London’s oldest ferry

Lately, on CabbieBlog, we’ve had London’s oldest flyover and the oldest bridge still in use.

For many years the medieval London Bridge was the only means to cross the River without using a boat. The footprint of these past ferries remains, Horseferry Road, Westminster, numerous Ferry Lanes, Tottenham, Dagenham, Haringey and East and West Ferry Roads on the Isle of Dogs.

So where are London’s oldest working ferries? Well, there are only two contenders, the free ferry service at Woolwich and Hampton’s ferry.

Since at least the 14th century there has been a ferry service on the Thames running between Woolwich North to the south bank at Woolwich. In 1810 the army established its own ferry that ran from Woolwich Arsenal to Duvals Wharf. In 1811 an Act of Parliament was passed to establish a ferry across the Thames from Woolwich. In 1889 a free passenger and vehicle ferry service started operation. By the early 1960s, increasing demand saw the paddle steamers retire and the ferry service upgraded to a roll-on/roll-off model. It is currently run by Transport for London.

Another still operational ferry service is the Hampton Ferry, which can only transport pedestrians, operating on the Thames about a mile west of Hampton Court Bridge between Hampton on the north bank and Hurst Park, Molesey, on the south bank.

Dating from 1514 it provided a service for agricultural workers and fishermen. It was incorporated by statute, making it one of the oldest British companies. The ferry, which costs £2 for a single crossing, operates from April to October.

Featured image: The Hampton Ferry by DiamondGeezer (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

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