Next Saturday marks (possibly) the very last time that the current Woolwich Ferry will pass through Tower Bridge.

Although they are normally shuttling motor vehicles and a handful of passengers across the Thames at Woolwich, occasionally one will venture further inland to pay a visit to Tower Bridge.

These are community events, where the ferry service offers special trips for local people, and the ferry service holds an annual charity day in July for several hundred disabled children.

On Saturday 7th July, the James Newman will pass though Tower Bridge at 2:30pm, and head back to out again at 3pm.


The reason it’s probably the last time the boats will be able to make the trip is that they are about to be scrapped and replaced with brand new boats. The brand new boats will still make occasional visits to Tower Bridge, but if you want to give the old girls a decent send off, then next Saturday is your chance.

While the new boats will be lovely, there’s still something a bit nostalgic about the older ferries, which were built at a time when the docks were busier and they have loads of passenger space below deck that is now eerily empty.

You have a few months left to take a trip in the old ferry before they stop serving the local community, probably this October.

The Woolwich Ferry service itself will be closed from October to December for upgrade works to the piers ahead of the arrival of the new boats.

The two new boats are being named Dame Vera Lynn, and Ben Woollacot, a deckhand who died in 2011 after falling from the ferry.



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  1. Paul Jefferies says:

    I remember seeing one of the ferries moored opposite the Tower of London one night five or six years back, while they were making some sort of Bollywood movie, the car deck was full of colourful lighting and lots of people doing synchronised dancing

  2. I recall going on the ferries as a young child with my brothers and mum and Dad. I remember thinking this is brilliant. I’ve since done the same with my child when she was a toddler who’s now 13. I wanted her to experience what I felt at that young age. Nearly every weekend as a 13 year old my friends and I would ride the ferry all day there was just something about those ferries that felt magical,and gave us a sense of freedom.

  3. Joannd Roberts says:

    When I was a young little girl my grandad would take me on the ferry and sit me on the corner where there passengers get on and off
    And gave me a tour round the down stairs area where passengers sit I loved it every time


    In 1962 my late Father joined Metcalf Motor Coasters becoming the 2nd Engineer on MV ‘ MELISSA M ‘Over Christmas & The New year 1962-63 my Mother and I joined him on the ship for the Commissioning of the new Metcalf vessel ‘ ANN M ‘ which was built for shipping Blast Furnace Clinker from Teeside to Shoreham in Sussex (Where I now live).
    We were in the Docks in North Woolwich (Which was prior to 1889 actually part of Woolwich and in Kent! ).
    Over the holiday Dad took me on all four of the Paddlers! I was only 5 but I still recall the wonderful steam engines and the thrashing paddles!
    For Christmas we were joined by my Paternal Grandfather who whilst talking to the Chief Engineer of the ‘GORDON'(II) That he remembered the original vessels of 1888-1893. The R.H.Green Sister ships
    ‘Gordon ‘ & ‘DUNCAN’ of 1888 and the ‘HUTTON’ built by William Simons in 1893.
    He also remembered seeing the 2nd ‘GORDON’ when she was brand new in 1922.
    Going on to tell me that the 1888 vessels were withdrawn once the 2nd ‘GORDON ‘ and her sister ship ‘SQUIRES’ entered service early in 1923.They were built by J. Samuel White Cowes, Isle of Wight.
    (PS ‘HUTTON’ was withdrawn by the end of the year in 1923).
    It was soon realised that further vessels were required and in 1930 the second pair of ships also built by J.Samuel White were delivered.
    They were as follows.
    It was wonderful to be taken to see such ships.
    All four of them were replaced by the present ships.
    I was only 5 when I first saw them new from The Caledon Shipbuilding & Engineering Co of Dundee.
    On Monday the 24th I had my 60th Birthday and yesterday I made my way to North Woolwich to see MV ‘JOHN BURNS’for the last time .
    I was allowed to stay on her until the end of service.
    I have to be in London on both the 3rd & 5th of October. By which time JB will have gone .
    I suspect that Thursday 5th October 2018 will be a very memorable day.
    As I write this I feel very emotional as JB,EB & JN have served East London for 55 years.
    The 1888 vessels served from 1889 until 1923 34 years.
    The 1893 vessel was the shortest lived as ‘HUTTON’ Only managed 30 Years. The 1922 vessels served from 1923 to 1963 40 years and the 1930 vessels served 33 years .
    So the 1963 vessels have done very well indeed.
    One wonders how long ‘BEN WOLLACOT’ & ‘DAME VERA LYNN’ will last for!

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