Sunday 9 October 2011

Somebody's Pinched the Ferry [3]

Today is the Great Yorkshire Run in Sheffield.
There are numerous bus route diversions.
Some of those listed on TSY posters are:-
services 40, 41, 46A, 150 and 284
which don't exist
services 215 and 218 
with wrong destinations
 services 36 and 120 
are missing completely.
Memo to Travel South Yorkshire:-
Get some up-to-date leaflets! 
You will find them at your own enquiry offices.
Back to today's blog:-

Motorbus to Murex
A murex is a sea snail; and it is not at all clear why a company concentrating on making specialist metals for the welding industry should be so named. But Murex Ltd moved to Rainham in 1909 and began developing the site at Rainham Ferry immediately after the First World War.

By the early 1920s two bus companies were providing local bus services in the town, from the Station along the Upminster Road. Mr Stephens was the larger of the two, Mr Edwards being the lesser partner in a loose joint operation. Services ran spasmodically and occasionally unpredictably connecting with trains from London.
This splendid vehicle was obtained second hand in 1931 and is posed outside the depot, called, optimistically "South Essex Coach Station". Information is gleaned from "Londons Buses Volume Two" by Blacker, Lunn and Westgate (sounds like a firm of Solicitors!) and published in 1983. Both operators ran occasional journey down to the riverside premises of Murex.
By 1934, the London "Monopoly" was in place and a similar service 393 was being run by London's country area. Oddly, additional 393A journeys from Rainham to "Murex" are shown as running to "Rainham Ferry" whilst through journeys from King Edwards Avenue (Upminster Road) terminate at "Three Crowns", actually the same place!

By 1937, the service was numbered 375 but the pattern of  operation remained similar, albeit extended to a very "rural" terminus at White Post Corner, further along the Upminster Road and very much in the middle of nowhere.

By 1950 it was Red buses on service 87 (seen here at White Post Corner) ...
... that plied the Upminster Road, but the green 375 continued to provide a very frequent shuttle between Rainham Station and Murex with occasional trips along the 87 route.
This splendid vehicle was photographed by "Lens if Sutton" providing such a shuttle trip.
During the intervening years Murex had been buying up other "smelly" companies operating along Ferry Road and it became a major employer in the area. In 1951 the "Three Crowns" was absorbed to become a small block of works offices.
In 1959 the 375 shuttle came to an end and was replaced with a "works contract" service. In 1971 this was operated by City Coach Lines as service 12 and once again became available to the fare-paying public. It is hard to imagine who would want to use it and by 1977 it was back to being a contract service run by L and A Coaches. Thus fbb is unable to discover when buses of any kind ceased running down Ferry Road.

Incidentally, in April 1979 bus route 87 became the last service to be operated by the ubiquitous London RT bus.
In the 1990s, Murex was taken over and working was rationalised on a second site at Walthamstow, but still called "Ferry Lane Works". The Rainham Ferry works were then doomed, demolished ...
... and re-developed as the rather bland warehouse industrial estate that occupies the site today.
So a whole raft of history has now disappeared without trace (except for that plaque on the south bank of the Thames). 
A once-popular pub  is no more ...
... and even the name, Rainham Ferry, has disappeared from our maps, never to rise again.

So, who pinched the ferry? Well, after the mid 19th century there never WAS a ferry, just a name and a memory; now even that is consigned to the waste bin of history. 

fbb is deeply indebted to chum and colleague Barry (not Doe) who has contributed much of the research for this blog. 

Next blog : due Monday October 10th


  1. Although in a similar part of the world the last RTs were on the 62 not the 87.

  2. 62 was that the penile route that ran from Little Heath via Barking to Chadwell Heath?

    87 was near me. It was very long IIRC and hardly any one would have ridden its length and zigzag nature. If memory serves hardly any buses did either, most doing overlapping sections. far quicker from Romford to Rainham was 165.

    The need for both 62 and 87 always puzzled me when I grew up/

  3. Awesome memories, I worked at Murex from 1969 to 1972, I remember the bus down ferry lane and rode it many times, I never did get to see the Pub as it was gone when I was old enough to drink. The area is all but unrecognizable now but happy days at Murex. I remember the Clock tower bus terminal, 103, 165 & 87, and the green liners round by the Manor House. Thanks for the blog lads, from an old rainham boy.