The Shields Ferry operates across the River Tyne, England, between North Shields and South Shields. The service is operated by Nexus (The Tyne and Wear Passenger Transport Executive) and is part of the Tyne and Wear Metro System. It was known as The Market Place Ferry until takeover by the PTE in 1972.
There have been ferries across the Tyne since the 14th century, and this is the only service that remains.
The ferry service makes just under 25,000 journeys a year, and carries nearly 400,000 passengers a year. There are two vessels that operate the service, currently; The Pride of the Tyne (1993) and The Spirit of the Tyne (2007). Usually only one ferry is in operation at a time, although both will be used during peak periods to operate a shuttle service. Also, if The Pride of the Tyne is in use of Private Hire/Rivertrip etc. the Spirit of the Tyne will operate the standard ferry service. Each trip, the Shields Ferry travels approx. 0.48miles (0.77 km) across the river.
Passengers on the north bank can transfer to the 333 bus service at North Shields ferry landing to be taken direct to the town centre and metro station. The alternative to this is a short 5-10 minute walk via the steep hill of Borough Road.
In 2008 the PTE appointed Carol Timlin as the service's first female general manager.
The Freda Cunningham was the first ferry to be commissioned and was in use when the ferry service was called the "Market Place Ferry". This vessel had a reputation for unreliability and was frequently out of service. The ferry's name came from the wife of North East Labour Party leader Andy Cunningham, whose son was the politician and cabinet minister, Jack Cunningham. She was commissioned in 1972 and sold in 1993 when the Pride of The Tyne came into service.
The Shieldsman was built by Hancock Shipbuilders of Pembroke Dock and entered service in 1976. The ferry is double ended, and can operate either way, however they typically work one way, and turn around as part of the crossing over the Tyne. It can carry 350 passengers in public service, or a reduced capacity of 250 on private hire. The Shieldsman was retired early in 2007, at the age of 30, to be replaced by the new The Spirit of the Tyne. Nexus sold the Shieldsman in 2008 to a private buyer from the Portsmouth area, who chose to remain anonymous. In March 2010, the Shieldsman was moored on the River Adur in Shoreham-by-Sea.
The Shieldsman was powered by twin 8lxb Gardner engines and the electricity was powered by Lister generators
The Pride of the Tyne
The Pride of the Tyne was built by Swan Hunters in nearby Wallsend and entered service in 1993. It was a modified version of the Shieldsman and cost £1.5 million. The vessel also has a bar, The Admirals Locker, that is available on private hire. The vessel was also the first river ferry to incorporate all of the new safety features introduced after the Marchioness disaster in 1989.
The Pride of the Tyne is powered by twin Gardner 6lxdt with twin Perkin generators.
The Spirit of the Tyne
A new ferry, The Spirit of the Tyne, entered service in 2007, replacing the Shieldsman, which was retired after 30 years. The new ferry is an 'off the shelf' product and differs greatly from the Shieldsman and The Pride of the Tyne.
South Shields Ferry Landing
The services uses two landing stages, South Shields Ferry Landing (Coordinates: ) was opened in July 1999 to replace a century old landing. The landing provides three berths as well as an indoor waiting room and offices.
North Shields Ferry Landing
North Shields Ferry Landing ( ) was opened in July 2004 providing better accessibility and passenger waiting facilities than its predecessor which was built in a similar style to Tyne and Wear Metro Stations.
Currently, there are plans for a landing stage to be added at Royal Quays International Ferry Terminal but these plans have been on the table for years.
The service is used by many commuters mainly from North Tyneside and South Tyneside. The service provides a viable alternative to travelling via Newcastle city centre on the Tyne and Wear Metro or the Tyne Tunnel. The Shields Ferry can be used by cyclists and is part of the National Cycle Network. All of the vessels in service with Nexus can carry wheelchairs.
Because Shields Ferry is operated by Nexus which also operate the Tyne and Wear Metro, ticketing is integrated with the Metro ticketing system. Metro passes and tickets are valid on the Ferry as well as Tyne and Wear Network Tickets and Day Rovers. New style Transfare tickets can be purchased allowing one-way travel on Shields Ferry and either a bus or Metro. Tickets are purchased when boarding the ferry.
- "Ferry gets first woman boss in 700 years". South Shields Gazette. 2008-08-12. Retrieved 2008-08-16. "There has been a ferry service between North Shields and South Shields since 1377, but never has a woman been at the helm. Mrs Timlin, from Gosforth, Newcastle, said: "It's nice to think that I'm the first ever woman to manage the Shields Ferry. It's an historic moment for a service that dates back hundreds of years."
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