Turner'. It gets confusing! A Scottish copper coin, of less value than a 'bawbee', worth about one-sixth of an English penny, first issued under Charles II. But it is only 'bodle' and 'boddle' which are relevant re this page.
Bodlewell (or Boddlewell) Lane led up to a most important area in the life of Sunderland - the market. At High Street East. There was a market there every Saturday from 1830 until after WW2. Vegetables & meats & everything else you could imagine was for sale at stalls both in High Street & in the adjoining streets. Until very late at night. Jane Brook remembers ... 'there was a very old market, almost unused by that time (WW2), on the High Street, set back from the street in a kind of dilapidated arcade. I can remember a butcher's named Graters, run by brothers, rather in appearance like Laurel and Hardy, they were called Louis and Henry. There was a wonderful grocer's shop, named (I believe) John Chapman with sacks of dry food, rice, beans, things like that. Also a greengrocer named Fred Redman and a newsagent named Olwen Perry. And a cinema, the Gaiety, a truly dreadful place!'
The Tyne and Wear Museum has an image of the Bodlewell Lane Ferry landing, an image that originates, it would seem, with the River Wear Commissioners & was taken on February 28, 1884. These are the words they used (thanks so much!) to describe the image:
'This photograph shows Bodlewell Lane Ferry landing in Sunderland in 1884. The landing was squeezed between Fenwick's Wharf and Wylam Wharf. The ferry was known as Sunderland Ferry or the High Ferry. It linked Sunderland and Monkwearmouth and was first operated with rowing boats and then with steam vessels. The last ferry remained in service until 1957.
The narrow street beyond the steps is Bodlewell Lane, which led to Low Street.'
Brian Hubbard of the 'Friends of Sunderland Old Parish Church', a Sunderland history group, advises me that the building at the left of the image just above is Fenwick's Brewery.
The building with the 6 light coloured windows, and what look like steps down to the river, I believe. And that parts of its riverside foundations remain to this very day. Brian, we thank you!
Whylam Wharf? What must be a most recent image is available on the bottom of page 61 of the 'Tyne & Wear Specialist Conservation Team' 2003-2004 report referenced above. That 'pdf' file was a giant file to access, so I provide the image here. I trust that making that image available via this non-profit & informational site is in order. Which comment also applies to the photograph immediately above.
It would seem, that when the iron bridge was built in 1796, the 'Sunderland' ferry & the 'Pann' ferry were 'purchased' - as you can see in the table located about 45% down on this page - for £6,300 & £1,600 respectively plus related legal costs. That would not seem to mean that the ferries ceased to operate however. Maybe just that the previous owners received some compensation when the bridge (which affected their livelihoods), was constructed.
Rod Gair advises (thanks!) that 'swimming between the ferry landing steps was a 'right of passage' for boys and I well remember doing my swim when the river was in full flood and the return trip was almost too much for me. I was never so relieved as when I reached those steps!' The swim that Ron refers to was between 'the ferry pontoon on the south side & the steps at the bottom of Hudleston Street on the north side'. And back again.
Before I leave the subject of the Sunderland Ferry, I have learned that the image that became the 'Flintoff' postcard as shown above, was published in 'The Graphic' in its February 3, 1883 edition. Brian Hubbard has kindly provided an image of it & it follows next on this page. The image was also, I know, published as a bookplate with a coloured image of High Street on its rear. I know because I have that page somewhere. I will try to locate it because the image of High Street was most interesting. But the name of the book escapes me as I update this page.
Now my routine practice, in presenting images on this site, is to reduce the image size such that the entire image can be viewed without the necessity of scrolling. But the next image is so splendid that I have chosen not to do that. You will need to scroll a long way indeed to view it all but the image is so wonderful that it surely deserves presentation in full detail. The image is a section of a page from 'The Graphic' of Feb. 3, 1883. We thank so very much Brian Hubbard who provided it. Enjoy!
There was a kind of watchman's house on the right of the steps ... for the person responsible for the ferries and the quay at night.
As this page was amended in Apl. 2013, a postcard, published by 'photochrom co', of Tunbridge Wells, was sold via eBay. The postcard would seem to be a reprint of 'Flintoff postcard N918 Sunderland'. It refers, along the card bottom, to 'Bodlewell Lane near High St. Quayside'. As you can read at left.
Now I had seen the image before, in my WWW travels, but had not understood that the old houses depicted were, in fact, on Bodlewell Lane, in Sunderland.
We are pleased to be able to next present a large version of the image, entitled 'Old Houses near High Street'. We thank Sunderland Libraries for the image, which appears, in a number of sizes, here in their Flickr collection of Sunderland images. Reproduced, clearly, from a newspaper, magazine or other publication, likely from the 1870s.
Panns was an area of Sunderland on the south bank of the river at the top of Low St. which had once been used for salt panning. Just to the east of the road bridge. In the 1700s, this stretch of bank was home for block yards, glass works & Molly Linton's Quay from which Pann's ferry ran across to the north bank. During its life there were many complaints that the small boats being used were breaking regulations by carrying livestock with the passengers who it was said ‘were afraid of going in the boat when the horse was unruly’ & who were only too keen to have a bridge built. However, when eventually Wearmouth Bridge was built in 1796, the ferry which ran close to the bridge lost business & was closed.
At left above is a section of Rain's 'Eye Plan', with the location of the later road bridge added so that a modern reader can 'get their bearings'.
It seems ironic that the ferry's busiest time was carrying the workers & horses to build the bridge which sealed its fate. (Thanks Len Charlton for the above).
This is probably a good place to reference the meaning of the term 'Panns', thanks to Robert Moon, of the Friends of Old Sunderland Parish Church, in his volume 'The Sundered-Land. The Story of a Seaport and its Township'. Robert reminds us that salt has been a necessity of life, since time immemorial, needed to preserve foodstuffs. More so perhaps before refrigeration became possible. Salt was being produced at the Panns area from the 16th century onwards - the area being named for the giant open air 'pans' in which seawater was continuously boiled until the water had all evaporated & only the salt residue was left. And giant is the operative word. Robert tells us that the pans were over 20 feet across & 6 feet deep & that there were many of them on the Pann Field. Fired, I would suppose, with the abundant local coal. Take a moment & give a thought to what the scene must have looked like when those fires were all a-burning.
SOUTHWICK FERRY (c. 1750- c. 1910)
This ferry started c. 1750, much later than the Hylton ferry. There was, by this date, a growing amount of traffic between Newcastle & South Shields & the developing new town of Sunderland, traffic which had previously used the Hylton Ferry. But this much shorter route via Southwick was very welcome. The river banks on both sides were both flat & open and from the south bank a road ran down to join the road from the Hylton Ferry to Bishopwearmouth Village & then on to Crowtree Rd. Here was one of the town's favourite coaching Inns 'The Peacock' (now a smart modern pub called 'The Londonderry').
An 1875 map shows that there was a large slipway adjacent to the north end of the (built later) Queen Alexandra Bridge from which two divergent routes ran across to the Deptford bank. Another separate route is marked further eastwards towards Ayres Quay & it is known that there was then both a 'Low Ferry' and a 'High Ferry' running between Deptford & Southwick. Both closed c. 1910 after the Queen Alexandra Bridge was built. (Thanks Len Charlton for the above).
Good images of 'The Londonderry' seem to be scarce. At left are a couple of recent images, thanks to 'Flickr' contributors (1 & 2). Also 3. It does not look like a coaching inn, however!
The webmaster has never met Len Charlton, whose fine articles about Sunderland are throughout these pages. Nor do I think I have ever seen a photograph of him, though his wife would tell you he is a fine looking fellow indeed.
Yours truly? Folks have said over the years that I look, (good or bad!) a bit like Prince Charles.
When Len's above text arrived for inclusion on this page, I suggested to Len that some day we should meet at last & hoist a pint at 'The Londonderry'. So someday, if you happen to be in 'The Londonderry' & see Prince Charles sitting in the corner admiring the architecture, with a row of empty glasses in front of him on the table, it will probably just be the webmaster. Len will be the other good-looker, busy writing notes for his next article, or more likely buying the next round.
The 'EAST-DURHAM.co.uk' local history project web site used to include an image of the 'Londonderry', perhaps in the 1920s. I cannot spot it there today.
Andy Dennis advised that Ford is on the south bank of the River Wear about a mile to the west of the Queen Alexandra Bridge. The name presumably derives from an early river crossing since at low tide the river is quite shallow there. A little further to the west is South Hylton, and Ford and South Hylton are essentially one community today.
A beautiful image indeed! A portion only of an eBay item in Apl. 2012, a photograph that sold for GBP 4.99 or approximately U.S. $8.04. Taken from the N. bank & looking over to the 'Golden Lion'. A larger version of the photograph portion, can be seen here. Dates from 1910, it would seem.
Joanna Hammond believes that the derrick and boats in the yard (on the far bank at left just to the right of the 'Golden Lion' at the extreme left or partially so) are, in all probability, the yard that William Potts (the Elder) owned & which Edward Potts sold (possibly to the Gales?) when his mother died in 1812.
Here, next, is the old Hylton Ferry in two very old images. Looking, I believe east in both cases. Do please advise me if my 'directions' are incorrect. Both images came via a BBC site (this is the image at right, the left image I cannot find at BBC again!) but originate with the South Hylton Local History Society, whom I sincerely thank. The image at left, of the 'chain ferry' which ceased to operate in 1915, is by Sep Collins. Now Sep Collins (1878/1925) who died of pneumonia, was, I am advised (by Douglas Scrafton of the South Hylton Local History Society), a local photographer, who was lamed as a young man in one of the forges and became a barber. He clearly was a very fine photographer also as we can see. Alas, Douglas advises, few of Sep's glass plates have survived. Douglas kindly provided the webmaster with an image of Sep Collins with regalia around his neck provided by the 'then Association of Hairdressers'. The image at right? Not the entire image. And I added contrast for better presentation on this page. I could not spot the right image on the Society website, but it may very well be there. The left image was on their front page, in a size smaller than was on the BBC site.
When it is said that the chain ferry ceased to operate in 1915, that would not seem to have been the end of the Hylton ferry - which continued to operate until, I read, 1957.
Len Charlton (thanks!) has kindly advised that the chain ferry had a windlass to pull itself across the river. That windlass is visible, I think, in both of the images above.
It would appear that the first reference to the ferry was in 1322 'when Baron Hylton granted to his chaplain "the passage of Bovisferry" (an ox ferry where heavy cattle could pass)'. My source used to state 'The ferry was in use in the 17th century' which implies, maybe unintentionally, that the ferry was not in continuous service over the centuries. The ferry 'ceased to be the responsibility of the Hylton family in the mid-18th' century, 'passing to the occupant of Wood House Farm'. Does that mean that Sep Collins was later associated with Wood House Farm, I wonder.
Do visit that last link (englandspastforeveryone.org, now gone alas). A number of images are there available for viewing & download - see the right of the screen you come to. Those images include the following fine image of the ferry & the 'Golden Lion'. An image which I have sharpened for better presentation on this page. And have added contrast also for the same purpose. The image originates, I read, with the 'Waples' Collection.
The 'Golden Lion' looks like the sort of place in which it would have been a pleasure to have a few beers. As, I am sure, many did!
Another image of the ferry. An eBay postcard in Nov. 2008. Somewhat similar to the image in the pair at right above. Date of mailing not indicated.
And another interesting image of the ferry. Showing sheep being carried across the river. A long expired eBay item.
If I am not mistaken, an eBay item that was available for many months, years ago now, which shows the Hylton Ferry - looking I think eastward. The steps on the left are still there today. The item is a most modest image of a reproduction print of a 19th century painting by an unknown artist. So there! I guess that is a ferry boat in the river? It looks to me like a treed island!
Am I correct in thinking that this ferry was a chain driven ferry for vehicles, cattle, etc., AND ALSO, maybe when the need was for just one or 2 passengers, a row-boat crossing as well?
In most of the above images there are row-boats visible & they look to my eye to be ferry-related. I ask because 'Nemo' of Sunderland, provided an undated image of the ferryman at Hylton. And that interesting image follows. Now, thanks to Doug Scrafton, Secretary of the South Hylton Local History Society, I can advise you that the name of the ferryman depicted was 'Ferguson'. Well known locally, I gather. Steve Clarke tells me that his first name was George - so George Ferguson.
A fine image of the ferry was sold in Aug. 2009 via eBay, of content somewhat similar to the 4th image above. Believed to be c.1890. A magnified view of an image section, provided with the eBay listing showed the name of the tavern most clearly, i.e. 'Golden Lion Inn'.
And last, but not least, David Parkinson advises that his family tradition says that a gentleman named Bowen, part of his family which came from South Wales in the mid 1800s, was the ferryman at Hylton. He lived, it would seem at Waterside, near Cox Green.
This is as good a place as any to note that the late Thomas F. (Francis) Hunter, past President & Chairman of Sunderland Antiquarian Society, Chairman of South Hylton History Society and Fellow of the Royal Numismatic Society, was the author of 'A History of South Hylton (The Growth of an Industrial Village)'. Its entire text has been made available to all, to read or download, by Keith Hunter, his son. Chapter 1 is devoted to the history of the Hylton ferry.
I have not read when the rowing boat ferry at Coxgreen commenced service. But at a site now long gone, (washington.co.uk), I read that 'for many years' it was operated by the Frost family, carrying villagers across the river to their employment at the Washington Chemical Works & for shopping in Washington. I have also read, about 60% down another page that no longer exists that in the 1881 Census of Barmston, John Robertson was listed as being a ferryman. Related to this ferry in some way. Where is Barmston, I wonder? 'Barmston Forge' showed on the map that you used to come to. I now understand that it is in Pattinson, on the north bank of the river at Washington, overlooked by the Penshaw Monument, & that the Washington Wetland Centre, managed by the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust, now sits on the site of 'Barmston Estate', once owned by the Hylton family.
A short trip! Across the narrow river to Washington Staithes on the north bank. It ceased to operate in Feb. 1956. Pedestrian traffic was soon served by a fine pedestrian bridge built in 1958 and still there today in 2013.
There are at least two postcard images of the ferry at Coxgreen dating from the very early 1900s. Both most similar, as you can see below. One of them, published by Ruddock Ltd., was in Jun. 2007 sold on eBay - postally dated 1904. Card entitled 'The Ferry, Coxgreen'. It is at right below. The other card? It is a part only, (the significant part however), of a much larger image which used to be available at a Durham Council site - but is no longer, it would appear. Should copyright concerns exist re the use here of a portion of that postcard over a century old, or its use on this page cause any concerns at all, I will gladly remove it from these pages. Hopefully, however, to replace it in the future with other imagery when it becomes available.
A fine 2007 image of the pedestrian bridge can be viewed here. And another here. It is possible that a May 1959 image of the pedestrian bridge appeared in the Sunderland Echo 2008 calendar.
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W. F. VINT
The W. F. Vint was a ferry boat, a modest little ferry boat indeed, built in 1926 at a cost of £4,385, that was used at Sunderland for the short, just 4 minute journey across the Wear until Jul. 1957. When it made its last such return 'voyage' starting from Bodlewell Lane. On Jul. 27, 1957. And with that final trip, ferry service on the Wear at Sunderland came to an end. After a history of many hundreds of years.
The occasion was witnessed by a thousand people of both banks of the river. While on board was Mayor Joseph Hoy & his wife & also Fred Willey, then the Sunderland Member of Parliament. The skipper that day was Jack Doyle & aboard also was ex-skipper Alfred Irwing, who had, as did Jack, over 20 years of ferry service to their credit.
For a number of years, I have been unable to tell you where W. F. Vint was built - but can now advise, thanks to Colin Campbell, that she was built at the Garvel Shipyard of George Brown & Co., at Greenock, River Clyde. A ferry, yard No. 150, twin screws. 51.9 x 15.6 x 4.11 feet. As per this page. And, while I cannot tell you where it happened, it would seem that W. F. Vint sank, just a short time after that final crossing. On Aug. 12, 1957, while being towed by the tug George V. It sank due to 'water leakage' it would seem. Maybe it was on its way to the ship-breakers? Even though maybe it did not have a lot of hours on the engines! With time accumulating at just 8 minutes a round trip!
Colin Campbell is seeking information about what finally happened to W. F. Vint. Was she in fact broken up? If so where? If you know anything, drop me a line. Chris Gilson-Taylor advises below that the vessel sank while under tow to the scrap yard & today lies on the bed of the North Sea.
It would be good to feature here, an image or images of W. F. Vint, perhaps on that final day. We do however, higher on this page, have an image of a watercolour of W. F. Vint by Tom Dack, which work was apparently featured on placemats. Possibly you might have images of or related to W. F. Vint, or indeed of any other Sunderland ferry boat, & would be prepared to provide them for use on this page?
We do have available an image (shown full size below as was posted by Sunderland Tugs etc on Facebook) of ferry boat W. F. Vint provided to 'Sunderland Tugs and Shipbuilding in pictures' by Linda Roy - both of whom we thank.
And the name itself, i.e. W. (William) F. (Frederick) Vint?
William F. Vint was the Mayor of Sunderland from 1917 to 1919 (but see inset text below). I know that thanks to 'khonalan'. A WW1 peace medal, made of aluminium alloy, was issued in 1919 & bore his name, in what to me is a quite unusual wording. It reads 'IN COMMEMORATION OF PEACE 1919 COUNTY BOROUGH OF SUNDERLAND' & 'ALD: W. F. VINT J.P. MAYOR'. As you can see next. I would have expected the title of Alderman to be vacated when he became the Mayor, but that seems not to have happened, indeed never does it happen in the Sunderland political scene. William F. Vint was earlier a Councillor, I understand. I have inserted what I believe to me an image of him. He died, I read, on Dec. 28, 1927.
Steven Vint has kindly been in touch. William F. Vint, the mayor, was his great grandfather. Steven's grandfather Edward Foster Vint worked at the ship yards, trained as an electrician & became a manager at Austin and Pickersgills. Steven's father Robert Foster Vint trained as an electrician at Westoe coal mine in Shields, later worked at Sunderland University but passed away 4 years ago in 2010. Steven lectures today (engineering) at Sunderland University.
In Nov. 2016, Chris Gilson-Taylor has been in touch to advises that William Frederick Vint was his great grandfather also. And provides the following detail about him. We thank you Chris!
William F. Vint was born on Dec. 6, 1856 & baptized on Apl. 17, 1857. On Apl. 17, 1882 he married Sophia Elizabeth Whitlock. They had only two daughters, Dorothea (my paternal grandmother) & Margarita (known as Rita). He was mayor of Sunderland 4 times, from 1914 to 1922. He wrote an interesting & amusing book 'A Mayors Notebook' about his time in office through the war. Copies can be found on the web. He died in 1927 & is buried at Grangetown Cemetery. His wife I remember as a child as she lived with her daughter Dorrie for a while, before going into an home where she died in 1954. My genealogy of the Vints is on WikiTree, with photos. The family lived at Cedars End, which I believe to-day is an old peoples home.
With regard to the ferry W. F. Vint, I did a little research as I wanted to build a model. She was built on Clydeside but no plans exist to-day either in the followers of the builders, Liverpool City or University Archives. She did sink under tow to the scrap yard & now lies at the bottom of the North Sea. There is a map of the site on the net under wrecks.